Imagine this: Saturday night, while you and your fuzzy-ass slippers shiffled to the thermostat to crank your heater to 11, four teams of fancy chefs were huddled around smokers in a muddy West Dallas parking lot, drinking beer and cooking meat overnight in freezing temperatures, all in the name of charity. All in the name of Meat Fight.
This was the fifth year of the Fight, a charity barbecue competition founded by our longtime and award-hoarding Cheap Bastard columnist, Alice Laussade, and her husband, Mike. (The Observer is a sponsor.) It was the largest yet, held in a drafty warehouse across the street from Trinity Groves.
It was cold, but the bodies and the beef and the beer -- and the whiskey and the donuts and the pork and the pork-donuts and the midway games, including the Meat Toss, which I dominated, naturally -- kept things warm enough. It was nice, actually, to be bundled up for an event in Dallas.
The competition at this thing -- non-barbecue chefs cooking Texas-style barbecue to be judged by some of the state's barbecue luminaries -- is always pretty fierce, and the trophies coveted. Still, it's for charity, with ticket sales and auction revenue benefitting the National MS Society. And look at the fundraising by year, which Alice just sent over:
2010: $0 / 40 people in my backyard
2011: $2,000 / 75 people in my backyard
2012: $20,000 / 250 people at Sons of Hermann Hall
2013: $50,000 / 500 people at Four Corners Brewery
2014: $100,000 / 750 people at The Green Warehouse in Trinity Groves
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It's incredible, as is the feat of spending all night in the bone-rattling cold cooking 'cue for 750 people, one of whom is Aaron Franklin. But there can only be a handful of winners, and here they are:
Brisket: Graham Dodds (Meat the Cleavers) Pulled Pork: Cody Sharp (Notorious PIG) Sausage: Oliver Sitrin (Fearsome Forcemeat) Shoulder Clod: Jeff Bekavac (Fearsome Forcemeat) Team Trophy: Fearsome Forcemeat (Bekavac, McPherson, Sitrin, Dilda) People's Choice: Fearsome Forcemeat (Bekavac, McPherson, Sitrin, Dilda)
I can attest that team Forcemeat served up a strong platter of meat. It was also the largest platter I've seen in three years of going to the event, and they served it alongside a Carolina-barbecue-sauce-style bourbon shot. To be clear: This was not a sauce made with bourbon. This was a bourbon shot made with vinegar. It was awesome, as was a lot of what I ate yesterday.
"Our fighters give everything," Alice said in statement she sent this morning wrapping things up until next year, when the event will no doubt grow a little more. "I mean, seriously this year. Did you see the weather we had? It freezing-sleet-anger-rained on these Dallas chefs all night Saturday night as they lit their smokers and stayed all night to baby their BBQ in a warehouse with no heat. I have photos of them so bundled up you can't even name the chef. And on top of that, they donate incredible auction items to help us raise even more money. These Dallas chefs are so ridiculously giving and talented. Please go to their restaurants every chance you get."