New Year's BBQ Contests in Wildomar

BBQ ribs

The nation's last BBQ contest of 2010 and the first contest of 2011 is being held this weekend, less than an hour beyond the Orange Curtain in Wildomar.The public will be allowed to sample the competitor's food and vote for their favorite team. There is no fee to enter the venue, but sample tickets will cost $5 for one, $10 for three, or for $20 for ten. Proceeds benefit the Parks Department of Wildomar.

Who's going to be there? Fans of TLC's BBQ Pitmasters show will know The Godfather of BBQ, Johnny Trigg, who's making the trip from Alvarado, Texas. Harry Soo of Slap Yo Daddy BBQ, his protege Gary Notley of Notley Que, and Neil Strawder of BigMista's BBQ, all featured on the TLC series, will also compete. Over 50 teams from as far away as Illinois are coming to So Cal to compete for points and start 2011 as the #1 team in the country.

[Full disclosure – Strawder is my teammate, and I will cook with BigMistas BBQ for this contest.]

The public will sample contest-quality barbecue, which in my biased opinion, blows away most BBQ from a restaurant. Why? Because contest cooks are shooting to perfect a small quantity of food at a known turn-in time, and are more obsessive about perfection than most restaurants can afford to be.

BBQ contests are overnight marathons, and at this event, there are two of them. Judging for contest #1 will occur on Friday December 31, starting at noon. Contest #2 will happen on Saturday afternoon, again starting at noon. The People's Choice vote occurs between 12 –  5 p.m. on both days, but take my advice – show up early. The competitors only cook so much meat for each category of chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder and brisket, and teams tend to run out of meat fast. Damn the New Year's Eve hangover and get there before noon!

Albertson's Shopping Center 23873 Clinton Keith Rd., Wildomar CA

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