As I was covering last year’s Swine ‘N’ Dine BBQ Cookoff in Paxton, I couldn’t help but be jealous of all the grilling action in front of me.
You see, I love food, but I love grilled food even more. So as I took photos and interviewed the contestants on Market Street that late September day, my attention kept turning from the contestants to their barbecued pork ribs.
I kept thinking, "I need to be in this!"
Well, last week I put my money where my mouth is. Dave King, my old buddy from Urbana High School — and, yes, he’s getting kind of old — just moved to Paxton. And, luckily, he likes barbecue, too. So the two of us decided to register last week for the Sept. 20 Swine ‘N’ Dine, under the appropriately named team "King Brumblecue."
We started testing our recipes over a week ago. We already have a winner ... we think.
Dave was named the head chef of our team because he’s got more experience grilling ribs than I do. I usually just do hamburgers or brats. OK, I’ll admit it, he’s just better at grilling than I am, too.
We are both amateurs — although we like to think otherwise — and our equipment isn’t all that special, either. We use a cheap grill I bought four years ago at Wal-Mart.
But we have hope we can win this contest, and for good reason. The last two winners of the cookoff are both amateurs. And last year’s winner, "Bobby Q" Davenport of Champaign, won on the first time he ever competed in a cookoff.
The words of the contest’s organizer, Ben Grice of Paxton, also are encouraging for the King Brumblecue team.
"For those of you on the fence that might not think you’re ready for such a competition or that your grill isn’t professional enough, don’t worry about any of that. Try it anyway; you’ll love it," Grice says. "It’s a pretty down-to-earth event. There were guys up there last year with grills that cost $30; there were guys with grills that cost a few thousand."
Count us in.