The 4th Annual Queen Mary West Coast BBQ Classic took place Saturday, May 9 in Long Beach. When the sauce settled, Sterling Ball’s Big Poppa Smokers was awarded the Grand Champion Trophy. “The City of Long Beach, with the Queen Mary as the setting and Arlie (Bragg) as the promoter, this is one you really, really want to win and I’ve got to tell you, it feels great!”, Sterling said. “It’s nearly a major—-we won the American Royal in 2012 and this one feels awesome”, he continued. “We were very happy to have a perfect score in chicken. Getting the GC in this contest is just a perfect gift!”.
My Smokin’ Grillfriend took the Reserve Champion award to a cheering crowd. In the main categories, pork ribs were won by Simply Marvelous BBQ with the reserve going to DG Firehouse BBQ and chicken was won by Big Poppa Smokers with My Smokin’ Grillfriend getting the reserve award. The winner in pork was Funtime BBQ with When Pigs Fly BBQ getting the reserve. The brisket category was won by Knock Ur Sox Off BBQ while Lady of Q took reserve. The Kansas City Barbecue Society and California BBQ Association sanctioned the event and took charge of the judging.
photo essay after the jump
The other coveted trophy category, the People’s Choice Award, was won by the Outta Gas BBQ Team. Chris Ades, Grillmaster for Outta Gas, said “We’ve got a great team and they really get the people engaged and having fun out here. Obviously we’ve got a fun shack here—the booth is eye-pleasing for the people to see and it really gets people in the mood, like they’re really going to a barbeque joint or something like that. That helps as well and we’re putting out something that people enjoy. They like to eat it, We’re blessed to have people enjoy our food”. Indeed a long line was to be continuously found in front of the Outta Gas “shack”, with many guests coming back for two and three of Outta Gas’ superb short rib tacos.
The recipient of two awards in the contest, Harry Soo of Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ from Diamond Bar, CA, is considered one of the top BBQ competitors in the nation. “We’re always happy to be here because this is one of those rare barbeque events where you get an ocean-front view and you’re on grass, so we always love coming out here. The teams really like to come out and cook at this contest”, Harry said. “I’ve had the opportunity to cook around the world, I’ve won the award in Canada, I won the Hawaiian Championship, I won the London Championship. I’ve had a chance to travel around the world, all because of a love of barbeque”.
Harry, who is also one of the most popular teachers of BBQ, with his classes being one of the best ways for a competitor to get an edge in the contests, said “I have had many alumni here cooking against me and what is wonderful is when you see the awards ceremony, half the people on stage are like little children of mine. I feel like a proud dad to all these children around the world. I’ve been blessed to compete in BBQ for eight years now and during that time I really have enjoyed sharing what I call ‘Barbeque Love’, it’s the technique and the tips on how to create wonderful using smokers and pits. That little bit of ‘Barbeque Love’ has spread around the world like a boomerang and that boomerang has come back and hit me on the side of the head many times bigger than I could have possibly imagined. It’s been a terrific journey”.
The theme of a love of barbeque and it’s cameraderie was repeated all around the Queen Mary Events Park. Robert, Nathan and Kareem of Wildebeest BBQ said, “We got sixth place in ribs last year, so we’re trying to repeat that. We want to get another medal—that’s our goal this year”. Nathan added, “We’re childhood friends. We’ve been together for thirty plus years. As a barbeque team, this is our fourth year. This is our third year at this one. It’s an awesome competition and a great venue, so we love coming here. Kareem and I went to Long Beach State, so we have ties in Long Beach”.
All day, the smoke from the ‘que wafted over the park. Meanwhile, hungry barbeque fans enjoyed their meats of choice, as well as hot cobbler, beverages from Jack Daniels and Heineken, soft ice cream and frozen lemonade. Grilled corn was a popular item as well as both chili and beans that were made with the barbequed meat. Many people could be seen gnawing on a nice pork rib, sharing a dish of BBQ Nachos or eating a sample of brisket or teriyaki chicken. Over in Kid’s Country, happy children played games with new friends. The consensus at the end was that this was the best Queen Mary BBQ Classic yet, with smiles on the faces of everyone.