Today was a smoky day in Long Beach at the Queen Mary Events Park. When the smoke finally cleared, the 2nd Annual West Coast BBQ Classic was over. It came to a great end, as Matt Dalton and his team from Left Coast Q in Banning, California, took 3rd place in ribs, 6th place in chicken and then finished the day by winning the Grand Championship trophy, the top award of the day. As Mike, one of Matt’s crew said, “smoking’s just our passion”. They certainly proved that today, Saturday, May 11. Left Coast Q’s brisket was smoky and tender while their pulled pork had just a nice touch of smoke that went well with their sauce, just spicy enough to get your attention without overpowering the flavor of the meat.
There were other winners too. The Other Guys BBQ took the People’s Choice Award, chosen by the crowd as their favorite. Rancher’s Reserve Meats sponsored an award that was won by the team of Hog Wild BBQ from San Pedro, California. My Smokin’ Grillfriend, from Bakersfield, California, won 1st Place for Best Chicken. Who’s Smokin’ Now, from Benning, California won 1st Place for Ribs. Ead’s Down home BBQ, hailing from Eureka, California, took 1st Place honors in the Pork category. Finally, in the brisket category, which many of the teams feel is the most difficult meat of all to cook, 1st Place went to the Porketeers, from San Diego, California. The Porketeers had the honor of winning that category by being short one appearance point of a perfect score, truly a great accomplishment. Topping the day off for the Porketeers was the awarding of the Reserve Grand Championship trophy, the second highest honor at the BBQ Classic.
The crowd of over 4,600 hungry BBQ lovers had plenty of great barbecue to taste. As Dave Alspach, one of the Kansas City Barbecue Society judges said,”The barbecue today was fantastic. These are all pros”. Gary Penn, another of the judges, said “They have really outdone themselves on ribs. The chicken was excellent too. In fact, it was all good food”. You could tell that by some of the lines waiting for tastes and meals from the teams that were vending their barbecue. If there was a trophy for longest consistent line of the day, that would have gone to Neil Strawder and is Bigmista’s Barbecue team, who had a line of over 80 people from the time they started until the very end. Chris and Charlette Traeger, who had their ‘Smoke it….it’s legal’ team at the event, had smiling faces coming back to them constantly to tell them how much they had enjoyed their ribs, brisket and pork. Next to them, the team of Burnin’ and Lootin’ BBQ was keeping up with the demand for their barbecue. This team from Corona, run by Jerry and Lupe Aguilar, is in their second year of competition. They were the 2012 California BBQ Association’s Rookie of the Year. Today, they looked like seasoned pros, passing out tastes to hundreds of happy BBQ lovers. Jerry loved hearing that people liked his brisket.
Many people commented on the beautiful day at the Queen Mary Events Park. Jerry Aguilar of Burnin’ and Lootin’ said that many teams came because they like the views of Long Beach across the water. The crowd also enjoyed the music, with perfect weather for enjoying the groups such as the Shoemaker Brothers, who played an interesting combination of country and rock flavored original songs, with the skyline of Long Beach behind the stage. Just to the right of the event, the Queen Mary sat majestically on the water, certainly an imposing and beautiful sight.
Actor Mark Christopher Lawrence, known for his role of Big Mike on the NBC series Chuck, was judging the sirloin steak competition, an optional choice for the competitors. “The steak was very good”, he said. Smiling, he added, “of course, there was always one that was VERY good”. Judging by the smiling faces of the crowd, the barbecue today must have been all very good. You could tell also that the teams were pleased too. Matt Dalton, on his way with his Left Coast Q team to pick up his Grand Champion trophy, had a smile a mile wide as he led his team up to claim their victory.