This year, during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, I decided to attend the world famous BBQ Cook Off contest. In the past, I’ve had connections with a booth and that was great. I shot several photos of their booth and guests. They loved the pics I took and I enjoyed drinking and eating at their booth while I was out there.
This year, I didn’t have an invitation to any booths. When I entered the cook off area, I took a left and came across the Lonestar Cowboy Cookers tent.
My goal was to cover the activities of a reputable tent. The Lonestar Cowboy Cookers fit that description, and then some. What follows is a little look at my day with the team as a guest in their tent.
It’s hard to miss the Lonestar Cowboy Cookers’ tent. They have a very large set-up. Their capacity is 1,850 people. I’m sure that their guests are pleased with how great the facade is.
These next 3 gentlemen play key roles with the team. From left to right, Richard, Bobby and Sawyer.
Richard and Sawyer are in charge of the food and Bobby is the one who approved my admittance into the tent and back areas.
Here’s Sawyer and Richard in front of the ribs. The smell was incredible.
More about these ribs in a bit.
I was able to meet and photograph several members of the cooking team. All were very nice people.
At one point, the team all got together and started passing out tequila shots. One guy looked over at me as I was taking pics and said, “You want one?” I said, “Sure.”
A tequila shot with no chaser helps in bad weather.
I wasn’t at the tent during the time the team was preparing their chicken for the contest. I did however cover the ribs and brisket.
I won’t say all that goes into preparing meat for a contest, but I will say that I learned a lot about competition BBQ.
Carefully cutting the ribs for the contest.
Part of what I learned is that each team provides their own meat. A judge’s committee representative will come by and tag the meat with a piece of metal that has a number on it.
When the representative comes to the tents, they verify that meat tag number with what they have on a form.
Presentation is also very important. Having a clean look to an entry is all part of a winning combination.
A culinary work of art. This is the team’s ribs entry.
Once the ribs were prepared, the representative will put tape around the container so it can’t be opened, except by the Judge’s Committee.
I know this representative for the Judges. Misty and I were lifeguards together many years ago. It looks like she is telling him that he is 10 minutes late. Not the case, but a funny pic.
The Lonestar Cowboy Cookers’ tent is really big. I like the flag.
Back to those ribs that Sawyer and Richard were standing next to. These ribs were for the guests in the tent.
There were so many racks of ribs, it was hard to count.
Some guys were cutting and some guys were stacking in these trays.
This is the pic when they finally emptied the cooker. They had been cutting for a while so the total was probably close to twice this pile.
A meat lover’s dream.
The staff at the entrance of the tent were all so nice. Tara was the first person I met and she was great.
I was impressed with the banner of donors.
The final entry into the contest was the brisket. Richard is cleaning off the metal tag so the judge’s rep can see it. Richard then had to sign off on the paper.
Letting the meat sit for a bit before it’s cut.
You can see the metal tag clearly in this photo.
An expert at work.
Being this close, I could also enjoy the aroma.
I’ve always known that there is a lot involved with cooking good BBQ, but after watching the Lonestar Cowboy Cookers, it looks more like an art form.
In this next pic, you’ll see again how important ‘plating’ is to have your entry look the best.
Cleaning the container before sealing it.
Their brisket entry. Beautiful.
The Judge’s Rep, Misty, sealing up the brisket entry.
In this next pic, Steven is loading Jalapeno Poppers.
You don’t see sights like this at the smaller tents.
It takes a lot of time to prepare food all day.
When it was close to time for serving food, the workers started setting up tables with covers.
The tables and chairs were set up in a short amount of time.
I’m not sure if the bad weather caused any to miss the day, but the people that did show were having a great time.
The bartenders were friendly and happy to be there. I never had anything to drink throughout my day in the tent, but the bartenders were quick to offer me something when I approached to get their photo. Great staff.
Everyone that I approached for a photo agreed to pose for me. I’m glad they did because the pics capture them having a fun time on a great day.
Bucky checking the meatballs.
The Jalapeno Poppers were ready. I never tried one even though Bucky offered me one. They looked great. I should have tried one.
Another fun group.
Before the food was served, a few words were spoken to acknowledge certain people for their contributions. Also, everyone removed their hats when the prayer was said.
That flag looks great. As does the team logo.
When it was time to serve the food to the guests, the staff would fix each plate with some brisket, ribs and sides.
The sides were great.
The team worked for a long time to prepare this meal.
I’d love to have their recipes.
The staff fixing the plates enjoyed their work. Smiling, happy faces.
The guests would line up and come by one of the windows and take a plate.
The line moved quickly and everyone was pleased with the service.
Just a great pic showing the First Class hospitality of the Lonestar Cowboy Cookers.
Here is my plate. It also came with a container of sauce. There was another table with utensils, napkins, pickles, onions and bread. The food tasted how it looked… fantastic!
Here is the bread, onions and pickles table.
The day was a great success.
Richard and a friend getting a shine after a lot of work.
Next year, I intend to stay a little longer and cover the band. Many thanks to Bobby, Richard, Sawyer, Tara, Steven and Bucky. Their hospitality was great.
To see all of the photos from the day and 35,000 others, go to the link below and click on Photos.