This summer was hot, really hot. It was actually the hottest summer in Dallas EVER! That didn’t stop a collection of People from putting together one of the biggest barbecues ever for the DAL Maintenance & Engineering Department.
In August, ten four-person Teams got together to see who would be the grill master. This was the first of what we hope will be an annual DAL M&E BBQ Throwdown. There was an official set of rules and guidelines that all entrants had to adhere to. Nearly 900 pounds of meat was grilled to feed more than 1,200 People in the M&E Department. Employee Teams competed in several categories: best ribs, best sausage, tastiest chicken, and most flavorful sauce. “Trash talking” started weeks before the event was set to occur. At the last meeting with all the Team Leaders, one gentleman stood up, took off his work gloves, threw them on the ground, and stomped on them like he was putting out a cigarette—all this was to show how badly he was going to devastate the other Teams. Well not really, but that’s what it felt like because the duel was on; a ten-way multifaceted duel, that is.
The day before the competition, meat was distributed to all the Teams so that everyone could marinate and season if they felt so inclined. Also that day, Teams set up their own smokers, elaborate (or not so elaborate) grills, and all the comforts of an outdoor kitchen so that they could focus on the main event—cooking—the next morning. Although the stage was set the day before, the competition started earlier; for some, a lot earlier.
The first Team arrived at midnight. Food was not required to be in for judging until 10:30 a.m. For those that can’t do that quick math, it is ten and a half hours of potential cook time. Right away, it was clear that these People were serious. Most of the rest of the Teams came in at varying times between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m., a time when I’m sure everyone else is still deep asleep. By the time most People got to work, the smell was intoxicating. It has never occurred to me to eat a slab of ribs for breakfast, but that morning, those ribs were calling my name. As the sun rose, most were well past the halfway point in the cooking process.
As 10:30 a.m. came around, the food was ready for the judges. The judges were Herb, Ginger Hardage (SVP Culture & Communication), Ron Ricks (EVP and Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer), Mike Van de Ven (EVP & Chief Operating Officer), and Daryl Krause (SVP Procurement). It was an all-star group to say the least.
Brian Hirshman (SVP Technical Operations) was the emcee of the event. I have to say he did a fantastic job. He was especially adept at keeping the unruly judges in line and on task. The judges sampled the ten plates of ribs, chicken, sausage, and sauce. Needless to say, some of them were slowing down after five or six plates of the best BBQ ever!
The votes were cast and tallied up. We had our winners! The Best Ribs were cooked by the “Hey Grillfriends” Team, comprised of Yorda Aguilar, Janice Staples, Nelda Sharp, and Shirley Riser. Awards for both the Best Chicken and Most Flavorful Sauce went to the “DMX Midnight Vaqueros” Team: Rick Brewer, Andy Rubeman, Sam Hill, and Frank Martinez. The Best Sausage was submitted by the “Whiskey Smokers,” a Team made up of Floyd Stonum, Greg Pogue, Jonathon Guevara, and Lee Chappa. Our overall champion, the “masters of the flames,” was the team named “Coy’s Q,” comprised of members Coy Smith and Terence Jackson. Two members of Coy’s Q had to drop out at the last minute, but that clearly didn’t stop the two of them from taking the cake, or the crown, as it were.
This was a wonderful event, and I believe everyone involved from the cooks to the crowd had a great time. So here’s to the first M&E Throwdown, and hopefully the beginning of a tradition that will last for a long time.