Last time I wrote about the 2013 BBQ team, we had entered a partnership with last year’s next-door team. They would join forces with us, cooking both the championship meat and the day-to-day meals for the team, and we would supply the party. Since then there has been a change, but things are working out very, very well.
The next-door teamwill still be with us, but the man who was going to be our pitmaster will not be able to cook due to medical reasons. None of the other next-door members felt qualified to be a pitmaster, so we had to search for one. One day the team leaders were discussing the matter at our sponsor, the Blind Bear. Various names were tossed around. Then Jeannette said, “Hey, how about David Scott Walker?”
Jamie and Jeannette visited Chef David Scott Walker (I’ll abbreviate DSW from here on out) on a vacation to New York City a couple of years ago, where he was executive chef at a trendy restaurant. Jamie and DSW had known each other since college. Since that visit, DSW decided he wanted to move back to Memphis. He took a job as a chef at Rhodes College’s cafeteria, affectionately known as “The Rat” by students. That’s important, because he knows how to feed the masses, and he also knows how to do upscale catering for special functions. After a couple of interviews, we were convinced that he could do the job and was a good personality fit for the team. So DSW will be our pitmaster and head cook for the day-to-day team meals, and the remaining crew from next door will act as his sous chefs.
One thing DSW didn’t have was competition experience, but we had that covered. Robert aka “Bones” from the Squeal Street BBQ team, who has been to judging classes, offered to meet with DSW, cook a few shoulders, and show him the things the judges are looking for when they award top scores. “Paul, I tell you, DSW isn’t just here for the party. He’s in it to win it,” Jamie told me last night. Besides pork shoulder, the team is entered in three ancillary categories: beef, seafood, and poultry. Jamie told me DSW is serious about winning trophies in every category that we entered, and DSW confirmed that in a team leadership meeting I attended last night.
For the competition pork to be served to the judges, DSW located the best pork he could find in a 5-state radius. Since other teams read my blog, I won’t say where he found the shoulders, but they are a cut about what is typically served at BBQ Fest in terms of quality.
Then DSW told us about the menus he has planned. To discourage freeloaders (well, you know…) I won’t post exact dates and times, but menus include a fish fry with hushpuppies… a whole hog luau… a traditional BBQ meal with ribs, chicken, beans and slaw… “breakfast for lunch” with pulled pork benedict… a backyard picnic… and more. Of course, on Saturday there will be plenty of leftover competition shoulder after the judges leave, and there will be leftover beef, seafood, and poultry after the ancillary judging. Between meals there will be meat and cheese trays for snacking. Our team members are going to be well-fed throughout the festival this year.
Our booth location will be almost all the way to the south end of the park, on the bluff side, booth S-215. We decided to go 2-story again, and it’s a tall structure so team members will have access to river views. Brent from Holliday Flowers is helping again this year as time permits, but it’s a much simpler structure than last year. However, I’ve seen the artistic rendering, and this thing is still going to have a shot at Best Booth. It’s going to be huge and orange and you’ll feel like you’re in Stockholm when you see it.
For those of you who have a lot of friends on Squeal Street BBQ, their booth will be about a 1 minute walk from ours. The south side of the park is the place to be this year!
Our sponsor WordPress will be back, and much of what you’re reading about is possible thanks to their generous donations. Team members will get to meet WordPress guru Matt Mullenweg and his crew.
The Blind Bear will be running the bar. With pros stocking the liquor, we won’t have a situation like last year where someone thought “any clear liquor must be vodka” without reading the labels, and we ended up with 15 more handles of gin than we expected. Lots of vodka, rum, and bourbon. For those who prefer beer, there will be kegs available (I hear there will be some PBR) with tap handles that work.
We expect Thursday and Friday evenings to be big party nights. DJ Cody, who performs at the Silly Goose on the weekends, has stocked our iPod with playlists, so the music will be excellent. By the way, we party Saturday night too – we’re not one of those teams who starts breaking down right after the awards ceremonies. And with Chef DSW so serious about winning trophies, we may have a lot of reason to party on Saturday!
Team members: An official email just went out. Team member bags will be available for pick-up at our sponsor, the Blind Bear, starting Saturday. (The Bear opens at 3 Saturday and Sunday, 5 weekdays.) T-shirts are being printed by Sache and won’t be ready until Monday. If you pick up your bag Monday or later, your shirt will be in there; if not, you can get your shirt on Wednesday Friends & Family Night.
Help is needed for painting Sunday, May 12, 10 AM at the Holliday Flowers warehouse; with load-in from 10 to 5 at Tom Lee Park on Monday, May 13; and load-out on Sunday, May 19, all day. In past years we have learned that during load-in, it’s a best practice to leave one team member behind at the Flying Saucer to handle anything that comes up there. I have volunteered to cover that extremely important role on Monday.
If you’re a paid team member and did not get the team email, email me at email@example.com and I will forward. It includes things I didn’t post here, like the dates and times for each of the menus.
Last night someone was saying the park opens at noon some days. I don’t know where they got that info but it’s wrong. Park hours are 10 AM-midnight Thursday, 11 AM-midnight Friday, and 10 AM-10 PM Saturday. I believe the Friends & Family event Wednesday night is 5:30-10:30 PM.
Looking forward to partying with my teammates next week! See you at Tom Lee Park.