Yesterday the Moody Ques had our Meat & Greet on the rooftop of Jamie and Aaron’s condo at 648 Riverside. This was a chance for team members to get to know one another before BBQ Fest, and for members to get information on what’s going on with the team this year.
First of all, meet our pitmaster, Kris May, on the right in the photo above with the baseball cap and glasses. Kris has been part of a team called Memphis Squeal that has competed in regionals for years, winning many trophies and beating some of the biggest names in BBQ. Now we are partnering with them to compete in BBQ Fest under the Moody Ques name, combining their expertise in the kitchen with our knowledge of how to throw the best damn party in Tom Lee Park.
Kris cooked three butts for us to try. He gave a 5-minute presentation on preparation of the meat and demonstrated how the bone came apart cleanly and without a struggle. I recorded Kris’ presentation on my iPhone. It does contain some secrets that we don’t want to share with other teams, so I am going to get the video to vice-president Jamie for editing. Eventually I hope to post a condensed version on the team website, with the full video being made available to team sponsors.
Oh… speaking of sponsors, we announced two new ones yesterday!
DSV is a leader in the industry of global transport and logistics. Whether you need to transport cargo by air, land, or road, they can do it, and they cover customs brokerage as well. We are pleased to announced that DSV has signed on board as the main sponsor for the Moody Ques this year.
Envision Memphis, the gym on the top floor of the Cadre Building at Second and Monroe, has also signed on as a sponsor. They can help you forge a lifestyle of first-class fitness and well-being. Mark Akin of Envision is a friend of many on the team.
We know how to party in style with great locally brewed beer. We had Ghost River Golden and Ghost River Grindhouse Cream Ale on tap for our members and guests.
There were plenty of mixed drinks too.
Our Moody Ques West Virginia contingent: Mike, and our vegetarian from West Virginia, Aaron. That dip on the table there was outstanding.
After Kris’s presentation, it was time to dig in. Kris brought his signature rub and a selection of sauces for us to try.
One of Kris’s sauces was an Alabama white BBQ sauce. I have heard about this for years but never got to try it until yesterday. It was REALLY good, so good that I went back for seconds because I wanted more of it.
Josh who prints our team T-shirts and vice-president Jamie. Go see Josh at Winfield’s at 2 S. Main, across Madison from Walgreens, if you need team shirts printed. He does quality work at a very reasonable price.
After dinner we all gathered on the rooftop deck for team announcements, led by team vice-president Jamie. Even if you were not at yesterday’s team event, it is not too late to join the Moody Ques. Membership goes up by $5o on April 1, but for now it is $390 individual/$580 couple (must be an established, real-life couple). You can pay your dues on the team website (right sidebar on a monitor, bottom of the page on a mobile device). Here’s what your membership gets you:
- A park wristband that gets you into BBQ Fest without having to pay at the gate Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The wristband gets you access to Tom Lee Park during public park hours: 5:30-10:30 Wednesday, 11 AM-midnight Thursday and Friday, and 10 AM-10 PM Saturday. Some team members will have different wristbands with 24- hour access. These are for the cooks as well as people who stay late and arrive early to clean and carry out other duties.
- A rubber wristband that identifies you as a team member. That ensures quick entry into the booth during peak hours (7 PM-midnight Thursday and Friday) when we have an off-duty MPD officer working the door. You can also show the rubber wristband to the bartender, giving you priority service. Team members aren’t expected to tip the bartender but we hope that guests will.
- A team T-shirt. Read on, because I have VERY EXCITING NEWS about this. Closer to BBQ time we will put up a form where you can let us know your T-shirt size.
- Four paper wristbands each for Thursday and Friday nights, that you can give to guests to give them access to the booth during peak hours. We don’t require wristbands for booth entry Wednesday and Saturday and during non-peak hours Thursday and Friday (open until 7 PM). Again, read on, because I have more to say about this as well. We are changing the door policy for the better.
Since forming our team in 2012, we have finished in the top three in Best Booth five times, including two first-place finishes. This is great publicity for us because it gives us visibility. People come to see what a winning booth looks like, and of course that is a prime opportunity to get their eyes on our sponsors.
We are gunning for another first in Best Booth. Knowing that dignitaries from honored country the Czech Republic will be in attendance, we have an idea for a booth facade that will be immediately recognizable, and which will be a salute to their history and heritage.
We will have a double-decker structure again this year, so we will have a river view from the upper level even though our booth location is not on the riverside. The configuration of the structure will change this year, because our cook team has a 30-foot air-conditioned kitchen trailer and rig. We have upgraded to a larger space this year so there will be plenty of room for eating, socializing, getting to know our sponsors, and dancing.
Are we still a party team?
The past few years, we have had an emphasis on improvement as a cooking team, one that competes strongly in Shoulder and is in contention for trophies in both our main category and in ancillaries.
However, the cooking/party team thing is not an either/or. It’s an “and.” There will be plenty of dancing. There will be plenty of Jello shots. There will be plenty of spiked gummy worms. And who knows what other creations our team members will come up with… didn’t we have a spiked watermelon one year?
I mentioned recently that we have a retired professional illustrator doing the design for our team shirt this year, and if you’ve watched any TV in the past 30 years, you’ve seen this person’s work.
Let’s just say we hit a “Homer” when we connected with this illustrator.
How many people can say they own a custom-designed T-shirt by someone who worked as an illustrator for the longest-running TV sitcom in history… The Simpsons? You’ll be able to say that if you’re a member of the Moody Ques.
During his speech yesterday, Kris said he is very open to anyone who would like to help out in the kitchen, and if you have ideas for ancillary competitions, he would love to hear them. Ancillaries are Beef, Poultry, Seafood, Exotic, Tomato Sauce, Mustard Sauce, Vinegar Sauce, and Hot Wings. If you have ideas email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you in touch with Kris.
I have said for years we should cook a hippopotamus and enter it in Exotic, but no one ever listens to me.
Door/guest entry policy
We have an off-duty MPD officer who works security at the door during peak times, from 7 to midnight Thursday and Friday of BBQ Fest. He does a great job and the booth runs much more smoothly because he is there. Every year we give him guidelines on who should be allowed into the booth and who should not. It’s necessary to have a door policy for several reasons.
- The fire marshal enforces a capacity on number of people allowed in the booth, and comes by to check. We can be cited if we are above capacity.
- Furthermore, we need to stay enough below capacity so that team members and sponsors are never denied entry.
- Every year we have problems with moochers – people who obviously don’t know any team members, but who want to come in and eat and drink for free.
So the past several years, we have told our security officer that people must have a rubber team wristband or a paper guest wristband for that night to be allowed into our booth, during peak hours of 7-midnight Thursday-Friday. That policy, while better than not having one at all, has proved to be less than optimal.
Last year, I witnessed a situation where approximately 30 people were standing outside our booth, begging to be let in. These were people who clearly knew many people on the Moody Ques, who just wanted to come in and stay for maybe 15-20 minutes and see the booth. However, no one could be found who had a guest wristband for them (all of mine were either already given or were spoken for). So they remained on the outside looking in.
This would have made sense if we were near capacity. However, we weren’t. The booth was at maybe – at most – 20% of capacity at the time. The booth looked empty and it was empty. It seemed preposterous to me that we weren’t letting those people in. Number one, many of them would have left money in the tip jar. Number two, we want our booth to look like the place to be in Tom Lee Park, and an empty booth doesn’t do that. And number three and most importantly, we were pissing people off when there just wasn’t any need to do so.
The door is where you get your first impression of the Moody Ques. If it’s a negative one, that hurts our team brand and makes it harder to recruit members and sponsors in future years. It’s a public relations problem. And I’m director of public relations. So I’ve decided to exert influence over the door policy.
Yesterday at the team meeting, I proposed the following amendment to the rule: If the booth is less than 60% capacity, even during peak hours, we won’t require a guest wristband to come in. The team member can just meet their guest at the door and bring them in. So although you get 4 guest wristbands a night, you may be able to get more than 4 people in (just be reasonable about it; don’t invite 30 guests who all plan to come at the same time). When over 60% capacity, yes, enforce the guest wristband rule, to maintain enough space for members and sponsors to be able to get in.
In short, I want to cast a positive vibe at the door, and for our default answer to be “yes” rather than “no.” I am going to keep an eye on the door and if any team member is casting an overly negative vibe, I will ask them to move away.
I know there are people who wanted to join, but would not until this issue was addressed. I hope I have done that adequately. If there are concerns that keep you from paying dues and being part of the team, please talk to me.
Side note: I am banging my head against the wall for not taking my digital camera down there, and instead relying on my iPhone camera. Moving a video from an iPhone to a Windows laptop is like watching paint dry. I started the upload at 7:15 AM. It’s now 9:24 and it’s still only about three-fourths done.
Plans for today: Well, let’s just say that for the second time in 6 days, a new chapter begins. Of course, some things never change: I’ll be drinking PBR all afternoon. Back tomorrow with more news.