BBQ Fest 2013: Friday

Okay, I feel really bad right now. It’s about 9 Saturday morning and our team treasurer Frank just sent out an email. Our booth is “an unholy mess” right now and judging is in two hours. He needs help immediately. Now, you all know what a hard worker I am. I want to be down there cleaning up the beer and mud so bad. But there are only so many 24-hour park passes allotted per team, and I don’t have one. So I can’t get down there to work. I have to wait until the park opens at 10, and actually I can’t go then either because I have to check and make sure everything is under control at the Flying Saucer when it opens at 11. Not being able to be there for my team is a terrible feeling.

An example of my hard work happened yesterday when the ice truck came by. The woman driving the truck saw me standing near the front of the booth and yelled, “DO YOU NEED ICE?” I pointed at Frank, who proceeded to buy 8 bags, and he and John D carried them in as I took another sip of beer and checked Facebook on my phone. That was a total team effort making that ice purchase.

All right, let’s take a look at the camera so I can remember what happened yesterday.


I got to the booth about 11:45 and breakfast was being served. I am really digging this concept of “something to eat in the booth before 7 PM” which is a new and different thing for the team this year. Above: Bacon. Not pictured: Sausage, English muffins, hashbrowns, eggs.


Another example of Moody Ques teamwork at its finest. Frank and John D shoveled the mud off the sidewalk while I stood there and took pictures.




The Best Booth trophy


Our entry for Seafood


The Best Booth sign


Buddha and Uncle Ray


There was plenty of Fireball in the booth.


Mid-afternoon four of us made a call to Air Traffic Mike‘s 1-800-BAD-IDEA hotline.


Only the finest ingredients for our beer-can chicken.


The Nuh-Uh Girl wearing her dinner


Corey putting the beer can chicken on the grill


Team T-shirt


As with any competition, practice is important. This was our “practice shoulder” which came off the smoker yesterday.


Ribs, fresh off the smoker.


If there were a trophy for Best Bartenders we would have won it.


Dusty getting ready to serve the beer-can chicken




So, among all the drunk photos there is actually going to be some useful information in this post. This is Craig and he writes a blog called Memphis Que. There is a lot more BBQ to eat in this city than Corky’s and The Rendezvous, and Craig is your guide.


Katie Mac and a rack, part 2. Normally I make fun of people who wear heels to BBQ Fest, but I’ll give Val a pass on account of Val’s hot.


Early in the day Krista (in the middle, with beret) came by and congratulated us on Best Booth and I thought to myself, “Is that the really loud girl who hangs out with Ashley?” Later in the day she came back and commented, “You only recognize me when I’m with Ashley.”

Full album (115 photos) here. You may notice that in all the pics that made the blog, the sun is up. That is because the after-dark pictures (with a couple of exceptions) are REALLY, REALLY BAD. We’re getting to that point of BBQ Fest where the patrons are as messed up as the park is. I am worn out and need a vacation from my vacation. I may have to call in to work Monday with some lame excuse like “my dog died” or “I forgot to put gas in the car and now it won’t run” or “Bill the horse stepped on my foot” so I can get some rest.

It’s not over yet though. The judges come by the booth at 11 to sample the championship shoulder. Awards ceremony is at 6. We also have a blogger from Serious Eats coming today. Time to put an exclamation point at the end of an awesome year at Tom Lee Park.

BBQ Fest: 2013 Friends & Family

Last night was the first night at Tom Lee Park, for Friends & Family Night of Memphis in May BBQ Fest. It’s a night to get acquainted with new teammates and the booth.


Our booth facade


Jeremy and Graham in front of the WordPress logo


Our pitmaster, Chef David Scott Walker






The “burger dog.” Chef DSW kept it simple with picnic fare last night, but today things get fancier with a fish fry and a whole hog luau.


Members of Voodoo Que stopped by


Jello shots made with Fireball


We have all the accessories needed for a good time at BBQ Fest


A familiar sight


Puckett getting down


Tube Shots. Wear a tube top to our booth and you might get a Tube Shot.


Moody Ques after dark


Many of the team left early to watch the Grizzlies. I walked to our sponsor the Blind Bear to watch the Grizz advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time ever.

Complete photo album (62 photos) here.

Okay, a couple of “first impression” comments:

1) I entered the park at 5:30 and it’s about a 15 minute walk south to our booth. When I got there there was already food coming off the grill. Seems like the previous two years at Friends & Family Night there was nothing to eat before about 9 PM. Chef DSW is serious about feeding us, and winning. And it seems like he’s having a really good time doing it.

2) In the seven years I’ve been a BBQ team member, this is easily our best booth design ever. Both upstairs and down are open and spacious. One person commented, “It’s not a maze like it was last year.” That downstairs space is going to make a great dance floor tonight, with playlist by DJ Cody. Also note that we hid the bar from the sidewalk while consuming the minimum amount of space doing it. Visible bar from the sidewalk is tantamount to announcing “Free Drinks Here; Come Mooch.” Absolute A+ to the people who designed the booth.

And we flew the flag right side up!

Two former team members told me “Oh my God, Paul, if we had any idea it would be this awesome, we would have joined this year. We’re back next year.” Also, I already had a new team member saying she has a friend who is a prospect for next year’s team. BBQ Fest never goes perfectly but I think it’s safe to say we are on an upward trajectory this year.

Today is going to be a blast. I’ll pre-game with a beer or two at the Flying Saucer at 11, then hit the park.

Moody Ques BBQ team update: New pitmaster who’s in it to win it, menus planned for each team meal, booth with two large stories, parties in the evenings with drinks by Blind Bear and music playlist by DJ Cody

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 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.