The team was otherwise prepared thanks to Erik Hellgren, the set-up man who brought rain ponchos and boots while his wife, Angela, went out and bought golf umbrellas — the key to blocking the rain.
"The spice will make us win," said Tim Lutrull, a former cook and manager at the Branding Iron. Two other Branding Iron cooks, Jim Hunt and John Felton are on the team. "We're getting our feet wet to see how we stack up," Lutrull said.
"Perfect ribs are really hard to get," said Roger Petzoldt of Jackson, a member of the Nordenia-DCO Grill Team. "Last year we got first in ribs."
Petzoldt said that although first place in ribs is hard to achieve, it's the easiest category to judge. "It needs to come clean off the bone in one bite and the white bone remaining should have moisture forming on it."
Teammate Ronnie Medlin of Cape Girardeau said, "I can't eat ribs without judging them." The two have been competing at the Cape BBQ Fest for seven years and take the job seriously.
Casey Hertenstein, Jaycee chairman of the 16th annual Cape BBQ Fest, likes the leadership role. She stepped up to the position because it's worth it for the toys."Our whole mission is to provide toys for the Toybox at Christmas." The Cape BBQ Fest is one of the the Jaycees' two major fundraisers and with a dedicated committee, Hertenstein said they expect to raise between $5,000 and $8,000.
Although there were more teams last year, sponsorship was up with a total of 13 sponsors this year. She said Friday night's raffle, which they did not have last year, has already brought in $1,000.
Petzoldt and Medlin like the Kansas City-sanctioned competitions because they know what judges are looking for and get feedback they can trust. With a few mistakes over the years, they've learned through experience and by doing research. One year they purchased tough meat, so now they only buy the best. They've never burned the meat — likely because Petzoldt "babysits the racks," as he explained.
Medlin and Petzoldt both like the competition and do a lot of research on championship teams and recipes. They compete two or three times a year, have been in the top five in every category and won 16 trophies.
Medlin said the secret is their magic barbecue dust that "sometimes works."
For members of Three Knights and a Lutheran, the secret to winning is not using red-tipped lettuce. The name of their team refers to three of the members belonging to the Knights of Columbus. They all like to cook, and helping charities like Toybox is familiar for them. The Knights of Columbus holds a number of charity functions and cooking at them has given them a lot of experience. The five members have a combined 71 years of grilling experience.
Socializing with friends
Karlios Hinkebein of Cape Girardeau said his cousin, Ennis, participated in a team last year so Hinkebein's group decided to try it. All the meat, except chicken, comes from his antibiotic- and hormone-free farm, Hinkebein Hills Farm.
"This is how we relax," said team member Drew Shrum of Jackson. "If we weren't having fun, we wouldn't be doing it. It's a very social team."
Most of the team members have been friends for more than 20 years and always cooked at different houses for different holidays.
Hinkebein said, "Ribs and pulled pork are our best." He didn't think they had much chance at winning the chicken category.
Still experimenting, the team likes to try different spices and methods of flavoring the meat. They take the same product and do it different ways. Their brisket selection included Texas, garlic, barbecue marinade and tenderizing rubs.
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