Friday, March 30, 2012

Sausage is the new Hamburger! – Currywurst, Los Angeles

That’s right! One big long tasty piece of sausage is all you need to hit the spot. Burger’s are so yesterday. I found out about Currywurst on Facebook through their Valentines Day special with German model Jordan Carver. For the month of February every Tuesday for twenty minutes and eleven seconds we had FREE sausages for everybody that walked in the door.

FREE in this country? This place has to be doing something right if they are giving out free sausage. I looked them up and found out they were owned and run by the very successful and well-known German catering chef Kai Loebach. I was sold! I needed to get in and find out more about this “Über Juicy Sausage Fest!”.

I could tell from Chef Kai’s resume which includes Presidents to Mick Jagger that he wasn’t making just any ordinary German sausage. Not even, this chef is selling perfection. To put it in an American perspective German chefs don’t fuck around its cook or die. When it comes to the sausage fight club Chef Kai is the master.

We all know the rules to that club! Don’t talk when your eating sausage and don’t eat sausage when your talking. Currywurst get’s right to the point offering the perfect sausage for everyone no matter if your the carnivore or the vegan.

I got the chance to sit down with Kai and enjoy a lovely taste of German perfection and find out exactly what Currywurst is all about.

MEAT ME: So what is this that I am eating?

Chef Kai: (German Accent) This is the Hungarian sausage with our grilled onions and homemade mustard. The mustard is a little bit of sweet and spicy mustard that we make.

MEAT ME: What type of meat is in it?

Chef Kai: Only pork.

MEAT ME: Any particular part of the pig?

Chef Kai: Pork Butt. It is pork butt, garlic, paprika, and obviously seasoning.

MEAT ME: What about this white sausage in the ketchup sauce?

Chef Kai: Currywurst. The original currywurst from Germany is a white sausage. Sometimes they use bratwurst and knockwurst but those 2 sausages are so similar that you can barley tell them apart. Even with the German’s they can’t (tell the difference). If you tell somebody ok this is the bratwurst, they look at it… They take it as a bratwurst. It’s just the wording really it is a combination of veal and pork and it’s a more fluffier sausage so it gets whipped.

What the hamburger is the Americans, Currywurst is to the Germans.

In Germany this dish as you have it, is sold over 800 million times a year annually. That is a huge number. You can imagine there are a gazillion places on a lot of corners and it is usually a dive. You will never find something as clean as here in Germany.

MEAT ME: In terms of restaurants?

Chef Kai: No in terms of this Currywurst places. In Germany it is called an Imbiss, which are basically fast food places. In Germany you don’t necessarily sit at a table. You stand at a counter and eat or you walk with it. Germany is also a place where people walk more. Here if you don’t have a parking spot in front of the door people saying oh there is no parking. We have a parking lot there (points north on Fairfax) you can park at the Grove there is plenty of parking but if you don’t have anything right out side there is no parking.

So in Germany this type of stuff gets eaten while you are walking. It is a differently mentality and the way it is severd here is we enhance the ketchup sauce a little bit. In Germany the traditional way with a lot of places is just pure ketchup. Our ketchup sauce contains certified organic ketchup, which has no corn products and is made with sugar. So it is already a different product but we also enhance it with organic tomatoes, seasonings and curry power. So it is a little bit more of a thicker sauce and a little bit more marinara (type) because I am not a believer of pouring just ketchup over it. If you go to better establishments in Germany you still get a nicer sauce. These people that sell these types of food are still a far cry from a chef or even from a cook.

It is like someone just wanted to open a Currywurst place. They don’t know anybody so they go to Costco and they buy ketchup in a large container and they just squirt it on it.

MEAT ME: Currywurst… How do you explain that to the average American?

Chef Kai: Your Fucked! (we laughed out loud) See that is the reason why we are not doing so well. When I started thinking about what I am gonna call it; am I gonna call it “Sausage Land” am I gonna call it “Knockwurst Haven” or “Sausage Kingdom” or whatever. I thought no I wanted to use “Currywurst”. Currywurst is the German name for it and the Americans just have to get used to it. It’s a learning process. Anytime you introduce anything foreign in this country it takes a while to incorporate it into the system. If you translate it people get turned off because it has the word “curry” in it, and the word “wurst”. It could be the worst curry? (he jokes) So they think, “ Why would we go there? It’s a bad Indian restaurant.” What we did is put up these words into the window to refer to what it could be. Brats, we have sausages, tater munchen those are all American invented words they are not existing in Germany these words. It is like the same with “Farfegnugen” it was an amazing advertising campaign by VW but the word farfegnugen does not exist in German. It is really difficult to translate the word into something that Americans can understand. Any Amercian that has been to Germany would be familiar with it. You come to America you have a hamburger you go to Germany you have a currywurst or a something similar to that. So that is the difficult part.

MEAT ME: So what is your background in terms of culinary experience?

Chef Kai: I am a fully trained chef I went to culinary school for three and a half years in Germany and learned the business from the ground up. Three and a half really hard years; in Germany the system is a little different. Each town basically has its own culinary school. Its not like here where it is all about school; there it is all about practice you work at a restaurant for five or six days a week depending on where you end up and you go to school one day. Here in the states the course is six months long, you only go to school, and when you come out of school you have no clue about the business. In Germany you can’t let loose on anything you know what it takes. From day one you’re on the line you know what to do. Yes you have to learn the basics and that is what you do for three and a half years. Those are really long hours. It has been compared to slavery that is what it is.

When I talk to somebody and they tell me they are thinking about going to culinary school I say think about it. Compared to American standards, culinary school in Germany is slavery. I cannot tell you how many times my supervisor rammed a meat fork into my ass… I mean it drew blood! There is no way of calling them an “Asshole” or “Screw You!” You would have lost your job immediately. You can’t just sue anybody; that is just not how it is. It is really hardcore, France is the same so I went through that.

I came to the states when I was really young just finished culinary school. I worked in Europe and Germany and then I came here and got a job at the Century Plaza Hotel. I was actually homeless for a week; I slept on the street I only had $2,000 dollars to my name with 2 suite cases including my knives that I traveled here with. I had a job as a chef at the Century Plaza Hotel but felt like they were taking advantage of me because I was only making $3.25 an hour. Since I was on a student visa they could take advantage of me and not have to pay me any kind of real salary. I left after 6 months and said this is not for me. I was making 2,000 salad roses a day and nobody cared about what I do.

So I started catering and with in a year I established my own catering company that I still have to this day and is now in its 25th year. It is doing really well, so well that I can afford this hobby (Currywurst), basically. This is not covering any cost at the moment. So I need the catering business to subsidize this little hobby. The plan was to open this 20 years ago since this is food that I grew up with and everybody was familiar with it in Germany. Every time I started looking into it the time wasn’t right. I was too busy catering or some kind of hurdle was in my way. 2 years ago when the economy tanked the catering business wasn’t doing so well so I thought that maybe this was the time to open an establishment with a six dollar and fifty cent price point where you can get full on something inexpensive and still be great quality.

There was this German trend that started about 2 years ago so I thought this was perfect I’ll fit right in. It took me a year to find the location and it took me another 8 months to build out the space. So it was a long time before the sign went up and with the city being so difficult and throwing so many sticks into my way it took me 8 months to open such a small place. We did it and I am glad that I did but would I do it again? Hum I am not sure. Maybe with a different name because it is difficult to establish something that people are not very familiar with. I mean if I had a hamburger or a weinersnitchel written on the door… It is something that they know. Currywurst was a challenge to myself and I didn’t want to give into the American mentality of promoting something that everybody can identify with. I wanted to make it interesting. For example we have this campaign running right now “Über Juicy Sausage Fest” that’s what we do. We have this gorilla sign (sausage xing sign) I am hoping that it stays up but it is not a legal sign so the city can take it down at anytime. You have no idea how many people stop here and get out of the car just to take a picture of it.

MEAT ME: That is so funny. I knew whom you guys where from Jordan Carver’s Facebook page; when she was promoting your place on Valentines Day. I thought that you guys were in Germany. I was walking home from the Grove and I saw your sausage xing sign and I looked to the left and saw your store front and I couldn’t believe that is was the same Currywurst. We had been talking on twitter before that had even happen.

Chef Kai: Jordan Carver came in February for the New Year campaign. That month on every Tuesday for twenty minutes and eleven seconds we had free sausages for everybody that walked in the door and we were advertising that on Facebook and Twitter. Jordan Carver, being a German model, tweeted it on her page as well so that the crowds rattled up.

MEAT ME: So how many sausages do you have?

Chef Kai: We have 3 different sausages. We have the pork and the veal. We have just the pork, which is the Hungarian. We have the Thüringer which is a region in Germany, it identifies with the style of sausage it’s a longer sausage. In Germany it is made out of pork as well. Germany is a pig land, but coming to this country you have to be flexible and you have to cater to different ethnic groups so I decided to make the Thüringer a chicken version. Because of the chicken I didn’t want to introduce a natural pork casing so we decided to do a collagen casing on the chicken.

MEAT ME: What is that exactly (collagen)?

Chef Kai: Collagen is a beef product. It is extracted out of beef so if you want to smear the sausage on your face you might get rid of wrinkles (laughing). Then we have the 2 vegan sausages. One is a smoked apple and the other is a much spicier version the chipotle. The sides we have; the sauerkraut we get from a German company who makes it with no preservatives the only thing they do is shred the cabbage and they marinate it. It is not really great to eat it like this so we prepare it; I use my grandmother’s recipe. The foundation of the recipe is an all natural and has no preservatives. This is very important because all of the products that you buy at the super market have preservatives in it and I get an upset stomach right away after that. There are so many health benefits to sauerkraut, if you buy it out of a jar the preservatives take away all of the… the… (sorry I have a hard time speaking in English when I am thinking in German so whatever is Spanglish to me is “Germish”! (too funny) What I am saying is all of the health benefits that sauerkraut has, with preservatives, you’re better off eating chemicals. Our French fries we use great oil for it, it’s the top of the line that money can buy it shows in the quality. We have five or six different sauces for the French fries we have the chipotle mayo, roasted garlic, ranch, regular mayonnaise, which is really all you needed in Germany. Cause we are in America you have to have all these choices. Germany you go into a place like this you say, “Darf ich ein currywurst MIT rot und weiss bitte” Which means red/white; red for ketchup and white for mayonnaise. There is no question of how you want the meat or how you want the French fries. This is what you get. Its like if you order decaf coffee in Frankfurt and the waiter brings the coffee and you say is this decaf the waiter says to you its coffee. You have to be flexible here.

It is not like the Würstkuche in downtown they have a great product but this place is more based on the concept of In-N-Out Burgers where your known for one product and you want to do this one product really well. The other thing is if you go too crazy and the Germans come in and the taste it and they say, “He’s been in America way too long. This is not currywurst any longer this is some American way.” I want it to be true to the original way of early currywurst. We don’t have rattlesnake sausage, we don’t have crocodile sausage we don’t have a lamb sausage. With the different seasons and Easter coming up we will most likely introduce a lamb sausage. For thanksgiving we had a turkey sausage and sweet potato fries and cranberry sour cream. I am trying to make it interesting but other than that it is basically currywurst.

MEAT ME: What is your favorite?

Chef Kai: I go between the Hungarian and the Currywurst. Personally I can never go wrong with the currywurst but I also like what you have there. The Hungarian with the sweet mustard and the onions I could eat that everyday but I can’t afford it because I will gain weight.

MEAT ME: You mean just like me! (laughs)

Chef Kai: At the same time this is not something you eat everyday (even though some people in Germany do) but there is not high fructose corn syrup in it and there really aren’t any ingredients in there that are bad for you. Fried food to a degree is not that bad for you. It’s not like these French fries are soaked in bad oil we change the oil every few days, the onion is a natural product the same with the sausages its an all natural product there are no nitrates in it. It is all those preservatives that America really has a problem with. I do my best to avoid it. Your Diet Coke that’s the worst. When you start introducing those artificial sweeteners into your diet is when you’re really fucked. I learned about all this from my nutrition classes. A little sugar goes along way. It all really comes down to portion control.

What are you waiting for? We have a little piece of authentic German culture right here in our own LA backyard. You owe it to yourself to take advantage of it.

You can check out Authentic German Currywurst of Los Angeles at:

aka Sean Rice

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lucky Peach - A Hip Magazine 4 Everything Food

Finally… the coolest piece of editorial I have seen in a long time; a cool fucking magazine about FOOD. Lucky Peach. This particular issue focuses on Cooks and Chefs with an exploration into how things where, are, and might end up being. The entire mag is done by industry professionals not people like me who sit on their ass, stuff their faces and then tell you all about it later. These people live this stuff.

In one of the opening spread’s titled Eat, Drink, Fuck, Die writer Anthony Bourdain serves up his tasty perspective on some well known films about food. He rants and raves about Eat Drink Man Women, Munich, and La Grande Bouffe. I could not help but relate to, “Food can be a vessel for “love” or contain in some way the “soul” of the cook who prepared it!” I could not help but drool as he describes scene’s from the movies you might want to eat before you read this one.

The next story goes deep into the art of owning and running a restaurant with chefs Fred Morin and Davin McMillan of Joe Beef and Liverpool house in Montreal. They touch on the details of cleanliness, starting out, the system, and being a chef covering the A to Z of the restaurant biz. “The Art of Toilet Cleanliness According to Joe Beef” gives you great perspective from someone with over 22 years of experience in the biz.

The story finishes with how to make Cahard Au Sang aka Canard Á La Presse which involves crushing the carcass of a duck to extract its juices and blood. Sounds delish! How could anyone pass that up?

The next interview is with a cook on the South Pole. Holy Shit! There is a job on the South Pole cooking food and this guy tells you all about it. It is so interesting you should be clicking this link right now to order it and read it for yourself. Truly a unique perspective you might want to put a jacket on to read it.

Ever thought of being a lunch lady? Rachel Khong gives you an inside look into what it is like being Julia Xiomara Alvarez Oweis at Flynn Elementary in San Francisco, California. It is a lot more interesting then one might think.

Batali Beat is written by famous chef Mario Batali he takes you through a brief history of cooking with Julia Child all the way to the modern day foodie. How people became cooks because there where no other jobs; to how chefs today will spend a life time attaining perfection. Now days with TV and the internet people are becoming more educated about what there is to eat and Mario speaks on how that effects the future of the culinary industry.

I was so excited to read this, “The Celebrity Distillation Apparatus: Chris Cechin on Chefs in the Media” Chris breaks down the difference between “celebrity chef “and “celebrity made chefs” like Mario Batali vs Rachael Ray. Great insight into real versus the unreal and how everything is driven by networks and their sponsors. What has the Food Network done for us? And what is it doing to us now? Read it he will tell you!

Food Art by Matt Furie! Need I say more? Anytime there is art about food I am there? I don’t think it is done enough and this magazine is full of it. Love it! Love it!

Thinking about going to culinary School?  Well they cover all of that too, it’s a big decision to make and Mark Wilson sifts through all the things to consider.

The death of fine cooking. Is it possible? Is fast food and chain restaurants killing fine dining? Dave Chang talks about the way food was and where it is today. I found it interesting that there are things that we can do as young chefs and consumers to help support and educate ourselves about what fine dining really is and how to support it.

Towards the end there is a lovely 5 page illustrated story about "The Secret Lives of Chefs" by Lisa Hanawalt probably the cutest thing I have ever seen. It includes some of my favorite chefs Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, and Julia Child just to name a few.

If you are looking for information, a great perspective, or just some culinary entertainment? Subscribe to Lucky Peach. I can't encourage you enough to pick up this well done creative delight. Support quality entertainment and it will love you back. Not to mentions it is packed full of recipes.

Order Now and receive 40% off the cover price!
Here is the link to subscribe
Follow on Twitter @LuckyPeach

Sean Rice
aka MEAT ME!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Santa Anita BBQ Competition 2012

It couldn’t be a better day for a BBQ competition. It is hot but not too hot, it is packed but not over crowded and the smell of BBQ filled the air. When most people in Los Angeles, California hear the words BBQ they think of summer, swim suits by the pool, and hot dogs and hamburgers over an open flame. That is not real BBQ, it is a myth created by television.

The most perfect day to have a BBQ Competition and eat as much BBQ as possible.

Real BBQ is cooking meat, poultry and occasionally fish with heat and the hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of charcoal. Typically, to grill is to cook in this manner quickly, while barbecue is typically a much slower method utilizing less heat than grilling, attended to over an extended period of several hours.

Meat fans feed each other as Rooftop shows off their trophies and BBQ sauce.

Barbecue competitions are a whole other sport. Professional barbecue competitors will spend tens of thousands of dollars to build the perfect smoker in order to achieve that exemplary barbecue taste. They will spend countless hours smoking to enjoy a piece of meat that may take 5 minutes to eat. Spending that much time, money, and effort has got to be worth it.

People line up for Rooftop's pork ribs.

I have always loved BBQ and came across the blog and was introduced to Aaron Black.  A professional smoker with a passion to educated people on barbecuing for themselves. He invited me out to the Santa Anita BBQ Competition as a fellow meat lover how could I turn him down.

MEAT Inc's smoked skin on pork shoulder.

I headed out to Santa Anita Race track for the time of my life. Only heaven had 37 BBQ teams competing to be the best BBQ. When I arrived I expected to see a billow of smoke coming out of the middle of the track. That was not the case but the sweet smell of smoke hit my nose the second I got off the freeway. 

Pork gets pulled as people dive in to MEAT Inc's pork ribs.

I parked, got my ticked and headed into meat town. I skipped breakfast just for this day. I walked on to the BBQ grass field of meat battle for some of the greatest flavors my mouth had ever experienced. The second I met Aaron Black of Meat Inc. I had so many questions and here is what he had to say.

Aaron Black of MEAT Inc works the BBQ as some smoked bologna.

MEAT ME: Who judges these BBQ’s? What makes someone a certified BBQ judge?

Aaron Black: Typically the judges are certified BBQ judges; by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. They have to take classes. This particular event the judges are 100% CBJ qualified, 3 or 4 of them are first timers, which means they took their class not too long ago and this is their first event being a judge.

Left: Pork Fatty: Hot dogs, home made chili wrapped with sausage and weaved bacon.
Right: Breakfast Fatty: pancakes, apple pie filling, and cream cheese wrapped with sausage and a weaved layer of bacon.

MEAT ME: How many judges are there?

Aaron Black: There is one judge for every team. So 37 teams, 37 judges; no judge will taste more than one of your meat types. So if you turn in chicken to judge one, he won’t try any of your brisket, pulled pork, or ribs. It will then go to another judge. A lot of people moan that if it is not 100 percent CBJ they will get bad scores because your loosing that consistency across the board from competition to competition. A lot of people complain that the judges don’t have more training; may be they get stuck in a rut and all of a sudden they don’t like anything spicy and they only prefer sweet. It is kind of a tricky thing. Some people cook to the judges and do a really good job; and some people cook what they like and they typically don’t win. Some people try to make a happy medium which is kind of where we are at.

Aaron Black carefully cuts the pork fatty to give to carefully selected taste buds.

MEAT ME: So how many different MEAT’s are cooked?

Aaron Black: There are 4 meats in every competition. You start out with chicken; then you go to pork ribs; then you go to pork butt; and then you go to brisket.

Aaron Black explaining how they make their Pork Fatty!
MEAT ME: So is brisket the only beef that they have?

Aaron Black: Yes.

MEAT ME: How many years have you guys been doing this?

Aaron Black: Since 2005. 

All the meat you could ever need from MEAT Inc.

MEAT ME: How many events do you guys do in a year?

Aaron Black: We do between 9 and 11 events a year. We’ll do as many events as my wife will let me do. That is basically the limitation.

MEAT ME: What kid of meats did you guys bring today?

Aaron Black: We brought all kinds of extra meat for people’s choice (the people get to vote for their favorite BBQ as well) we always bring extra chicken, cause people love chicken. We brought bratwurst cause that’s easy to cook and its relatively inexpensive. We also did pulled pork and we made brisket chili. We just came back from Lake Havasu where we won first place in chili and first place in people’s choice chili. So today we did the same chili we made there.

LEFT: Barbecue Chicken RIGHT: MEAT Inc's signature Pork Balls.

MEAT ME: How did you get into this?

Aaron Black: One of my buddies; his dad sold BBQ’s. So we bought up a bunch of BBQ’s and thought this was great. My friend said, “Hey my Dad’s gonna be in this BBQ competition!” and thought, “Hell yeah! We can do that too!”. So we went out cooked meat, played cards, drank a few beers, threw some meat in a box and had a great time. We only did 1-3 contest a year and now we take it a lot more seriously.

The MEAT Inc. team safely guards their precious beef brisket as they take it to the judges.

MEAT ME: How many of you guys are there?

Aaron Black: We have 4 core members but today we have 18 guys.

MEAT ME: How many people do you serve up at these events?

Aaron Black: Today we will server about 1,500, probably more.

MEAT Inc. drops off their Beef Brisket with the KCBS judges.

MEAT ME: So what is your favorite MEAT?

Aaron Black: I really like chicken. A lot of these BBQ guys don’t like chicken because they have to cook it all the time. I love it. I cook chicken almost every weekend.

MEAT ME: And you like it barbecued?

Aaron Black: Yea

People stand around MEAT Inc. as they enjoy their beef brisket.

MEAT ME: So you guys do rub and then smoke?

Aaron Black: Yea our competition chicken we actually do a butter bath. We cook it in butter and brown sugar for about 40 minutes and then we put it on the grate. It is really sweet and really juicy.

We are about to cook smoked spam, do you like smoked spam (spam fries)?

MEAT ME: I don’t know.

Aaron Black: Well you’re about to (laughs).

Aaron Black of MEAT Inc. slices up his Spam Fries.

I was so fascinated by what the judges do that I just so happened that as the judges were leaving I was able to grab KCBS Judge Steve Alvarez and ask him a few question about what a barbecue judge really does.

The judges stop by Meat Inc. to give thanks for participating in the BBQ competition.

MEAT ME: What is involved when judging BBQ?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: Every BBQ society has its own standards and qualifications when judging. In this particular instance it is the Kansas City Barbecue society. There are 4 basic categories Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder, and Brisket. Those 4 are always included in the competition. 

KCBS Judge Steve Alvarez

MEAT ME: What do you look for when judging BBQ?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: What The 3 things that we look for when judging individual meat entries is its appearance, the second thing we look at is tenderness, and finally the most important would be flavor. We score every one of those items individually. We grade every single entry to the same standards. We don’t compare the meats to each other; each entry stands on its’ own.

Evil Pig BBQ prepares their perfect Beef Brisket for the Judges.

KCBS Steve Alvarez: I love being able to taste the best of the best.

Spicy Bull's Eye BBQ Sauce over pork shoulder.

MEAT ME: How many meat’s might you taste in one event?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: 6 meats per entry times 4 is 24 meats. I take a good bite out of each one so I can give a fair judgment. If I am going to grade something really high, I generally give it a second bite to make sure I am right before I give it a top score. 

Pork shoulder from High Gravity with their Spicy BBQ sauce.

MEAT ME: What about low scores?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: I also do the same thing for the lower scores. If I taste something that isn’t getting a very good score I will always give them a second bite to make sure my first conclusion was correct. This is how I operate. Generally its one good bite per meat and you can generally tell what you are getting.

A mother feeds her husband, as he feeds his son. Everybody needs their BBQ.

MEAT ME: What does one have to go through in order to become a judge?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: The Kansas City Barbecue Society hold periodic judging classes. I lived in California at the time; there was a judging class in Lake Havasu; I drove down there to pay the fee and take the class. It is a 4-hour class. 2 hours of classroom and 2 hours of practical application. It was open discussion after you tasted your meat and you got an idea of a system. 

I have never seen a little girl so excited for BBQ, that is until I tasted their Pork Shoulder.

KCBS Steve Alvarez: After that you are considered qualified and you start entering competitions. You are judging along master judges who have been judging as many as 30 to 40 judging years under their belt. You learn from them and no one is ashamed of discussing it afterward. We discuss the meats after they are graded and the scores are turned in. It’s a “What did you think of this? And what did you think of that?” and that is a learning experience as well. It is an education all the way through you’re never gonna stop learning about meat.

Here is Big Mista's pulled pork shoulder just soaking in juice after being smoked for several hours.

MEAT ME: What is your favorite type of MEAT?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: Well my initial favorite was always pork ribs. That is how I got into this. As time has gone on I have tasted such wonderful, wonderful meats that now I am thinking that a very well cooked brisket will compete with a very good rib. A brisket is very difficult to cook, and get top scores – than when you find it, it is very, very good. 

Pork It Up's beef brisket put on yesterday around 8pm. They let it marinate with a little garlic, worcestershire sauce, and smoked it with some mosquito and red oak. They are from Sacramento, CA.

The BBQ at this event was amazing it didn't take a judge to see that. I arrived at the event at 1pm and by 3pm most of the stands were out of BBQ. When I arrived at the event I payed $4 to get in (which also gave me access to the horse races, and then $10 for my vote ticked and $10 in food tickets. For a taste it cost me $2 per stand which wasn't bad at all. I was almost full by the 5 stand.

Last horse race of the day before the awards ceremony.

I didn't bet on any horse races but you could tell from the screaming that a lot of the people around me did. This really was the setting for a perfect day. A belly filled with just about every spice ever made, the weather was perfect, and I was at a sporting event. It is the perfect place to bring the family and an ideal event for a pregnant women to over indulge (I saw like 20 pregnant women there, they must love this stuff). As Aaron's wife explained it to me, "It is the perfect place for woman where all she can do is eat!"

Rooftop BBQ runs up to collect their trophy for Best Pork Ribs.

After the last race of the day it was time to give out the awards. Everyone gathers around as they announce the best of the best. It really wasn't a competitive as I was expecting a lot of these people were friends and where very happy for all the winners. My next quest is to try the food of all the winners to see what it takes to be the best.

The TOP winners of the 2012 Santa Anita BBQ Competition.

Starting Top Left to Right, Top then Bottom :
Winner Best Chicken - The Pitt Crew BBQ
Winner Best Pork Ribs - Roof Top BBQ
Winner Best Pork Shoulder - Brazen BBQ
Winner Best Brisket - Bad Ass BBQ
Winner Peoples Choice - Big Mista's BBQ
Runner Up Best Overall - Leftcoast Q
Winner Overall - Slap Yo Daddy  BBQ

All amazing things must come to an end.
They may not be in the top 10 but their passion for MEAT creativity is enough to leave you wanting more.

Scoring results…

BBQ Chicken
1 The Pit Crew BBQ
2 Fun Time BBQ
3 Butchers Daughter
4 Slap Yo Daddy
5 Leukemia Sucks Too
6 Leftcoast Q
7 Big Papa Smokers
8 Smokin’ Yankee’s
9 All kinds of BBQ
10 All Hogs Go To Heaven

BBQ Pork Ribs
1 Rooftop BBQ
2 Big Daddy Q’n Crew
3 Patlans Applewood BBQ
4 Smokin Yankees
5 Leftcoast Q
6 All Kinds of BBQ
7 Lady of Q
8 Butchers Daughter
9 The Rub Company
10 Hog Wild BBQ

BBQ Pork Shoulder
1 Brazen BBQ
2 Simply Marvlous BBQ
3 Burnin & Lootin
4 Chillin and Grillin
5 Who’s Smoking Now
6 Mad Dogs BBQ
7 Big Papa Smokers
8 Lady of Q
9 Hog Wild
10 The Rub Company

1 Bad Ass BBQ
2 When Pigs Fly
3 Slap Yo Daddy BBQ
4 Butchers Daughters BBQ
5 Mad Dogs
6 All Sauced Up
7 the Rub Co.
8 Leftcoast Q
10 Big Daddy’s Q’n and Crew

Over All BBQ
1 Slap Yo Daddy BBQ
2 Leftcoast Q
3 Butchers Daughter
4 Burnin’ and Lootin’
5 Who’s Smoking Now
6 Big Daddys Q’n Crew
7 Smokin’ Yankees 
8 All Sauced Up
9 Fun Time BBQ
10 Brazen BBQ

Peoples Choice Award
BigMista’s Barbecue

The end of a long day at an empty Santa Anita Race Track.

I would like to thank Aaron Black at MEAT Inc. for inviting me out and making me their special guest. I would also like to thank Steve Alvarez for his time and inside into being a KCBS Judge. If you ever have the chance to go to a BBQ competition, go for it. I would do it all over again.

I encourage you to check out for all your BBQ needs and how where and when MEAT Inc. will be next.

BBQ is Life,
Sean Rice 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MEAT: A True Love Story, BEEF Taste Test - Part 4

Here it is. The 4th and final chapter in Moo to Mouth MEAT: A True Love Story. I have always thought that beef tasted the same, but only changed when flavor was added to it. Boy was I wrong. I spoke with Beef Tasting Enthusiast Carrie Oliver from the Artisan Beef Institute. So many factors play a role in how cooked beef will taste.

In this video I have 3 different types of beef from 3 different cows, all grass finished at 3 different times. 2 of the samples (fall & spring) of are from Megan Brown at the Table Mountain Ranch and one sample is from Lindy & Grundy Meats. I am able to taste such a wide range of flavors just between these 3 samples.

I am not a professional beef taste tester but with the help of Carrie Oliver's Offical Artisan Beef Tasting Guide I am about to describe what it is that I am tasting. As it turns out beef tasting is a lot like wine there are so many different types and there is an art to tasting it. Here is a like to Carrie's official tasting guides:

I hope everyone has enjoyed this series. I would like to thank Megan Brown and the Table Mountain Ranch, Jenny Dewey and the Chico Locker and Sausage Co. and Lindy and Grundy Meat's for taking the time to let me see into their lives and educate my readers on where MEAT comes from. I would also like to thank you my readers for your your support, I could not do this without you.

My next quest is to work on a cattle ranch during the slaughtering season as well as a meat processing plant for a week (at each) and video tape my experience and share it with you. My goal is to educate consumers as to how and where their meat comes from. I feel that if we educate consumers ranter than shove negative propaganda in their face they can better understand the choices when buying agriculture. Just like every organization there is the good and the bad. Read your labels and educated yourself about what it is you are eating and where it is coming from. If we start doing this now in 10 years we are more likely to be eating what we want rather than what we are told we want. It is up to us to support the right way of doing things.

If you are interested in helping me out on my next quest please feel free to contact me at meatmeblog(at)gmail(dot)com I look forward to hearing from you and changing the world together.

To the greater good,
Sean Rice

Starting today and till this Saturday I will be on the road trying different meats between Los Angeles and San Francisco with photographer Robert Kerian you can check out my video blog updates at my tublr page @
or you can follow me on twitter @meatemblog

You can also find Carrie Oliver @carrieoliver

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