Surrey’s Brian Misko fell in love with the thrill of the grill seven years ago, and since March 2010, he’s been, as he says, “a professional barbecue guy.”
Two years ago, Misko quit his software job and began focusing on professional barbecuing. He began entering competitions and winning awards.
“In every competition we’ve won at least one award, if not many,” he said. “Grand championships and championships and things like that.”
One of the aspects of grilling that drew Misko to slow-cooked barbecuing is the “overwhelming flavour experience.”
“That’s one of the things that really struck me. There’s nothing that’s really subtle about it,” he said. “It just kind of smacks you around and you say, ‘damn this is good’.”
Misko’s next competition is close to home. The first-ever Cloverdale Cowboy Cook-off is set to heat up May 19 and 20, as part of the annual Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair, which runs from May 18-21.
More than 25 different teams will compete for $10,000 is cash prizes at the cook-off.
The competition begins Saturday afternoon (May 19) with a pie and chili contest at 1 p.m. Next is an Iron Chef-style contest, Battle Bacon at 4 p.m. Each team is given five pounds of bacon to make whatever they want, as long as the feature ingredient is bacon.
At 5 p.m., the dishes are submitted to the judges for evaluation. After the teams have submitted their food to the judges, they will pass out samples to the public.
The process, Misko says, can be intimidating, because you don’t really know what the judges are thinking.
“You’re just hoping for the best,” he said.
Teams begin cooking meat for Sunday’s Cloverdale Cowboy Cook-off after Battle Bacon, as some meats will be cooked for 12-16 hours. The teams will then turn in different meat entries to be judged every hour, on the hour, beginning at 11 a.m Sunday (May 20). Awards are given out at 5 p.m.
“Any given Sunday, you can have a good day or you can have a bad day. You have no idea – just take it as it is,” Misko said.
Misko was tight-lipped on his game plan for the cook-off.
“In competitive barbecue, there is a very clear game plan and there’s very particular rubs and seasonings that you use,” Misko said, “but they’re all top secret.”
Misko encourages people to attend the cook-off because that’s what he was doing seven years ago.
“I went to barbecue competitions just like the people coming to the Cloverdale cook-off and seven years later, here I am. It changed my life.”
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