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Cedar Mill News
Volume 6, Issue 9


September 2008
John Roberts tends ribs
John checks his ribs early Sunday morning

Local team delivers award-winning barbecue
by Virginia Bruce

For the past two years Cedar Mill residents John and Laura Roberts have been competing in barbecue contests around the northwest. In August they were one of about 30 teams that entered the second annual contest at the Oregon State Fair. Their beef brisket took Fifth Place, earning them a nice ribbon and a $300 cash prize. We’ll all be able to sample their amazingly tender and delicious meats this fall when they cater the Cedar Mill Cider Festival on October 19 at the JQA Young House!

Married for 37 years, the Roberts first got into competitive BBQ when they watched a contest at Chinook Winds resort. John had been making BBQ for years, but when they saw how much fun the teams were having, they looked at each other and said, “This is for us!”

John decided to study to become a judge for the contests held by the Pacific Northwest  BBQ Association, which follows the general guidelines of the Kansas City BBQ Association—the recognized authority in authentic BBQ. He wanted to understand the standards before he started cooking competitively.

Burnt Ends winning brisket
Brisket ready to turn in. Identical clamshell boxes have coded labels so judges can't tell who cooked what. The "burnt ends" of the brisket are a delicacy that gives our team its name.

After three years of judging, which can involve tasting and grading dozens of meats during a contest, John & Laura took to the circuit, competing in about five events a year.

The contest at the State Fair began on Saturday with the Special Categories of sausage, chicken wings and steak. While the teams were getting those items cooked, they were also preparing their Competition Meats entries of beef brisket, pork butt, pork ribs and chicken. These are the standard four meats that nearly every contest requires. The “low and slow” cooking process turns these normally tough cuts into tender and flavorful delicacies.

Teams slept at the fairgrounds in tents and vans as their meat slow-cooked overnight. Early on Sunday the pressure was on. Each meat had a separate “turn-in” time beginning at 11 am with the pork butt and ending at 2 with ribs. It can be tense during the time leading up to turn-in since all the teams must reach the judges’ tent with their entries no more than five minutes before or after turn-in or face disqualification.

Burnt Ends winning
Tired but happy "Burnt Ends" Laura & John Roberts with their sous chef Carol accept the fifth place ribbon for their brisket

After the final turn-in there was time to relax (except for the cleanup chores) while the judges tallied scores and the results were turned in to the State Fair office, which manages the prize money. Sponsors donated $21,000 dollars in prize money this year, with $5000 going to the overall champion team!

More information about the Northwest Barbecue Association is at pnwba.com. Plan to come to the Cider Festival for great barbecue, bluegrass music and of course, fresh apple cider to wash it down!




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Published monthly by Cedar Mill Advertising & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229