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1st Annual Smoked Meat Competition a Big Hit

The Father’s Day Up in Smoke Cook-Off 1st Annual Smoked Meat Competition took place this past Sunday, June 21, 2009 from 10am to 5pm at Heeia State Park in Kaneohe, on the windward side of Oahu.


Heeia State Park is located just before Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor if you’re heading towards Kahalu’u coming from Kaneohe town.

It was immediately apparent when I turned in that the word was out about this event, as was evident by the full-to-capacity parking lot…

Where’s there’s smokin’ meat, there must be smokin’ hot rods…

When I first heard about it, I considered entering as a contestant, but decided to remain a spectator for this inaugural event so I could get a look at what I’d be up against should I enter next year. As it turned out, competition was FIERCE, with over 30 teams from all over the Hawaiian islands showing up for the win…

It was held in the main hall at the Heeia State Park facility up at the very top of the hill. Here you can see just a portion of the substantial crowd that showed up for the event…

The competing teams were stationed along several rows of tables lined up parallel to each other throughout the hall’s main area…

Each team handed out FREE! samples of their wares, hoping their smoked meat entries would win the “People’s Choice” vote that was open to the general public in attendance.

Where there’s good grinds, there’s gotta’ be good Hawaiian music, and that was provided by the “Smoked Brisket Band” (or some kind of name they made up to that effect) on stage…

Everyone had a chance to win something at the event, including the public, who were called up for raffle ticket door prizes…

That gentleman in the brown t-shirt and bandana is Reno Henriques, the owner of Fresh Catch 808 and organizer/founder of this event.

Now that you’ve got a look and feel of the place, it’s time to leave your vegetarian inhibitions behind, put your T-Rex hat on and let’s go sample some smoke meat!

Note, there were five categories each team could enter: pork (the most popular of course), beef, chicken, fish and “anything goes”, which as advertised, could be anything from insects to tofu to peanut butter ‘n jelly sandwiches. lol IIRC, most of the entries were pork, yet if I recognize those dishes that were otherwise, I’ll make a note of it.

We’ll move along in numerical order from table to table in the order that the contestants were ID’d and organized…

After looking at my photos, it’s apparent I inadvertently missed a few entries, so if any of them may have been you, my apologies. Evidently not having photos of entrant #4, we move on to #5…

My peeps!…

At this point, I must say it’s quite fascinating seeing the various ways each contestant plates, garnishes and/or accompanies their dishes. Smoked meat with Edamame, ay? Works for me!

Notice onions are the the most popular ingredient incorporated with the smoked meat samples. It’s my favorite smoke meat sidekick, so I’m good with that.

Contestant #16…

One of these (shown above or below) were smoked pork and one was smoked beef, yet I can’t remember which was which.

I might also add that some of the dishes shown may not belong to the team indicated by the sign preceeding it, although I did my best to match them according to the sequence the photos were taken. If you were a contestant and notice any mis-ID’d dishes, eMail me and I’ll be happy to correct it.

This was some KILLER smoked marlin…

and THIS WAS SOME KILLAH smoked Tako!..

Smoked regular and Charsiu-marinated SPAM!…

Smoked Pork Hash!…

Smoked Pork Hash ‘n SPAM Musubi? Now that’s certainly unique!…

Pecan Smoked Pork…

Smoked Crab Dip…

Lightly-smoked Home-made Portuguese Sausage…

Smoked Pork…

Smoked Marlin…

Smoked Chicken…

After seeing the creativity and variations displayed so far, it’s not surprising we’ve finally come upon smoke pork with pineapple salsa…

Either that’s Smoked Pork Lumpia or Spring Rolls, but whichever the case, sounds (and looks) like it would work…

Smoked Marlin Spread…

Team #32…

Chicken…

Wooohaaaaa!…

Smoked Pork with Warabi (Fiddlehead Fern)…

That is no question the most smoked meat done in more ways than I ever imagined that I’ve ever seen in my life! Truly head-spinning, not to mention very tantalizing!

Oh, there’s one more very unique offering which I can’t remember which team he represented, but this guy was serving Smoked Rattlesnake!…

He said he bought it from a purveyor out of California.


Smoked Rattlesnake

While I’m not quite as adventurous as Andrew Zimmern, I had no problem giving this a try. What did it taste like? Kind of like this weird gamey combination of pork, chicken and fish all coiled into one would be the best way to describe it. The guy who made it admitted it was the first time he tried smoking snake (making the general public his Guinea Pigs lol), and with that I must admit it was quite dry. It was also VERY boney with the spine taking up a good part of it. Not bad though. It has potential.

Getting back to pork, a couple of folks had burners on site so they could fry-up fresh batches throughout the course of the day…

Gotta’ love that onolicious smell of smoked meat fryin’ up as it goes wafting out throughout the room.

Gotta’ hand it to these folks for the “Best Effort of Display Props” award…

Supporting the Japanese theme, their smoked pork dipped in a secret Teriyaki style sauce was killahz!…

So who’s smoked meat is DA’ BEST? To find that out, the entries from each team were packed and labeled in their respective category in bento boxes and sent to the judging table…

One of the judges was KHON2’s Manolo Morales…

Just as I suspected, when I asked him what it was like to judge smoked meat, he said after this, he wasn’t gonna’ eat smoked meat for the rest of the year. lol Kidding of course, but I can certainly attest to that sentiment. After trying over 10 different teams’ samples, including the various offerings each one had, I myself was already at the point where I couldn’t palate anymore. Not only was I getting full, but the smoke flavor can become overpowering, especially when you don’t have a palate buffer such as poi. Come to find out, they had poi for sale there at the Fresh Catch 808 food stand, which I discovered after the fact. Oh well. Had plenty braddahz outside suckin’ ’em up (drinking beer), which of course goes hand-in-hand with smoked meat.

As for tasting the samples, there were so many delicious variations in flavorings, yet a majority of the pork entries pretty much stayed within the shoyu-based marinade theme. I remember Team 27 stood out as one of my favorites in the pork category. Super moist in a delicious, yet simple sauce. The smoked marlin and smoked tako from Team 20 was also a stand-out favorite. Also that teriyaki style smoked pork from the folks with the Japanese props.

I didn’t get to try every single teams offerings as I already became full and basically overwhelmed of the smoke taste after going around and sampling about 12 different teams’ stuff. If you notice, some of them were giving out sumo-sized samples that could make up an entree-sized portion if you were to add rice and mac salad. I kid you not! They were all ono in their own unique way and all seemed to have a shot for the gold.

Hopefully the judges knew what they were trying to discern between each one, as some may be very close in flavor and/or texture, yet may have been made an entirely different way. There’s so many variables including type of smoker, temperature, duration and the various smoking woods, whether that be Kiawe (Mesquite), Hickory (not as popular in the islands), Guava, or in one contestants case I spoke with, Mango. Variables aside, it’s easy to know just by taste what’s good to what’s “Broke da’ Mout, whinnahz”, and I’m sure they’ve found those somewhere in the crowd here.

Now that I know what’s out there, should I enter next year’s competition, I’ve already got my “secret weapon” ready!

As for who won what and in what place and category, sorry to report that I had to leave before they called out the winners due to another engagement to go to, but I’ll get that information from Reno and edit it in here later.

Judging by the large number of competitors showing off their genuine enthusiasm in the art of smoked meat, as well as the huge crowd that turned out for the event, it looks like this 1st Annual Smoked Competition was a big success. Surely next year will be even bigger.


Pomai’s pick smoked pork category: Team 27


Team 20’s Smoked Tako

16 thoughts on “1st Annual Smoked Meat Competition a Big Hit

  • June 25, 2009 at 5:53 pm
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    Just looking at the pictures is getting me hungry. Good job covering this event Pomai!!!

    Reply
  • June 25, 2009 at 8:51 pm
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    wow! everything looks so good, I would hate to have been a judge!

    Reply
  • June 26, 2009 at 8:50 am
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    Rather eat than just watch. That the best part of it all. Any special side dishes made? I some time use bar b q sauce mix in potato salad like in Texas.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2009 at 10:02 am
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    That smoked tako looked/sounds good.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2009 at 10:33 am
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    Wow. Heaven on earth. Pomai, you have a good life! Even if they did have to wheel you away on a hand truck….. burrrrppp ;o)

    Reply
  • June 26, 2009 at 1:40 pm
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    I always look at the photos first, then read. I’m doing the Homer Simpson drool right now.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2009 at 2:18 pm
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    Pomai, try your kalua pork recipe and made musubis with some cooked luau leaves and pork in it and friends like very much.

    Reply
  • June 27, 2009 at 12:55 am
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    ooooohhhh I’m so jealous! YUM! I totally wanted to go, but I forgot!!! I would hate to be a judge, everyone would win my votes! hee hee….

    Reply
  • June 27, 2009 at 2:54 pm
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    Cree, judging 36 contestants with some entering 3 or more categories of entries each, that indeed is quite a challenge. Not only in discriminating taste, but in stomach capacity.

    Michael, I’m still not quite clear how exactly you prepared and served that, but glad to hear it turned out favorable.

    John Book, for maximum effect, try frying some bacon up while looking at the pictures.

    Marcus, indeed. As long as the food’s great, life is great.

    Debbie-chan, yup, the smoked tako was up there as one of my top picks of the day. His version was better than the smoked tako you typically find in the stores that are usually dried. The one here was tender and soft. Not chewy at all. It tasted like it was just seasoned with Hawaiian Salt and smoked with Kiawe. Very simple, yet perfect execution.

    Kelike, nothing unusual for side dishes. One booth offered plain and nori musubi along with their smoked meats. Some also offered cut fruits. But nobody offered POI. Damned it!

    Nate, when I was in grade school, Pomai was a very unusual Hawaiian name. I was the only one in my school with it. Now there’s so many younger folks with the name. Actually more girls.

    Kat, Manolo was quite overwhelmed. I notice he didn’t have any bottled water on hand, so I’m wondering if that might have affected his ability to discern one contestant’s entry from the other. After several samples of smoked meat from different contestants, I myself felt my palate became muddled.

    Yoro, arigato.

    Reply
  • July 8, 2009 at 11:42 am
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    Holy smoke! (pun intended)

    Man that was a LOT of smoked meat. I think after 10 bites I’d have smoke comin’ out of my pores.

    That smoked marlin looked soooo good.

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  • October 8, 2009 at 10:08 pm
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    Tasty Island Fans.. Pomai makes a Killa smoke meat!!!

    Reply
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