The 4th Annual Up in Smoke Cook-off took place on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at Aloha Stadium, in the Salt Lake-bound parking lot. The event essentially encompassed a smoked meat competition, wild pig hunt weigh-in competition & car show competition subtitled the Nobody Cares Car Show.
Because this post involves so many photos and accompanying narrative, it has been split-up into multiple pages, with links to subsequent pages at the bottom of each page. Or you can jump directly to subpages by topic through quick-links here:
4th Annual Up in Smoke Cook-off coverage multi-page quick-links
• Page 1: Event introduction and booth visits part 1 (you’re currently on this page)
• Page 2: Booth visits part 2
• Page 3: Booth visits part 3
• Page 4: Meet the judges and view the food entries
• Page 5: Sit down with the Smoked Pork judging team and sample the entries
• Page 6: The results are in!
• Page 7: Wild Boar hunt weigh-in and “Iron Chef” cook-off
• Page 8: “Nobody Cares” Car Show and event wrap-up
What makes this year’s event different from years past for yours truly, is that this year I was selected and served as one of ten official judges for the cook-off by Linda Henriques, the president and organizer of the event. Therefore, in this coverage I’ll walk you through the experience from a food judge’s perspective.
Without further ado, let’s head on over to the contestants booths and see what stay get!…
I swear, I must have been Japanese in my past life. I do everything in reverse (particularly the way I read magazines and newspapers), where here we’re starting with booth 30, working our way back to booth 1. Go figure. lol
Oh, and yes, I’m still on my vegetarian-centric diet (currently 176 lbs, with 31 lbs. total lost, and just 16 lbs. away from my final target weight), however made an exception for this event. And believe me, on this day, I wen’ GEEV’ ‘EM (went all out)! lol
Moving right along to booth 29…
OK, it doesn’t take being a food judge to know that, appearance-wise, this looks much better than the previous entry. From that first pan of smoked pork to this one, you can already see how color and sheen (how shiny it is) are key factors in appearance, especially if the presentation is just MEAT. More on that shortly.
Moving along to booth 27, now not only does the pork have great color and sheen, but they’re bustin’ out da’ “secret sauce”, throwing in some originality and creativity there (no others used sauce in this way)…
Ooh, then booth 27 busts this out!!!
Holy SMOKES! Wow, that looks freekin’ ONO! Great color contrast, sheen and concept. I’m one who appreciates more than just meat-meat-meat, preferring some form of veggie or other opposing ingredient to compliment and balance it out. Ya’ know?
So let me take a moment now and explain how I view and taste each entry from a food judge’s perspective.
Namely, there are a list of personal criteria I look for that goes like this:
3.) Sheen (how dull to shiny is the “finish”)
1.) Seasoning (salty/sweet/spicy, etc.)
2.) Depth of, and overall flavor (penetration of marinade or rub)
3.) Moisture, Tenderness and Texture (in this case of the “bark”)
4.) Accompaniment/contrast (does the garnish or mixed ingredient(s) play well into the final texture and flavor?)
While the event’s voting ballot was much more abbreviated than this, I still took all those factors into consideration before deciding on where each entry stood from a grading scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent. More on that later.
With that, booth 27 pretty much hit all the marks on this one. Color, contrast, sheen, cut, creativity? Check, check, check, check and check, where I’d go 4 (very good) on each criteria. And how did it taste? Very good to excellent. 4 points. You could tell whoever prepared this is a seasoned cook or chef, knowing exactly where the seasoning and doneness should be, while also knowing how to balance the fusion of ingredients with proper cutting technique.
You wanna’ talk color, cut and sheen? Now this is what I’m talkin’ ’bout!…
OMG, now THAT’S how REAL “Paniolo” style smoked meat should look! Hooks ‘n all, baby! I just wanna’ lick the screen!
And who’s the genius behind this smoked meat madness? A Souza!…
No relations of course, as least not that I know of. The only Souzas I’m related to live on the Big Island and California.
And then just when you thought that was all from Souza-san, he busts out Smoked Palusami and Blue Crab Dip!…
Let me repeat that for you one more time. SMOKED. PALUSAMI. BLUE CRAB. DIP. Smoked Palusami Blue Crab Dip? GENIUS!!!!!!!!!! This takes creativity to a whole nother level! Check it out…
And how does Smoked Palusami Blue Crab Dip taste? Well, pretty much like how it sounds. Think of Spinach and Artichoke Dip with a squid luau twist. Or make that crab luau. Hey, Crab Luau? Now that sounds interesting too! All I can say is, whoever was there that had the opportunity to try this dip should be considered very fortunate, as this stuff was truly special.
Note, Booth 27 served the general public the Smoked Palusami Blue Crab Dip with Tostitos “Scoops” tortilla chips, which is fine. However for the judge’s samples, it was served with the much more exotic ($$) and crunchy TARO CHIPS! Very good economics move when you consider the judges vote counts for 75% of the final score.
Most smokers were using Kiawe, however a few had their own smoking wood “tricks”, using anything from guava, to lychee to peach wood. Here’s Kiawe (Mesquite) smokin’ away at Souza’s Smokehouse booth…
Moving along, please go to page 2 at the link below…