Mayhem in Middletown

Middletown Delaware, 5/17 – 5/18
We finished 4th here last year and seeing how it’s an auto draw to the Jack Daniels Invitational you know we’d come back (winning the free entry at the MABA annual meeting didn’t hurt), as did everyone else, so here we are all spiffy and ready to go.

The Whole Aporkalypse Now Crew
The Whole Aporkalypse Now Crew

Moss and crew run a flawless event so setting up and getting ready to cook were painless.

The view from the Ferris Wheel
The overview from the Ferris Wheel

We were in the same spot from last year close to all the amenities and the judge’s tent. How close were we? Well….

Nice being right next to the Judge's tent
Nice being right next to the Judge’s tent

Before we get to the meat of the matter I want to extend a special thank you and welcome to the newest full time Aporkalypser – My wife Hillary. She’s tolerated these events for the past couple of years but has now decided to jump in with both feet and I’m looking forward to her contribution.

Hillary cranking out turn in boxes
Hillary cranking out turn in boxes

In an effort to boost our chicken score I decided to slightly alter our tried and true sauce recipe.  Sooner or later I’ll learn the “if it ain’t broke” rule. We came out with a score of 161.1428 and 14th place, not the best start.

We thought the ribs were pretty much spot on this week. I ran into some issues with curved bones so we ended up with what I thought wasn’t the best looking box. We ended up 9th with a score of 162.2856 for our first call of the day


Working the Ribs

Working the Ribs


Pork continues to be up and down this year and this event was the wrong week for the bottom of the sine curve. 19th placewith a score of  159.4286.

We haven’t had a brisket call all year and this time was no exception –  16th place with a score of 157.1430.

Our efforts rewarded us with our third top 10 finish in as many weeks with a 10th place overall and a score of 640.0000, 25 points off the pace against a tough field.

We seem to be sitting on the cusp of high finishes but just can’t quite get over the edge for some reason this year. We were all looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend off  then on to the Beltway BBQ Showdown in Ft. Washington, MD.



Fredricksburg Follies

BBQ Jamboree in Fredricksburg, VA 5/10 – 5/11
Another first time at the event for us. I won free entries to this event twice, once in Kansas City and at the MABA meeting so I figured it was karma. Karma can be a cruel date. This was the first event for the “Deathstar” as it was deemed; our new 10×20 and 10×10 black Ez-Up setup


It’s so nice now working under a full width 10×20 and a 10×10 canopy. No more center seams to deal with.  Only down side; with all the sides on it’s really dark on the inside. Clearly some additional lighting is needed.

After pulling in and getting set up we had to deal with the local health department over the people’s choice category which was to be served onsite. Even though the health department can be overzealous at times I really enjoy doing and serving people’s choice food out of our site as it give us the opportunity to interact with the public and talk about us and our food. We as teams need to remember that part of what the public pays admission for at these events is the chance to see the BBQ teams that they see on TV or read about online. Teams need to step up a bit and help the organizers by being BBQ ambassadors not only for our selves, but to help these events continue. On to the competition.

After our 15th place finish in Naptown I wanted to take a little more time and make sure that the chicken was cut and prepped with the precision that I thought got away from us in Naptown. This extra effort was rewarded by our score dropping one point to 165.1426. Even with this drop our chicken came in 10th and we were rewarded with our first call of the day.

Our ribs had been doing pretty well but for some reason that wasn’t the case this week. In the cold light of day our ribs were probably a little overcooked. We ended up 16th with a score of 159.4286.

Still nervous from Salisbury but with a good call at Naptown we left the pork alone and were rewarded with a 7th place call and a score of  162.2858.

Once again our hopes for a big finish were dependent on a big brisket call. Due to a shipping snafu our our competition Creekstones had still not arrived so I elected to cook a CAB brisket that I’d had kicking around in the freezer since October. We changed a few things up for this event and we clearly moved in the wrong direction. 24th place with a score of 153.7142.

Our efforts rewarded us with our second top 10 finish in as many weeks with a 9th place overall and a score of 640.5712, 20 points off the pace against a tough field. But wait, what happened with people’s choice?

People’s Choice
We had 4 butts ready to go for the people’s choice . A big thanks to Bill Petersen and Ed Clark who stopped down and pitched in to help serve the incredibly long line we developed.  We had two lines running and ended up serving out 50 lbs of pork in just under 45 minutes. It all happened so fast we didn’t even punch vote cards for the first 20 minutes. When we ran out of pork we still had a line over 100 yards long!

Anyway the bottom line was that we missed winning people’s choice by less than 15 votes coming in third.  At awards we discovered that the people’s choice wasn’t the usual $100 or $200 prize but $1,000!!! That’ll teach me to read the competitor’s package. Be warned for next year. We have the Beast and for $1,000 we’ll fill one side with pork butts.

Our three week marathon continued the next week at Middletown DE.



Knocked around in Naptown

This was our first time at the Naptown Bar-B-Que and it’s a nice family friendly event held at the Ann Arundle  County Fairgrounds just outside of Annapolis. Work held me up a bit so the trailer didn’t roll in until after 4pm on Friday making us scramble a bit from the start. Even though it was May it was quite chilly overnight into Saturday morning.


Chilly Don at Naptown

After Salisbury we made a couple of small tweaks to the chicken but the results were almost the same; a score of 166.2856 which was only good for 15th place

Colleen Liked it!

Colleen Liked it!

We were pretty happy with our ribs in Salisbury so in the best definition of insanity we changed nothing and hoped for different results. We were rewarded with a score of 163.4286 and an 8th place walk.

8th Place Ribs

8th Place Ribs

We had nowhere to go but up after our 98th place pork in Salisbury. We won pork in Young Harris so we elected to view Salisbury as an anomaly and keep thing where they were. This turned out to be the right move as we scored a 164.5716 and our second walk with an 8th place award.

8th Place Pork

8th Place Pork

At this point we were hoping for a big brisket call to push us into the top 5 but alas, it was not to be. The judges clearly scoffed at our beefy effort with a score of 159.4282 good only for 21st place.

We ended up 9th overall out of 55 teams. Respectable, but clearly some things need to be adjusted.

The Next Day
If all this wasn’t enough we teamed up with Kit Rudd from Deguello BBQ to cook the judging class for 95 students. I was waxing a little nostalgic about missing the Big Apple BBQ this year but cooking for the judging class quickly cured me of that. Many thanks to my wife Hillary and the Nuse’s for helping out since we had every rack in The Beast full.

Next up up; Fredricksburg VA





Slaughtered in Salisbury (almost drowned too)

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug” – Mark Knopfler

Before we get to the gruesome bits I’d like to thank and welcome our sponsors for 2013:

Wusthof Trident of North America and Creekstone Farms. They have been very generous with us in pursuing the BBQ trail and I thank them.


What can I say: It rained, the wind howled and blew and it was COLD. It was all we could do to keep the shelters up and ourselves warm but we managed. Overall we thought we had a pretty good cook. Many thanks to new Aporkalypse Now Team member Don Wooten and the reliable Todd Sessa who traveled all the way from Long Island.

Our chicken continued to perform well for us as we gathered a 9th overall for our one and only call.
9th_Chicken_Salisbury_2013We all decided that the ribs were some of the better ribs we’ve turned in. Most of the judges agreed except for 2; one who gave us a 7 in taste and the other who gave us a 9-4-4! No comment card was provided so we have no idea what this judge found objectionable.

After finishing 1st in pork in Youngharris, GA.
1st_pork_Young_harris_2013I thought the pork was pretty well dialed in. A lot of the pork boxing issues  from last year had been resolved and I was looking forward to a continued strong score from that category. Not  today. The judges clearly found it lacking and told us so in no uncertain terms – 98th place. Again no comment cards so we’ll proceed as normal this week in Annapolis and hope that this anomaly doesn’t become a trend.
We had a monster (non-Creekstone) brisket that looked good yet when we cut the finished product was strangely lacking in flavor and had a bit of an odd texture.  The judges wavered around a bit and we ended up 29th in a very close field. Now that our Creekstones have arrived I’m looking forward to having the best beef to start with.

Thanks to our 98th place pork we ended up a middle of the pack 43rd overall. Not the best beginning to 2013 in the Mid Atlantic but there’s nothing to do but push on to the next event in Annapolis MD. Hope to see some of you there!


2012 results

I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t kept this up. I’ll try to do better in 2013. 2012 was Aprokalypse Now’s 2nd full year of competition BBQ and the Kansas City BBQ Society results are out. We finished a respectable  77th out of 6303 teams overall in 2012. Not bad for our second full year competing.

Aporkalypse Now KCBS ToY 2012
Overall – 77th
Chicken – 34th
Ribs – 128th
Pork – 66th
Brisket – 113th

A huge thank you has to go out to the Aporkalypse Now team as well as our sponsor from last year – Wusthof.

2013 is already underway and there are some changes coming in the next couple of months. Stay tuned for our full2013 schedule as well as other announcements.


Headin out to Edenton yeahhhhh, brother

Headin out to Edenton yeahhhhh, brother
We decided to triple up this year and cook the double contest in Edenton, NC the week after Salisbury. After a strong start we were looking for a little redemption and were curious how our food would fair in the South.

Dale and I headed out to Edenton (yeah,,, brother) on Thursday as to not miss the Seafood dinner put on by the organizer and to get a little jump on prep for the 1st event.  This is a very nice contest in a picturesque town right on the water. We setup, went to dinner and headed off to our accommodation for the night.

Friday came, and the contest was under way. We prepped and headed out in search of dinner and some rest before the early morning call. We found a great little local place – the Waterman’s grill; Great food and atmosphere, in fact so good we went back Saturday night. Don’t miss this if you’re in Edenton.

Hogfest I
Saturday came and we had a pretty good cook. We still weren’t real happy with the ribs, and the chicken was a little on the large side.

The meats

We were coming off 5 top three calls in the last 5 events so we though the chicken was spot on.  The judges disagreed as we ended up 11th with a 163.4284. It’s interesting how very small changes yield big swings in scores.

After our disappointing finish in Salisbury I went back to my original flavor profile. We cooked and once again we were disappointed with the overall texture and coloration of the ribs.  A score of a 158.8568 resulted in 15th place.

Pork was our only bright spot and our only call – 7th place with a score of 161.7142.

After difficulty procuring briskets in March  we secured a large supply of decent sized briskets in time for this trip. We had a good brisket cook but it fell a little short at the judge’s table as we only managed a 162.8570 which came in at 11th.

Anyway after all was said and done we finished with a combined score of 646.8564 with was good enough for 8th place out of  33 teams, our worst showing since July of last year.

Hogfest II
On to Sunday after a furious prep Saturday after awards. The rain abated and it looked like Sunday was going to be a better day. Since we were back to back in the same location with a number of judges sure to return for day 2 I was determined to make some adjustments .

The meats

I went with a different box arrangement and some seasoning changes for chicken looking for improvement but when we tasted it our faces fell. It was terrible. So terrible Dale threw the rest of it out while I walked the box. At this point we knew we were just cooking for categories but this is why the judges eat the food. We were stunned with a score of 172.0000 and a 2nd place chicken award.

This time I went completely off the rails deciding to use a technique that I had thought about but never actually tried. The ribs came out picture perfect but we were still disappointed with the texture. I decided then that we would be switching rib brands after this event. All in all it was an improvement resulting in a 4th place call with a score of 166.8568

We did a rub change to the pork and basically turned in the same box as Saturday. The results were a slip to 12th pork with a 160.5714

We did’nt change our brisket cook at all and finished close to the same spot with a 162.8572 resulting in an 8th place call.

With all the changes we only moved up one spot overall to 7th with a combined score of 662.2854. While our overall placement only changed a little. we were only 12 points off the leader pace on Sunday vs the 30 we were off on Saturday.

After finding another jewel of a restaurant right under the Rt 17 overpass we heading back home on Monday, tired but wiser.



Porked in the Park

A new season, a new team member, new shirts, some new tweeks and some interesting results at Pork in the Park in Salisbury MD this past weekend.

First let me welcome Dale Lucas formerly of Pigs in Blankets as the newest member of the Aporkalypse Now crew. Dale has cooked with us on several occasions in the past and I look forward to his presence on the team this year.

2012 got off to an interesting start with the Friday festivities. We were planning on entering the Anything But category but I discovered that the butcher has miss-cut our short ribs on the bias so instead of 12 nice big ribs we had 12 little medallions. We decided to cook them anyway and if we got 6 good looking ones we’d turn them in, if not we’d have dinner: We had a really nice dinner.

The 4 meat event brought few changes from last year since we didn’t want to disturb the hot hand we ended 2011 on. One change I did make was to try and even out the rib sauce as it had exhibited some extreme heat on occasions – more about that later.

Saturday came and we had a good cook. We hit all the marks and were generally happy with everything. Not ecstatic with anything but not unhappy with anything either.

The meats

Chicken was very good to us in 2011 finishing in the top three 7 out of 10 events and it didn’t disappoint us here. We scored 169.1428 points out of 180 possible which was good enough for 3rd place.

After a strong start in 2011 with a winning rib entry at this event our ribs were a little on the inconsistent side, in fact our 6th place finish in ribs cost us the Grand Championship at Raystown. This year I decided to tone the intense flavor down just a bit by using a more middle of the road sauce. I made it, I field tested it and went with it. The Pork in the Park Judges HATED it, well, hate is a strong word but in an efforts to make our ribs more middle of the road I may have taken the exceptional right out of them as we received average marks in taste and ended up with a score of 145.7138 for 81st place. It’s back to what was a consistent top 10 flavor profile in ribs for us – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Our pork entry followed our 2011 methodology despite a couple of hiccups and we were rewarded with a 168.5714, good enough for another 3rd place trophy.

Brisket is going to be a challenge this year as it’s apparent that good competition briskets are going to be hard to come by.  Despite that we earned a 161.1428 score and 13th place. I know we left points on the table  and we’ll correct that post haste.

First a small rant. I hate the new trend of organizers announcing all the results of a category except 1st place then holding the first place awards until the end. They think its suspenseful but in my opinion it’s just mean to the cooks.

Anyway after all was said and done we finished with a combined score of 644.5708 with was good enough for 4th place out of  113 teams.

This week it’s off to Edenton North Carolina for 2 full contests in one weekend (Friday / Saturday and Saturday/Sunday) we haven’t done that since the Royal and there will only be two of us so it’s going to be a marathon of will. After that, 3 weeks off (We’re skipping Naptown) and then off to Middletown Deleware.

Stop by and see us if you’re going to be in the area.






The Aporkalypse Now 2012 Competition Schedule is Here

After spending the weekend looking at events in the region I’ve finally narrowed it down to a (semi) workable competition schedule.  A few may come and go, but for now this looks to be our route to 7 wins this year. As competitions and other events are confirmed they will be loaded to the calendar page.  Hope to see a few of our readers on the BBQ trail in 2012.

Competitions for 2012


20-21 Pork in the Park Salisbury, MD

27-29 Hog Fest in Historic Edenton I & II Edenton, NC


04-05 Naptown barBAYq Annapolis, MD

18-19 Middletown BBQ Cook-Off Middletown, DE


01-02 Beltway BBQ Showdown Upper Marlboro, MD (tentative)

15-16 Central MD Swinetastic BBQ Festival Frederick, MD

29-30 Covington Cork and Pork Festival Covington, VA (tentative)


27-28 Bluemont BBQ Bash & Blackberry Bonanza Bluemont, VA


10-11 MD State BBQ Bash Bel Air , MD (tentative)

17-19 Mountain Maryland Barbeque Cumberland, MD


07-08 Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour Laurel, MD

14-15 Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour (Regional) Chesapeake, VA (hopefully!)


05-06 Keystone Classic Barbeque Harrisburg, PA

12-13 Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour National Championship Bentonville, AR (with luck!)

26-27 Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue Lynchburg, TN (hopefully!)


The year in review

Where to begin? 2011 started slow but somehow I ended up cooking the last 14 weekends either as Aporkalypse Now or with friends. Some of the highlights:

  • Winning the Bel-Air competition as part of Jack’s Old South
  • Following up  with a 3rd place finish as the lead cook for Back Porch BBQ at The New Holland Summerfest
  • Winning Smokin on the Bay in Deale MD, again as part of Jack’s Old South
  • Teaming up with sometimes Aporkalypse Now teammate Dale to take the Grand at Shrewsburry, PA
  • Getting 4 calls at Raystown PA to take Reserve Grand Champion
  • Going to the Royal as part of Jack’s Old South
  • Winning the Grand Championship at Harrisburg, PA
  • Going to the Jack Daniels Invitational as part of Jack’s Old South

It’s been an interesting 1st full year as a BBQ team, many lessons have been learned as well as mental plans made for 2012.

Wusthof has the brisket slicer in full production (watch this space to order) and first customer ship is estimated around the 10th of December. Two other knives have been developed and we’ll be bringing up the online store shortly to facilitate acquiring these plus some other items I’ve found useful on the BBQ trail (not to mention Aporkalypse Now wearables !)




It’s Slicing time!

After 5 months of back and forth development, the prototype of the long slicer I envisioned and designed is here thanks to my friends at Wusthof Cutlery

The new slicer prototype

The knife is a 34cm (14inch) long thin bladed slider 54mm deep at the heel with a radiused cutting edge hollow ground to reduce drag.  The advantage to the radius is that the whole blade edge isn’t engaging the object to be sliced at the same time allowing for even less drag, yet still making a continuous cut with no “saw marking”.

The other plus to the radius design on the blade is that when you make a draw cut (pull the blade toward you) the physiology of  your arm causes your elbow to lift up, causing you to change the angle of attack of the blade. On a straight traditional slicer you either end up cutting with the very tip of the blade or break your wrist to allow the blade to remain flat, reducing your leverage. The radius blade allows you to maintain maximum leverage by not having to break your wrist while the cutting edge still tracks parallel to the food.

Enough with the techno babble — how does it cut?
Like a dream. I had a chance to try it on a few competition briskets and pork butts the other weekend at Que and Cruz and it exceeded all my expectations. It cut hot brisket slices cleanly on one draw without tearing the slice. I was able to separate and slice pork “money muscle” with no stringing.  We even went so far as to cut some already sliced brisket slices in half on the bias cleanly.

The slicer in action

All in all I think it’s a winner. It’s hard enough to hold an aggressive edge yet retains some flexibility in the blade. It’s considerably lighter and thinner than my 14 inch scimitar so it’s less fatiguing if you’re cutting a lot of briskets to boot.

I’ll be talking to the factory about a few final minor tweeks  soon but as of this point I don’t have a price point or release date. I’ll post them as soon as I have them.