Chelsea Madren aka OC Food Diva: Johnsonville's The Sausage Dome Champion, World Food Championships E.A.T. Certified Food Judge, KCBS Certified BBQ Judge, Brand Ambassador, Culinary Researcher, Food & Travel Critic, Food Competitor, and Recipe Developer
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All About The Q at the Horse Town Brew N’ Que Festival in Norco, California
On Saturday, May 30, 2015, 75
BBQ teams already had their pits fired up for Horse Town Brew N’ Que Festival.
The pits and most of the prep had been done on Friday. At 6am on Saturday
morning, most of the teams already had their pork and briskets in the smoker.
The scent of smoked meats filled the air as you pulled up to George Ingalls
Equestrian Event Center in Norco, CA. Most of the teams were weary eyed from
tending to their smokers overnight.
All About The Q has been on the BBQ circuit for a couple years. Husband and wife team, Todd and
Beverly Carpenter, always loved BBQ. They started out as KCBS-certified judges
and began competing when their work schedules allowed. They do it for the art
and love of BBQ. Tending a fire and getting the right temperature is a skill to
master like an art from. There are so many variables like weather, humidity,
the type of wood used, etc. that can make or break the meat submission. Todd
built his own pit a few years ago to make the reception dinner for his son’s
wedding. He’s been competing with it along with a brand new REC TEC Mini Portable Wood Pellet Grill, who is one of his sponsors. Stubbs is also one of their sponsors. They use Stubbs’ products as a base and add
their own ingredients and spices to give their BBQ a unique flavor. They also
travel with their mascots, Bonnie and Clyde, who are service dogs and AKC
Agility competitors. They put on their performance face and were the most
obedient and quietest dogs you’ve ever met. They were in a pen in front of
their trailer and showed their cuteness to the public.
Around 9am, we took a stroll
to check out the other arena where the competing only teams were smoking away.
I had the pleasure of meeting Moe Cason (Moe Cason Barbeque and Ponderosa BBQ) and Myron Mixon (Jack’s Old South and the
most winningest man in BBQ), judges on Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters. On the show, they are serious judges, but in person, they are so nice and
personable. I was so honored to meet them. I didn’t want to take too much of
their time as they were competing as well. Overall, Moe ranked 49/75 (662.1600)
and Myron ranked 18/75 (685.7028).
Around 10 am, you could feel
the pressure as the teams started preparing their boxes. There is an art to
make a box. The bottom is layered with parsley, but it needs to look like a
putting green. Every team has their own way of doing it. It can’t be too high
or the tops of your meats will hit the top of the box, ruining a perfectly
sauced meat. Presentation is part of the scoring process. Beverly was in charge
of making the boxes for the All About The Q team. Todd was busy tending the
fire in his pit to keep temperature constant and also starting some of the
meats that were going to be sold to the public. There were about 8-10 teams
competing and selling so they had to be on their game.
At 11:45am, it was time to
put the finishing touches on the Chicken entry and box it up. The judges’ tent
was a 2-minute walk from All About The Q so everything had to be timed just
right. When Todd came back, a little relief came over his face. The
presentation box was a beauty with the sauce perfectly glazed on top. The
chicken was juicy and tender. The skin was perfect without being too fatty.
Smoke ring was apparent. The sauce had the perfect balance of sweet and savory
with a light spicy kick on the end. OCFD Rating: 5/5; KCBS Ranking: 42/75,
At 12:15pm, the pressure was
on again as the Pork Ribs needed to be sauced and boxed. The presentation was
another beauty with mahogany color and just the right amount of sauce. It had a
good smoky, savory flavor with a slight bit of heat. The meat had a bit more
tug than I would like, maybe a little longer on the smoker would do the trick.
OCFD Rating: 4.3/5; KCBS Ranking: 49/75, 164.5372
The Woodshed had a
few things to sell to the public. The teriyaki beef was tender, but the flavor
was too sweet to eat on its own. It would be better on sticky rice, served with
mac salad, or on top of a musubi. OCFD Rating: 3.8/5. Tri tip had a good flavor
to it, but it was a tough bite and minimal smoke ring. This definitely needed
to be served with a knife and fork. This would have been better chunked or
sliced really thin for sampling. OCFD Rating: 3.3/5; Overall KCBS Ranking:
At 12:45pm, it was time to
sauce and box the Pork. All About The Q presented the money muscle and some
pulled pork. The pork had a nice smoke ring and had just the right amount of
sauce. Too much can cover up the actual pork flavor. We tried it on top of
nachos. The pork was tender and juicy with a tasty bark on the outside. Great
way to spread the love atop some gooey cheese and tortilla chips. OCFD Rating:
5/5; KCBS Ranking: 74/75, 145.6568
CarryOutSupplies.com’s FreeHand Thumb Tray was the hit of the festival. It had a holder for your drink and room for your
edibles. It was perfect for this festival with the brews being poured and the ‘que
being served. This would also be handy for food truck festivals as well.
All About The Q served up
Pork Fingers to the public. It was a sausage link wrapped in bacon and glazed
with brown sugar. The brown sugar caramelized on the grill making the bacon
almost candy-like. The savory and sweet combination was finger lickin’ good!
OCFD Rating: 5/5
Mama n’ Dem served up roasted
corn on the cobb. It was juicy but a little water logged from holding in hot
water. It would have been better right off the grill. OCFD Rating: 2.8/5;
Overall KCBS Ranking: 63/75, 633.6800
At 1:15pm, it was time to
slice and box the brisket. The brisket was tender and had a nice smoke ring.
The bark was dark and tasty. It almost had a corned beef flavor to it. OCFD
Rating: 4/5; KCBS Ranking: 64/74, 154.8572
All About The Q’s Pulled
Chicken was phenomenal! It was tender, juicy and had a light Italian flavor
profile. It would be great on a Hawaiian roll with some creamy slaw on top.
OCFD Rating: 4.3/5
Pop-O-Licious ‘n More served up
Kettle Corn and Fruit Chillers. The Kettle Corn was a little light on the coating
but the kernels were big and fluffy. OCFD Rating: 3.5/5. Mango Fruit Chiller
was refreshing but very light on the mango flavor. The mango aroma was much
stronger. OCFD Rating: 3.5/5
It’s amazing how much goes into a BBQ competition.
All About The Q made us appreciate how much time and effort goes into making
tasty BBQ. Overall, All About The Q came in 64/75, 631.3140. The Horse Town
Brew N’ Que Festival brought an estimated 4,000 people from across the
To see more photos, please visit OC Food Diva's Facebook page.