Ribs, Rods & Rock â�?�?n Roll a roaring success By David Lias
Plain Talk Call it twist of fate, or simply the love of slowly barbecuing meat over in barely hot, smoke-filled grill. Thatâ�?�?s what inspired Kirk and Chris Wilson to make the move from barbecuing for fun at family functions at their Sergeant Bluff, IA home. â�?�?We started barbecuing about 10 years ago, just locally for friends, for the local high school and for different events,â�? Kirk said, â�?�?and friends of mine said, â�?�?Hey, you should start selling this stuffâ�?�?.â�? The inspiration that caused the Wilsons to create Kirkâ�?�?s BBQ catering service also brought them to Vermillion last weekend for Ribs, Rods & Rock â�?�?n Roll. â�?�?This spring, we started the business, and thatâ�?�?s how we got here,â�? Kirk said. Kirkâ�?�?s BBQ has hardly had time to become familiar outside of the Sergeant Bluff area. But Famous Daveâ�?�?s has become well known throughout the country, with 160 stores in 35 states. Darsha Tuenge, general manager of Famous Daveâ�?�?s in Sioux Falls, and her crew kept busy well into Saturday afternoon. â�?�?We believe in making every guest feel special and famous every time they walk through the door,â�? Darsha said. â�?�?We also slow cook our ribs â�?�? all of our barbecue is hickory smoked â�?�? so we think if you serve a quality product and you take good care of the guest, then people are going to return, and thatâ�?�?s the secret of our success.â�? As Darsha talked, people walked by, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Saturdayâ�?�?s celebration. Nearly 30 barbecue vendors were slow cooking meat in downtown Vermillion, creating an aroma that was hard to resist. All day long, musical acts performed in a tent nearby, and in the heart of downtown, on Main Street, the Show and Shine Car Show was in full swing. Approximately 80 classic cars, hot rods and pickups were on display, and vehicle owners simply got out their shammies after an intermittent shower threatened to ruin their vehiclesâ�?�? shine. Jack Sieben, main proprietor of Jackâ�?�?s Dakota Grill of Mission Hill, found himself in downtown Vermillion Saturday under many of the same circumstances as Kirk Wilson. Jack also started grilling mainly as a hobby. As his expertise grew, and the barbecued meats from his grill grew in demand, the hobby turned into a business. â�?�?I practice mainly a dry rub thatâ�?�?s kind of a sweet, spicy rub,â�? he said, â�?�?Some people like to use a mop and a wet sauce. With me, you can use the sauce on the side, but the ribs stand by themselves.â�? Jack said it typically takes him between four and five hours to properly prepare a batch of ribs on his grill. â�?�?It depends on the day â�?�? the cooler the day, the longer you cook them,â�? he said. â�?�?I use a combination of charcoal and wood. The wood is for flavor and the charcoal is for heat.â�? Jack and many of the other participants in the weekends events were competing in the Kansas City Barbecue Association contest judged by two professionals from that organization Saturday. â�?�?That means preparing brisket and pork and chicken as well as the ribs,â�? he said. All of the masters of barbecue also participated in a â�?�?peopleâ�?�?s choiceâ�? contest, in which visitors to Saturdayâ�?�?s event could sample barbecue prepared by each contestant and rate their work. People across the country have a growing desire to sit down to a good meal of barbecued meat, Jack said. â�?�?The popularity has increased immensely,â�? he said. â�?�?Each year, there seems to be a new contest springing up, and the old ones stick around. â�?�?People are getting away from the fast food, and they want to eat more wholesome foods again,â�? Jack said. â�?�?It takes times to cook more wholesome foods, but they donâ�?�?t mind.â�? Kirk brought some of his friends from Sergeant Bluff to help him in Vermillion Saturday. He was glad they came along â�?�? he needed the assistance. â�?�?Iâ�?�?ve been getting a lot of compliments on my chicken and my pulled pork,â�? he said. â�?�?Iâ�?�?ve also had a lot of feedback on my homemade sauce. Nothing is bought â�?�? itâ�?�?s all homemade.â�? Kirk fires up his grill with charcoal and apple wood, and occasionally cherry and plum woods. â�?�?And we use a dry rub before the meat goes on the grill,â�? he said. â�?�?We just slow cook at about 200 degrees.â�? Larry Hadley of Lenexa, KS has worked as barbecue judge for the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) for six years. He was busy all day Saturday, helping to judge the barbecued brisket, ribs, and chicken, and also to help determine an overall winner. â�?�?We have representatives that travel all over the country, coast to coast,â�? he said. The KCBS judges must become certified before they can judge contests. They are required to attend a judging school and receive training. KCBS judges go about their work at events like the one held in Vermillion by visiting each of the participants. â�?�?They will receive six portions of chicken, pork ribs, pork, pulled pork, pork shoulder and brisket,â�? Larry said. â�?�?They judge each item individually for taste, tenderness and appearance, and the accumulation of points per team is added up at the end of the contest to determine who the winners are.â�? Judges, like individuals, may not always agree on which of slow cooked, smoky meats is the best. â�?�?But good barbecue is good barbecue,â�? he said. Larry loves to travel to communities like Vermillion, and barbecue isnâ�?�?t his top priority. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s the people. You run into so many great people,â�? he said. â�?�?There are no better people in the world than those who love to fix and eat barbecue.â�? Vermillion isnâ�?�?t the only community to decide recently to hold a major event centered on barbecue. With the help of television programs on The Food Channel, Larry said, â�?�?the barbecue world has exploded. There are all sorts of new contests out there. To have a KCBS-sanctioned contest, you have to a minimum of 15 teams, and we had 28 here. Thatâ�?�?s great.â�?