What do you get if you combine 50 competition BBQ teams, 10,000 BBQ lovers, top beers, some great Sydney weather and a variety of great live music acts? A truly awesome event for meatlovers. Meatstock Sydney went off!
Following our success at Crafted Live Wollongong as the Reserve Grand Champion team, we entered Meatstock Sydney feeling more than a little pressure. Meatstock attracts the best BBQ teams from NSW, with quite a large number of quality teams also travelling from interstate to compete. Without doubt, this was the highest quality field we have competed against to date.
The Meatstock festival was a two day event, starting for us at 6am on Saturday morning as we bumped in to the Sydney Showgrounds. With the team briefing at 9.30am and the cooking window opening at 11am timing was always going to be tight. Our campsite typically takes a good 2-3 hours to set up and we had the job finished with just enough time for a quick look around before the fun started.
The cooking window didn’t open until 11am on Saturday, which coincided with the opening of the festival to the general public. Whilst pre-trimming of meats is allowed, seasoning prior to the cooking window is strictly forbidden, so it was a very busy half hour or so as we prepared our Saturday turn ins of Chef’s Choice, Chicken and Ribs. Apologies to anyone who came past at that time and found us to be a little pre-occupied!
For Chef’s Choice, which we turned in at 3pm, we chose to share our lunch and dinner with the judges! Chef’s choice is a stand-alone category that doesn’t count towards the overall point score, so we prefer to cook something that we like to eat. In this instance it was a rolled pork loin that we cooked in the Weber kettle. The crackling was perfect and we’d cooked a tray of potatoes to go with it, so lunch and dinner was roast pork and roast potato rolls.
Given that we came fourth in chicken at Wollongong, we decided not to change anything in our recipe, in an attempt to replicate the success. Our chicken box was turned in at 3.45pm and whist it tasted good to me, I didn’t feel it was quite as good as we have done in the past. However, in terms of appearance, we were very happy with our efforts.
Sadly, the final turn in for the day, pork ribs, was a bit of a disaster. Somehow, I mucked up the timing of the cook and despite our best efforts, the ribs were under done. Given we won first place for these at Wollongong, it was a pretty disappointing effort. That said, we are well aware what went wrong and are confident it won’t happen again.
With Saturday’s cooks out of the way, we started to focus on our Sunday turn ins of Pork, Lamb and Beef. These three cuts take at least 9 hours to cook, so Jon loaded up our three Smokey Mountains with Heat Beads Coconut Briquettes in readiness for some long cook times. Whilst that was going on, I trimmed up and seasoned the brisket and lamb shoulder. Jon then went to work on the pork shoulder, taking a huge amount of care trimming and seasoning whilst Adam and I shared a few beers with our neighbouring teams.
The brisket turn in time of 2pm on Sunday guaranteed a pretty brutal evening, with the final cuts hitting the grill at about 2.30am on Sunday morning. We caught a few hours sleep before being back at it just before 6 on Sunday.
We turned in our pork box at 11.30am and were very happy with it’s taste and texture. Pork has caused us some difficulties over the last few competitions, so it was nice to have the cook go relatively smoothly.
Lamb was next up at 12.15pm and was a real unknown for us. Traditionally, we have served lamb cutlets, which if I’m honest, I have enjoyed eating, but the judges haven’t. For Meatstock, we were restricted to cooking shanks, ribs or shoulder, which was way out of our comfort zone, so we had been practising lamb cooks pretty regularly over the 4 weeks leading up. When we finally created our turn in box, we were very happy with our efforts and we all agreed it was the best we’d done by far, so no matter the results, we were pleased.
Our final turn in of the comp was Beef and as always, we chose to cook brisket. Our brisket for this comp threw us a few curve balls, the least of which being that it cooked in just under seven hours. This meant our timing was way off and it became a bit of a battle keeping everything fresh and warm for judging at 2pm. Having said all of that, I was pretty happy with our turn in box, and although I know we’d done better in the past, it was still a pretty solid effort.
The results of the competition were announced at 5.30pm on Sunday evening and we were very pleased with our results. Although we liked our chef’s choice dinner, the judges didn’t, scoring us in 42nd place. Thankfully that doesn’t count towards overall results. Once again, we scored well in Chicken, coming 7th overall. We already knew, our Ribs were not up to scratch, getting what they deserved in 38th place. Our Pork score placed us in 30th, which was a little lower than expected, however that gives us something to work on before next comp. Our Beef came a very respectable 11th overall, which I am particularly pleased with given the difficulties we had with it on the day.
However, it was our Lamb that was the absolute standout on the day, taking out first place by a very considerable margin. We were ecstatic about this, as a hell of a lot of hard work and flavour research went into this and it was a real team effort. Clio was pretty impressed to meet Moe Cason on stage too, as he was presenting the awards!
Overall, Doctor Cue came 7th out of the 50 teams who entered Meatstock. Given we went in to the event hoping for a top twenty finish, we couldn’t be more pleased. Our three highest scores of Beef, Chicken and Lamb gained us 969 points towards the leaderboard of the Australian Barbecue Championships. Congratulations to The Smoking Jokers who were Grand Champions on the Day and to Rolling Smoke who was Reserve Grand Champion. Both teams are exceptionally good at what they do and were most deserving of their wins.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to our marvellous sponsors, Heat Beads and Campbells Superior Meats of West Pymble. The Heat Beads Coconut Briquettes and Lump Charcoal kept us running perfectly all weekend, allowing us to focus on our cooking techniques without needing to worry about the barbecues. Once again, Rhett Campbell of Campbell’s Superior Meats of West Pymble, smashed it out of the park, supplying us with simply outstanding meats to compete with. Without your ongoing support we couldn’t achieve the results we have so far and we cannot thank you all enough!
Complete BBQ tragic and committed collector of BBQs, particularly Webers. Even known to talk BBQ recipes in his sleep, AJ’s years of cooking triumphs and failures have left him completely convinced that BBQ is overthought.