Staff Photo: John Bohn Glen and Melanie Musick, of Duluth, apply spices to their barbecue entry during the Swine and Dandy barbecue competition and fundraiser held at Rogers Bridge Park in Duluth Saturday. Their team are called 'Que the Musick.
DULUTH -- Glen and Melanie Musick of Suwanee didn't get much sleep Friday night. They were both awake taking care of pounds of fatty, moist meats.
"I got one hour of sleep. She maybe got three hours," Glen Musick said with a laugh. "We started the smokers around 9 p.m. The food was cooking all night."
Musick and his wife didn't just stay up for kicks and giggles. The two were competing at the second annual Swine and Dandy Charity Cookoff in Rogers Bridge Park.
The Suwanee couple -- team name 'Que the Musick -- participated in last year's competition and placed ninth overall. This year, they changed their strategy and recipes in the hopes of taking home the title and prize money.
"We probably changed everything. The thing we probably did the same was the pulled pork. We did the chicken different, brisket different and someone else on the team cooked the ribs," Glen Musick said. "There is something about when the meat smokes slow for a long period of time, it really leaves the natural moisture and stuff, you don't cook out a lot of the inherit flavor from the meat you're cooking. The whole process of going low and slow."
He wasn't the only barbecue fanatic out on Saturday morning. The Musicks were camped out -- and competing -- with 40 other professional and backyard teams vying for an award.
Steven Hartsock of Socks' Love Rub Company in Duluth also worked overnight seasoning, smoking and slathering meat.
"In this competition we cooked four categories: chicken, ribs, pork shoulder and beef brisket," he said. "With the bigger cuts, an hour for every pound. Our beef brisket was about 14 pounds, so we cooked it about 15 hours. We started last night around 10 p.m. I stayed the night."
But what makes the best barbecue?
"Our special spice rub," Hartsock said.
Musick believed it was the cooking process.
"Time and temperature makes the perfect barbecue," said Trey Terry of Smokin' Suwanee Sweatmeats.
While Terry understands the importance of taste, he also made sure his meals looked appetizing to the eye.
"You get judged on three criteria," he said. "How it looks -- is it appealing? Does it look good? Then taste and tenderness, whether is was overdone or not cooked enough. But you have to eat with your eyes first. You need to make sure there is six pieces of meat in each box because there are six judges. If they like the looks of it, typically you have a good chance everything will fall in behind it, but there's a lot of times, it looks good but it wasn't quite there."
Terry uses curly leaf parsley as the "background of our food."
At the end of the day, these competitive cooks are out to have a good time. The awards are just a plus.
"It's a fun thing to do with the family," Terry said while sitting with his wife Meg. "It's kind of like our hobby, you can bring everybody, like a mini-vacation."
Musick couldn't agree more. He knows that barbecue is a messy pastime and not to be taken so seriously.
"Our friend has a slogan, 'It isn't barbecue until you wear it,'" he said.