I have a special place in my heart for women who aren’t afraid to get out there and grill. Taking a hobby such as grilling and venturing into competition grilling and barbecuing is even more adventurous and admirable! Cowboy Charcoal is putting the spotlight on these women and showcasing their grilling talent. This year marked the second annual Cowboy Charcoal Fire & Ice Women's Championship Barbecue Series held in November in Orange Beach, Alabama. I was recently able to interview the winner this year, Shannon Turner of Muttley Crew BBQ, but first, a bit about the competition.
Qualifying for the competition:
The 2017 Series was open to Women’s Teams registered with Kansas City Barbecue Soceity (KCBS), and the leading team member /pitmaster must be female. All points earned in KCBS Team-of-the-Year contests from 1/1/17 through 10/30/17 counted toward the Fire & Ice points chase. The top ten teams by 10/30/17 were granted a Golden Ticket and a travel stipend to attend the World Food Championships, where they faced off in two contests:
Day 1: Teams competed in a short, 2-hour Fire & Ice grilling challenge in which teams could grill any food using Cowboy Lump Charcoal as the heat source. This Griller’s Choice was judged by a panel using WFC’s E.A.T. methodology.
Day 2: Teams competed at the World Barbecue Championship using the standard KCBS sanctioned rules and processes.
The Fire & Ice Series Final winners were determined by the combined points, equally weighted, from both contests.
Prizes: Grand Champion: Prize Package $9,000
Reserve Grand Champion: Prize Package of $4,000
3rd-10th Place: Prize package of $1,500
Shannon Tuner currently lives in Apex, North Carolina with her husband/teammate along with their five dogs and cat. She works at a pharmaceutical company and enjoying competing at BBQ contests on the weekends and during her spare time.
M: Hi Shannon, how long have you been grilling for? What type of grills do you own and do you have a favorite? Which grill(s) do you use in competitions?
S: We have been competing as Muttley Crew BBQ for four years. We cook on a Stumps Smoker currently which is our favorite. We also own another Stumps Smoker, a Deep South Smoker, a Primo Grill, A Grilla Grill, and a Royall Tailgaiter.
M: What made you get started in competition BBQ? How long have you been competing? Can you tell me about some of your experiences at competitions whether good or bad?
S: We helped a friend a few times and then joined his team. We then decided to separate and cook on our own which I have done for four years now. The best part of competing is the friends we have met. It is also fun to experiment with different rubs, sauces, and techniques to see how the slightest changes affect your outcome.
M: What advice do you have for women who would like to start competing but are intimidated to do so?
S: Just jump in and do it. Some of the best people you will meet are BBQ people and they are always willing to help.
M: Can you tell me about the competitions you participated in, in order to qualify for the World Food Championships?
S: The World Food Championships rankings reflected the KCBS standings . Therefore, if you did well in KCBS contests, this is how you were ranked in comparison to fellow female competitors.
M: What was your biggest concern going into the Fire & Ice finals?
S: My biggest concern was if the rules would be changed last minute as they were the previous year, and not being allowed to cook with my husband. We have cooked so much together, and we know how to read each other and we work well together.
M: What do you do to prep for competitions? Any special preparation for the finals?
S: We prep the meat, make injections, and sauces the week before so when we arrive on Thursday night, we don’t have much to do but set up our work area and start injecting on Friday once meat inspection is complete. Since my sister, Michelle Jordy was helping me for the final, we ran through our cook and made a timeline so we were both clear on what we needed to do and when. Of course this prepared us to handle any unexpected situations.
M: Tell me about what you cooked and how you felt about your performance prior to judging.
S: I cooked Snake River Farms Gold Grade Filet Mignon cuts with compound butter made with blue cheese, chives, and garlic. These were served along Hasselback potatoes with bleu cheese and drizzled with red pepper jelly and grilled asparagus. I felt good about the dish we served and was hopeful that it would hold up against the other ladies.
M: Tell me about what it felt like when they announced you as the winner.
S: It was great! I worked really hard this year to improve and was lucky enough to come away with three Reserve Grand Championships and three Grand Championships! The competition was extremely tough, and the ladies really stepped up to bat.
M: That is your favorite food to grill, and what is your favorite wood to use with it?
S: I really enjoy cooking chickenas it can be one of the more subjective categories for the judges. I like apple and hickory wood.
No doubt Shannon worked incredibly hard all year leading up to the finals and she will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in future competitions. I look forward to following her grilling adventures as well as all of the other fierce women competitors!
Check out www.cowboyfireandice.com