By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When it comes to barbecuing, smoking and competition, it can be an all-night ordeal.
Stillwater Elk’s Lodge hosted its 25th annual Blazathon this weekend and for the many participants, taste, texture and appearance takes over the need for sleep.
Stillwater competitor David Hoffman of Hog Leg Smoking worked to prepare his meats Friday.
“I’ve been doing this about six years,” Hoffman said. “I built a smoker and jumped in.”
Hoffman is joined by his team that includes his wife and friend Joe Hatten, among other family and friends.
“It’s just a family deal,” he said. “The first couple of years I’ve done it, we’ve done pretty good.”
The Elks Lodge is a familiar setting for Hoffman. It’s where he first started competing. He took 35th overall on his first try. Since then, he’s traveled to other competitions to gain experience and enjoy the pastime.
“We’ve been to Tulsa, we’ve been to Claremore. I’ve been over to Bikes and Blues in Fayetteville,” he said. “I’ve been quite a few places.”
And the competition doesn’t get easier as the years go on, he said.
“When you got people that cook on the cook channels showing up here like Troy Black; he makes a living cooking,” Hoffman said. “I do this as a weekend deal.”
Hoffman is the owner of a local construction company. His wife owns a local hair salon.
The team presented four foods to the judges Saturday, including beef brisket, pork ribs, pork butt and chicken. The process began at 9 p.m. Friday and continued until the first set of food was given to judges at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Hours of preparation goes into the meats.
“We do a lot of rubs and we make all our own stuff,” he said.
Expectations change every year in certain competitions. This year, the Kansas City Barbecue Society wants sauce on all the meats whereas in years past, they wanted the final meat presentations to be dry, Hoffman said.
While 35th was not a bad showing for Hoffman’s first go round, he said he’s hoping to break the top 20 this year.
Hoffman said he’s been experimenting with different rubs, marinades and home remedies. This year, he’s using mesquite, hickory and pecan types of wood to smoke. Anyone who has ever smoked knows that different pieces of wood give off a different taste, he said.
As he prepared his custom built Horizon smoker, created for him by a company based in Perry, Hoffman said the competitive barbecuing scene is full of camaraderie.
“It’s a lot of fun if you like doing it,” he said. “I do. I enjoy it. There’s a lot of good people.”