Community of Food

Low & Slow pleases crowds with sweet, hot BBQ

By HSIAO-CHING CHOU

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER FOOD WRITER
It didn’t rain and people showed up in droves. Everything else was sweet, spicy barbecue sauce.
The P-I’s Low & Slow “Light” BBQ Northwest Championship last Saturday in the University District drew thousands of enthusiasts who stood three-deep “grilling” competitors about technique, the virtues of regional cooking styles, and the composition of a perfect sauce or rub. If they were lucky, they tasted the meats of the barbecuers’ labor.

The teams — including Bulldog BBQ, Aggieny & ExTexasy, Burning Sensation, Grills on Fire, and Rainbow Catering — started pulling up to the Ave at 6 a.m. to pitch their canopies and light their cookers, some of which were large enough to require towing. Not long after that, the smoke began to rise above the two-block stretch, engulfing it in the aroma of good “Q.”
People who had to park blocks and blocks away said they could smell the event before they even got close to the site. When they arrived, they discovered that a barbecue competition, beyond the food itself, is about people and hospitality.
“If you’re going to cook barbecue,” said Sharon Yarbrough, “you have to be a very open person.”

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Yarbrough and her husband, Mack, comprise the team Aggieny & ExTexasy, which won the $300 prize for “Friendliest Booth” — and first place in the chicken category.
“We’re from Texas and it’s a Southern thing,” said Yarbrough, who calls herself a Texan with soggy feet. “You never met a stranger. When you fire up those pits, you’re not inside your house. You’re outside with everybody and they just come. We just love to meet people and it’s why we go to all the barbecues.”

Angelina Minion, who owns Angel’s Taste of Heaven Catering with her husband, Jim, sold barbecue to the masses at the Low & Slow. Even more than selling out of food, it was the family camaraderie that she enjoyed the most.
“We had two daughters and two future son-in-laws, four grandkids, and Jim and I working this booth,” Minion bragged. “I was very impressed with all of their performances. The teamwork, cooperation and professionalism they displayed made me very proud.”
The competitor who took the $500 prize for grand champion was Steve Yip, owner of Rainbow Catering in Renton. Like many competitors, he fell into barbecue: He agreed to make barbecue for a catering job, ordered a special pit and ended up buying wood chips from a member of the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association. The wood man asked Yip if he was a member of the association.

yn, Burning Sensation

He wasn’t, but he became one that day.
“I was too busy to compete last year, but I told myself that this year I would make time to try and find out if my barbecue is up to competition snuff,” said Yip, who competed in only seven events prior to winning the Low & Slow. “At each competition I learn something new and at each competition I’ve won something. I studied the numbers to figure out what the judges are looking for and worked my way up.”
When Yip’s name was announced as the grand champion, his reaction was more sincere than a pig’s love for rolling around in mud. All the other teams cheered him on.
It’s the barbecue way.

BBQ BEST
Here is a partial list of the winners of the Low & Slow “Light” BBQ Northwest Championship.

Grand Champion: Steve Yip, Rainbow Catering
Reserve Champion: Lynne Brokaw, Grills on Fire
First Place Sausage: Harry Smith, Harry’s Haute House
First Place Produce: Alan Dujenski, Bulldog BBQ
First Place Tri-tip: Lynne Brokaw, Grills on Fire
First Place Chicken: Mack and Sharon Yarbrough, Aggieny & ExTexasy
First Place Ribs: Steve Yip, Rainbow Catering
Friendliest Booth: Mack and Sharon Yarbrough, Aggieny & ExTexasy
Best New Cook: Steve Jerm

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