Artists of barbecue fire up for competition in Blue Dome District
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, September 23, 2012
9/24/12 at 7:22 AM
There's a science to preparing perfect barbecue, but it's also an art.
"The Art of BBQ" took over the Blue Dome District on Friday night and Saturday as more than 40 teams of barbecue artisans took part in a fundraiser for the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa.
Craig Dahlquist of Tulsa's "3 Guys Smokin' " team cooked up this idea 15 years ago when he was a board member with the council.
Although the sophisticated charms of the arts and the down-home goodness of barbecue might have seemed to be an unlikely combination initially, Dahlquist said he explained back then that top-quality cooking is an art form.
It proved to be a winning recipe. Ken Busby, executive director of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, said the event quickly outgrew Harwelden Mansion - its original site - and has also been held at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and ONEOK Field before winding up in the Blue Dome District this year.
Busby said about 4,400 attended last year with a similar crowd expected this year.
Shortly before noon, it seemed like all of those people were standing in line to get a sample from the "3 Guys Smokin' " tent. That's where Dahlquist and business partner Tim Kelly reminisced about their early days traveling to similar events in a 1978 Buick Le Sabre, the trunk of which would be used in the cooking process once they arrived at their destinations.
"It's a hobby that went awry," Kelly joked about a business that has branched into the production of sauces, catering and teaching others the art of barbecue in cooking classes.
Kelly said good-naturedly that it's aggravating when one of their proteges edges them out for honors in a competition such as this.
However, that spirit of helping out future competition is apparently common in the barbecue world.
Robert "T-Bone" Thomas and Paula Thomas of the "Smokin' Bones" team out of Owasso said they were known for the barbecue they served for large parties at their house. About 10 years ago, a guest from Kansas City with experience in the world of competitive barbecue told the couple they were producing food good enough to win such events.
They have proven him right in subsequent competitions over the last decade and have even established a catering company.
"It's something we do well together," said Paula, who handles the application of spices and rubs while Robert does the cooking.
Mick "Bruce" Mitchell, who is part of "The Dynamic Duo of BBQ" along with Aaron "Kyle" Suntken, said what was being served Saturday to those who paid $10 each for a People's Choice Tasting Kit was better than restaurant quality.
"Everyone out here is good," said Mitchell, as he looked around at the competition. "All of these guys know what they are doing."
Not all of the competitors were guys, though.
Randa Warren of the "Spicy Spitfire & Co." team is passionate about barbecue and also happens to be a master sommelier. According to her website, in 2007, she became the 16th woman in the world to earn that title.
Besides being a wine expert, Warren said she also owns three smokers used in barbecue preparation. Illustrating the point that one never knows what will make a successful recipe, Warren said she once took third place in this competition with a steak that had been dropped in the grass.
Warren said she has taken part in "The Art of BBQ" since its inception and is glad to participate in an event that benefits such a worthy cause.
According to its website, the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa was established in 1961 by community leaders as a nonprofit, educational organization. It is an umbrella organization for 58 constituent groups with an aim of coordinating and promoting arts and culture throughout Tulsa.
First place (Grand Champion): "Little Pig Town," Owasso
Second place: "Munchin' Hogs at the Hilton"
Third place: "Hog Tide Bar-B-Que"
Fourth place: "Uncle BC's"
Fifth place: "Buffalo's BBQ"
Original Print Headline: Artists of barbecue fire up for competition downtown
David Harper 918-581-8359
Tim Kelly (left) and Craig Dahlquist prepare barbecue as onlookers watch nearby at the Art of BBQ event in downtown Tulsa on Saturday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World