Countdown to the Kingsford Invitational: Across the Track Cooking Team
October 29, 2013
Today we catch up with Kerry Fellows, pitmaster of Across the Track Cooking Team, winners of the 2013 Houston Livestock & Rodeo World Championship Bar-B-Que and the first invitee to the 2013 Kingsford Invitational.
Clint: How long has your team been together?
Kerry: This year was our twelfth year.
C: And you’ve competed each year at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo?
K: That is correct.
C: Was this your highest placement so far?
K: Absolutely, this is the best we’ve done yet. We came in 9th place last year.
C: Which category was that in?
K: It was in ribs.
C: And you did first in ribs this year and overall grand champion?
K: That’s right.
C: So how many people are on the team for Houston Livestock?
K: It’s between 30 or 40, I think. I’ve been trying to put together a list, it’s at 33 and still counting now.
C: Oh wow. So who gets to go on stage out of those 30 or 40 people?
K: Just me.
C: Now did grow up around bbq and grilling?
K: Well, now let me think do you mean grow up around contests or around people cooking bbq?
C: I mean around people cooking bbq.
K: My grandmother, she used to grill. She used to get the bbq out quite often. You know, grill something.
C: Oh, so that’s where the bug bit you, out there watching grandma cooking.
C: When did she actually step aside and let you man the grill?
K: (Laughs) I don’t know if that ever happened. When I was in college we were cooking for a fundraiser. There were 3 or 4 of us and I was doing the cooking as well. That was the first time I can recall actually manning the grill myself.
C: So it wasn’t until your college days that you actually got put in charge. Where did you go to school?
K: Louisiana State University at Shreveport.
C: Do you get outside and cook much at home these days?
K: Not as much as I used to, but I get out do a little something every once in a while.
C: Is there anything that is known as your signature dish?
K: Not really, I think I’m known for once I do I grill, I try to do as much as I can. I’ll be going through the freezer and find as much to grill as I can.
C: That’s the way to do it. Then let your guests sort through whatever is coming off the grill. What is the secret to competition grilling ribs? Did you guys do anything special this year to put you over the top?
K: Well, we just tried doing what we did last year, we tweaked around with it a little bit. You know, I didn’t know it would be the same crew as last year, usually you come back and it’s a whole new crop of teams. I would have been happy to get 8th.
C: Well you definitely topped that one!
K: Yeah pretty much so.
C: So what happens, you turn in your original turn in box and then they come and tell you that you made finals? And you do another box?
K: We turned in our preliminary around 2:00. And then they came back to us between 3:30 and 4:30 and let us know we had made the finals.
C: They come around with that big sign to let you know that you made finals.
K: That’s correct. And I think we had to have our final meat ready maybe around 5:30 or 6.
C: And you topped chicken which last year won. I think it was chicken last year that won overall.
K : You know I really don’t know now that you mention it.
C: I think it was Motley Q Crew won last year for chicken.
K: Ok. Now it was Guy Fieri’s team that won last year.
C: Yeah, that’s Motley Q Crew, he cooks with them. And then you guys will actually get an automatic invitation to the Kingsford Invitational which takes place later this year. S0 you’ll be going up against seven other grand champion teams from the Jack Daniels, Memphis in May and a few other contests, vying for 50 thousand dollars.
K: Oh, ok. Are you familiar with that contest?
C: Yeah, I was there at that contest.
K: Now you aren’t restricted just to cook with coals at all, right?
C: They prefer that you cook with Kingsford Charcoal.
C: So I think that’s in November, you guys will be vying for 50,000 dollars, winner take all. Highest score in chicken, pork shoulder or whole hog, ribs and brisket.
K: Ok. Right, yeah we were trying to get the pork out now, studying the rules from other contests.
C: You can actually watch a one hour special that aired on the Outdoor Cooking Channel a couple of weeks ago. That did a really good job of showing how the contest works, what the judges are looking at and all that. It’s a unique scoring system the judges use. It’s kind of interesting to watch the show and see how the judges are scoring the categories.
– Clint Cantwell, Grilling.com Editor