SMOKEY POINT — The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce’s first cook-off sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association went so well that event organizers expect to expand it next year.
Debbie Whitis chaired both the sanctioned barbecue cook-off on Saturday, Aug. 17, and the second annual community barbecue on Sunday, Aug. 18, in conjunction with the marketplace street fair at the intersection of 172nd Street NE and 51st Avenue. While the community cook-off drew only three barbecue chefs from the area, the sanctioned cook-off reached its maximum allowable number of 20 chefs.
“We actually had to turn one away,” Whitis said. “Next year, we’re getting a permit for 40 barbecue chefs. Our grand champion this year came from Silver Lake, and we had competing chefs come from Canada, Oregon, the Tri-Cities, Wenatchee, Bellingham, Bellevue, Bothell, Stanwood and Lake Stevens. We didn’t have anyone from Arlington, though.”
Stanwood’s Bill Hoerner became as close as Arlington had to a hometown hero in the sanctioned cook-off, as one of three chefs from last year’s community cook-off who entered the sanctioned cook-off this year.
“It’s the difference between five teams last year versus 20 professional circuit teams this year,” said Bill Hoerner, of Lily Bleu Barbecue, whose son Billy competed in this year’s community cook-off as Baby Bleu Barbecue. “It’s the difference between one day of light cooking versus two full days of cooking.”
While Bill Hoerner Sr. entered all four meat categories — pork butt, brisket, chicken and pork ribs — and estimated that he served more than 150 barbecue bites, until he eventually ran out of meat, Billy Hoerner Jr. prepared London broil and lollipop chicken legs for his first competition this year.
“I love the way the flavors mix, the smokey with the sweet,” Billy Hoerner said. “For me, the joy of cooking is seeing people’s faces as they bite into something good.”