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Chamber barbecue draws local chefs | SLIDESHOW
SMOKEY POINT — The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce aimed to make Smokey Point live up to its name once more, as five cooking teams entered nine different types of food between them in the Chamber’s barbecue cook-off on Saturday, Aug. 18.
The barbecue competition in the parking lot of the Whidbey Island Bank, near the Chamber’s offices, was joined by a two-day marketplace street fair in the adjacent parking lot of the Arlington Wal-Mart on Aug. 18-19.
Chamber Managing Director Mary Jane Harman described the cook-off and marketplace as experiments that succeeded well enough to continue. Although this year’s barbecue was not officially sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association, it followed the PNWBA rules and did well enough that the Chamber is already in talks with the Association to team up on next year’s event.
“All three judges were so blown away by the wonderful flavors, they said it was like a having a party in your mouth,” Harman said.
Washington LawnScapes, which has offices in both Arlington and Marysville, sent Jaime Martinez to the cook-off, where he presented his family’s six-generations-old recipe for carne asada.
“Timing is everything,” Martinez said. “If you go easy, it tenderizes it, but if it’s too hot, or you let it burn for too long, that’s a mistake.”
John Locantore of Bam BBQ & Catering in Marysville won fourth place for his pork, and noted the subjectivity of barbecue tastes as he prepared his plates.
“It depends a lot on what area of the country you’re in,” Locantore said. “The key is to keep it simple. You want your spices and rub to enhance the flavor of your meat, not overwhelm it. I think barbecue’s about to hit it big like coffee stands have done.”
Dan Fullen of DJ’s BBQ, also in Marysville, won third place for his chicken, and credited the strength of his marinade as the secret to his success.
“There’s so many different ways you can smoke the meat,” said Fullen, who also submitted pork and beef ribs. “We prefer to use hickory, pecan and cherry. But the marinade is what makes it moist and tender.”
Roxanne Ferrera’s chicken won second place for Lightin Logs & Smokin Hogs BBQ, yet another Marysville team, and she advised aspiring barbecue chefs to exercise patience.
“Slow and steady,” Ferrara said, as she cooked barbecue pork for customers but chicken for the judges. “Don’t rush it. This is my first barbecue competition, so I’m sticking with chicken because it’s simple, and making sure it looks mouthwatering even before it goes in their mouths.”
Bill Hoerner of Lily Blue Barbecue in Stanwood won the grand prize for his filet mignon, although he also submitted pork tenderloin and stuffed chicken.
“It was beautifully presented and melted in your mouth,” Harman said. “Overall, it was all three judges’ first choice for appearance, tenderness, texture and taste.”
Between the barbecue cook-off and marketplace street fair, the Chamber drew an estimated 250 attendees over the weekend.
“It wasn’t nearly as big as the downtown Arlington Street Fair, but they’ve been around for many years,” Harman said. “We hope one day to have our event become as big and successful as that event is. We’ve made a lot of new friends and vendors at this event, and hope to double its size for next year.”