Where there’s smoke…

Carnivores, follow your nose this weekend and you'll likely end up at the doorstep of Dusty's, hypnotized by the wafting scent of perfectly seasoned and smoked meats.

Barbecue fanatics will be sizzling up a storm at Creekside as part of the ninth annual Canadian National BBQ Championships. Cooks from across North America will converge on Dusty's to compete for over $5,000 in prizes (plus all the glory that comes with the title of Canadian National Champion) from Friday, July 30 to Sunday, Aug. 1.

"For nine years we have been hosting the National BBQ Championships at Dusty's and every year it gets bigger and better," Joshua Kearns, Dusty's Manager, said in a recent release. "With delicious food and great music, the BBQ Championships are a great way to spend the weekend with friends and family in Whistler."

Well said!

In case you haven't had the pleasure of attending the championships before, let me fill you in. This isn't your backyard barbecue, though it's easily just as fun. In the realm of professional barbecue, propane grilling simply won't cut the mustard. No, no: the real "old school" barbecuing calls for low, indirect heat, coupled with the smoke of charcoal or wood fire, slowly cooking large cuts of meat. This slow process breaks down the connective tissues of meat, making it tender and, quite simply, delicious.

Bob Haselbach is the man behind one of almost 50 teams of passionate people that religiously attend the annual event. This is actually his sixth year competing at the championships, though most people will probably recognize Haselbach from BBQ Bob's, where he regularly dishes up solid barbecued grub for Whistler locals and friends. He's spent the past two weeks-plus prepping for the annual competition - getting grills and recipes ready, even traveling to a last-minute competition in Washington to test out his techniques and tricks.

"I just wanted one more practice just because I haven't been as successful as I was last year - I won three competitions going into Whistler last year," Haselbach explained.

At that recent competition, Haselback's chicken and ribs scored really well, so he'll be focusing on pork and beef here in Whistler.

The BBQ festivities kick off on Friday night with a free "Whole Hog" BBQ demonstration at 7 p.m., with BBQ champ Jim Ericson sharing his secrets for cooking a whole hog over a 24-hour period. (Note: said hog will be served for dinner the following night at the Saturday Night Whole Hog Feed - buy your $15 ticket ASAP.)

Saturday, also known as Local's BBQ Day, will see Whistler residents testing their BBQ skills for a chance to win over $2,000 in cash and prizes. (Um, okay, I might have to strap on an apron this weekend.) Entrants will compete in the Backyard BBQ Burger Competition and the King of the Grill competition. But be forewarned: it isn't just amateurs that throw their hats into the ring - competitors like Haselbach also play to win on Saturday. Those events kick off at 1 p.m., while the C.A.S.I International Chili Championship starts at 2 p.m.

But Sunday is the main event, with cooks from across North America going head-to-head in five competition categories: Pork Butt, Beef Brisket, Chicken, Ribs and Pork & Cork.

Add up the scores in all the categories and the highest total wins the title of grand champion. And since the National Championships are the main event on the Pacific Northwest competitive BBQ circuit, they're also a qualifier for the American Royal World Championships and the Jack Daniel's World Championship in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the winning team also walks away with a trip to Jamaica? Yeah, Bob can practically taste that trip.

And while judges get to do most of the tasting this weekend, a $5 donation to charity will get you a sampling pass to try out some of the entries.


An extra scoop

This weekend, Whistler is where it's at for foodie fun. Seriously, on top of all the action at the BBQ Championships, don't forget that the annual Feast in the Mountains is set to go down on Sunday afternoon. But even before you dig into all of that delicious food and drink, take a wander into the village on Saturday afternoon. There, you'll find culinary teams from the Bearfoot Bistro and the Four Seasons going head-to-head in an open-air Chef's Challenge smackdab in Village Square, starting at noon.

The competition is a slightly modified version of one of my favourite Food Network shows, Iron Chef. The participating chefs work with a black box ingredient to wow a panel of judges. The winner will receive a cash prize, some great kitchen gear and, of course, all the glory. Come out and catch the culinary action.



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