Where there's backyard smoke there's steak on a grill 

Grill season is here and Bbq Bob shares three barbecue tips

click to enlarge BEAUTIFUL BUTT Whistler's Bbq Bob took top honours for his pork butt at the Cloverdale Rodeo Cookoff.
  • BEAUTIFUL BUTT Whistler's Bbq Bob took top honours for his pork butt at the Cloverdale Rodeo Cookoff.

It might be as quick as a few minutes or a lengthy15-hour marathon.

No matter your grilling preference, barbecue season is here with arms wide open. Outdoor aprons are no longer collecting dust in a closet, the grilling utensils are out of the drawer and the steaks are marinating in the refrigerator.

One of the greatest pleasures of the warm season is the opportunity to give the kitchen oven a break and hand the heat duties over to any one of a number of outdoor grilling devices.

Some of the popular late spring, summer and early fall grill items include pulled pork grilled low and slow, brisket, roasted chicken, pork ribs and good old fashion homemade burgers.

Bob Haselbach, Whistler's award winning grill specialist, is preparing for another season of competition and his first few events are already off the grill.

Bbq Bob, as he is best known, competed earlier this month at the first ever Cloverdale Rodeo Cookoff. The long-running country fair and rodeo in Surrey has been a tradition for the last 124 years and, apparently, this year the organizers wanted to try a few new things.

They put $10,000 up for grabs for competitive grillers and another $10,000 for skateboarders who competed in the First Annual World Freestyle Round-Up.

Bbq Bob got all over the cooking competition and picked up first place in the pork butt event. He finished 14th overall out of 30 teams.

Bob wasn't too broken up about the mid-pack finish because he was featured on Global Vancouver's Saturday morning news that weekend and since his TV appearance more than a few people have dropped into his restaurant, which shares his nickname, to report that they saw him on TV so they had to check out his restaurant.

"I ran out of gas for chicken and ribs on Sunday," says Bbq Bob at his Creekside eatery on a sunny spring afternoon. "It was worth it to get a plug on TV!"

For the record this was Bbq Bob's second appearance on TV. He guest starred as a barbecue expert on the Women's Network show called The Shopping Bags with Anna and Kristina.

"The Oprah Winfrey Network has picked up that show so when it's on I get random phone calls," says Bbq Bob.

His surprised friends, who happen to be watching, will call him to inform him he's on television.

The champion of the charcoal says less experienced grillers tend to make three main mistakes.

We'll start with number three because it is a simple issue. Bob prefers charcoal over propane.

"That's just a no-brainer," he says. "Its like CDs and vinyl as far as I'm concerned and I still have an active turntable. It's a bit more work but well worth it."

The top two tips from Bbq Bob are all about patience.

First, he says, let your grill heat up before you put the meat onto it and second, he says, let the cooked meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving it.

"If your grill is not at the optimum temperature, nice and high, it won't seer it off and lock in those juices," says Bob.

After just the right amount of time on the hot grill take the meat off, and be patient.

"All the juices relax and go out through the meat and disperse evenly, it is just juicy and delicious all the way through," Bob says of the resting period.

This former Roundhouse chef knows his stuff after competing at more than a few provincial, national and international championships

His schedule through the rest of the season includes trips to Langley for the B.C. championships, a new event in Nanaimo, Calgary for Barbecue on the Bow and, of course, the national championships in Whistler.

He's also scheduled to compete in Kansas City at an invitational event and an open event.

If all goes well and with some luck Bob also hopes to compete at the world championships in Lynchburg, TN. The event is an invitational competition held in October after the competition in KC. His name is in the lottery, as has been the case for the last two years. Bob says he hopes to get the draw this year to go to the Jack Daniel's distillery where the world championship event is held.

"It is a dry county, you can't buy or sell alcohol there," says Bob in a slightly mocking tone. "It's unique to say the least."

He got to go to the big event on someone else's team in 2005 and he went back in 2006 with his own team. Bbq Bob is itching to get back for another shot at international grilling greatness.

Now, side one of Dark Side of the Moon is finished so it's time to flip the record then pour some Jack over ice and check the pulled pork.

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