Page 27 - April 2021 Barbecue News Digital
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 he couldn’t hear what Dick and Larry were
talking about and it gave him a chance to
rest – and avoid seeing all the “unique”
routes the two in the front seats had
cooked up. Yes, they are a competitive lot,
even down to which navigation system
they would use. If they had been to a con-
test before, Dick’s memory became the
navigation system and sometimes it
worked and other times a little sightseeing
was involved before they arrived at the
contest. Then again, Larry might program
the right city, just not the right state. I’m
sure there was a fair amount of “recalcu-
lating” happening on their many road
trips. Their judging trips were fast with
limited stops – you “have to get there ya
know”. The long trips home from judging
resulted in hours and hours of discussions
on various rubs and sauces they could use
(more on that later). Since beginning the KCBS judging journey in 2012, all 3 have become master judges and have judged “too many contests to count”.
Frugality was also in play during their travels as it does in real life. Nothing like stopping at the state line and picking up an- other paper state highway map to add to Dick’s ever-growing col- lection. Or how about watching a few YouTube videos to learn to cut hair with a used hair clipper?
They are all competitive and it is how they entered the world of KCBS BBQ as the Three Thirds BBQ Team. Although Dick and Duane would have preferred to continue judging, Larry convinced them they could be a successful BBQ team. They came up with their team name while brainstorming over a few beers. Thank- fully, their wives stepped in and saved them from themselves. They had come up with a different word for Thirds – use your imagination to figure out a word that rhymes with thirds and starts with a “t” and ends with “ds”. Thank you, Liz, Monica and Linda!
Why move from judging to cooking? They thought they could cook better BBQ and make money at it. Afterall, they had spent hours and hours talking about cooking ideas, rubs and sauces on their countless judging road trips. What is that saying in Texas – all hat and no cattle? I wonder how many cooks thought the exact same thing when they started out? Competitive cooking wasn’t new to them as they had frequently competed in chili cookoffs. In fact, Larry “borrowed” Dick’s chili recipe and went on to earn his way into a World Food contest. Each had a motive – for Larry it was the competition and potential financial rewards, for Dick it was about the adventure and for Duane it was about the camaraderie and fun. And so, the adventure began. Dick bought a smoker, then bought the same smoker for Larry while Duane bought his own smoker which was a different brand and style.
They then started to practice. During one tasting they came to an agreement that “this was it” only to discover they hadn’t written down the recipe. However, that didn’t stop their determination and they were off to their first contest – a ribs only contest in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota. It was raining and Larry was in charge of the tent. He had brought the tent but forgot the poles
and stakes. In true BBQ family coopera- tion, they eventually located poles and stakes and got the tent erected – just as the rain stopped. It was an omen for their first cook as they placed 15th out of 14 teams due to those “damn judges” (you will want to ask them why and how that happened).
At a contest in Murphysboro, IL, Duane wasn’t needed as a judge so he was re- cruited to stand outside the canopy and hold an umbrella over the grills and use his cellphone to provide the light. Appar- ently, our intrepid team had forgotten their other lights. A true Statesmen, Duane is a very dedicated team player. They also are responsible for keeping the canopy manufacturers in business. In one contest it was coals rolling against the
canopy, at another contest the smoker was too close to the side curtain and finally (well, 3 times) the wind turned the canopy into a tumbleweed ending up as a “sculpture” that was left in place as a donation to the event. And let us not forget about Larry’s leg- endary impatience and leaving events right after turn-in and be- fore awards. In some cases,
loading a grill that hadn’t quite
fully cooled resulting in singed
carpet in their vehicle.
After their KCBS adventures and cooking in IA, MN and WI, Dick (always the instigator) de- cided they should try the SCA. In 2015, they headed off to Mount Pleasant, MO to take the certified judge class. It wasn’t long before they were PRIME judges and the thoughts of cooking a SCA event was on their minds. Dick has one of those minds that is constantly trying to figure things out, so competitive cooking is natural for him. At their first cookoff all 3 cooked – Duane came out on top and it is a day he will never forget. Over time Larry has earned a Golden ticket and placed as high as 13th in the US, but that level of success has been elu- sive to Dick and Duane. Dick and Larry continue to cook steak, but Duane has moved on to doing more judging than cooking. He and his wife Linda (Dick and Larry’s sister) go to the same contests with the brothers, but are there to judge, harass the boys, and help with anything they may need.
Larry Dahlen giving Dick Dahlen his “just a little off the top COVID cut”
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