Report of the Competition in Hungary
It’s been a very long season, started at last january at West but as it often happens even to the most pleasant things, it had to come to an end. If there was to be an end, I do not think we could have chosen a better contest to celebrate it. It was just perfect: a fantastic weather with a clear sky and spring temperatures, many teams of friends with whom we have shared an infinite series of competitions so to be able to greet them before the winter stop, a new beautiful competition to give baptism to and a gorgeous vineyard in the vivid colors of autumn that framed all this.
The last event of 2017, both for us and for the KCBS circuit in Europe, was held in Hungary, in Tàllya, a small village in the famous Tocaji region, which give birth to an exceptional wine, unfortunately less well-known than it deserves, which in its late harvest version is much compared to Sautern. The organizational and technical level of the Tàllya Master Series was stunning, even considering that this is a first edition: 40 participating teams from 11 countries, almost half of the teams in the top 15 places of the TOY rankings, a massive participation of public and media communication truly remarkable. The competition site included a 6×3 gazebo supplied to most of teams with light and electricity, smokers to who requested them, Landman’s direct presence to ensure the availability of charcoal and any kind of material to attending teams, hot water sinks, refreshment points for the teams, an area dedicated to streetfood for the public with wine tasting, handcrafted beers, local schnapps, even a Jack Daniels point dedicated to cocktails made with the mythical Lynchboug Whiskey and of course a lot of barbecue. We can only renew our most gratifying compliments, already made live to Mariusz Andorjanyi and Levente Nèmeth, with whom a true friendship was born over the months. You guys did an amazing job!
Needless to say, the Tàllya Master Series was a tough competition: as we will see in the points below, in addition to the Big of the circuit, there was to be added an infinite series of Hungarian teams that while new to the competitions they have a no negligible experience in the barbecue for the masses, BBQ catering in short. It is no surprise, then, that the winner was just one of these, KGB – Katka-Gergõ-BBQ, ahead of our great friends Miss Piggy’s UK. To them both goes our greatest congratulations.
About us, we did a decent competition, with two calls on Ribs (9th) and Brisket (6th) and a decent 12th place in Pork, considering the absence of Cecca, for a good 7th overall placement.
In this last competition season post, we can’t avoid making two special mentions. The first goes to our brothers Bros Hog, third in this Tàllya Master Series at the end of a truly extraordinary season that literally took up the value of Italian barbecue in Europe of one step. I wish you even a better season in 2018 guys! The second is for our friend Peter Bootsma, a person who has made history in the European Barbecue with his LetzQ and who decided to hang the tongs to the spike (as we say in Italy) at least for a while. Peter also made a great competition here with a 3rd place Pork and a 7th Brisket: the right salutation for a beautiful person and a great Pitmaster.
We close for the last time this season, with the ranking of the 5 most beautiful memories we bring home from Tàllya.
- La The Competition Style BBQ Class – Such a high number of teams at their first competitive experience and our friendship with Mariusz made us preside over a introduction to competitive barbecue class to which a KCBS Judges certification was added by the Rep. Luca Famigli and Haymo Gutweniger with the help of our great friend Petra. The two courses then traveled in parallel: we were cooking for the participants, simulating competitive boxes that were judged by the new judges. It was a rather challenging task, a sort of contest into the contest, but that gave us so much satisfaction. We met so many wonderful people we felt we could send a bit of ourselves to. The top organizational level of the class, up to the rest of the event and the participants’ satisfaction with the tide of compliments we received was something we will remember proudly for a long time.
- Hungarians and Italians – I admit my ignorance: I did not know almost anything about Hungarian traditions and customs, nor I can say that I have a particular knowledge of their kitchen. The surprise was to discover not a few similarities with the Italians, particularly those of central and southern Italy: the same culture of the sense of hospitality, the same simple genuinity. Even the taste profile is close to ours: the myth of paprika is misleading. In fact, even the dishes that are rich of that are very well balanced. About the rest, just as we do That don’t like sweet sauces on the meat, do not use to much spices, eat desserts not overly sweet. To this is added a millennial culture in smoking meat which among other things has opened the doors to the explosion and spread of the barbecue among the Hungarians. I honestly discovered a nation and a people and it was a really enjoyable discovery.
- Don’t Feed The Barktenders – We must confess that we have been surprised by the hospitality of the Hungarians. After knowing them at the Class, on Saturday morning, just after taking possession of our competition spot, a procession started by the teams at our gazebo. I seemed to be at a wedding in Calabria: each one brought something, homemade breads, assortments of typical delicatessen, smoked cheeses, seasoned goat’s salami taken from grandfather’s cellar, lard, pork and beef sausages, wines, beers, aged schnapps, homemade gentian, tocaji flavored chocolate, kurtos and everything may come up to your mind. At peak times, those who came did not even say anything, they left the full plate directly on our smoker… At around 12.00 we realize that if we would have ate more we had to go back to hotel to sleep, competition my foot…! We then decide to hang a sign saying “Do not Feed The Barktenders” that wittily invited to drop the doses. 5 minutes later and from a corner tent a couple, holding a bottle of Pàlinka (a kind of grappa, about 50% alcohol) and pointing to the sign, made an unmistakable gesture approaching index and thumb of the hand and repeatedly taking them to the mouth like to say “ok, you can not eat but you can drink…“. So all right, we give up: let’s have a Pàlinka. Egèszsègedre! (cheers!).
- Prices in Hungary – This is something we have seen in some other country also, the United States as first, but that leaves us equally misplaced. In general we can say that life in Hungary is very cheap compared to our standard prices. The strange thing (at least for our habits) is that buying raw materials at the supermarket is in proportion more expensive than eating cooked food at the restaurant. Here in Hungary, in particular, this difference is overwhelming: supermarket prices, with a few exceptions, are quite similar to ours, while going to the restaurant and stuffing yourself with even abundant drinks, it does not generally cost more than 15 € per person. There will definitely be a logical explanation but we are not really accustomed to paying 1 € for bottle of beer at the supermarket and then paying the same money for a pint on tap drunk comfortably sitting in a bar.
- Hungarian Barbecue – One of the many things that surprised us about this weekend was the level of equipment of the Hungarian teams. The description of a country where Barbecue was a new trend and the presence in the competition of a large number of teams at their first experience had misled us. If it is true that the Hungarian teams must take measures with the mechanisms of a competition, it is equally true that they knows about barbecue itself! They are all people who know what they are talking about and you can understand it just taking a look at how they are equipped: everyone has their own uniform with banners, customized gazebo, expensive smokers, trailers. The reconstruction that we have made is that the culture of the smoker in their food culture has opened the door to an explosion of the barbecue phenomenon even more than happened here, and that brought in a short time at the opening of a series of themed restaurants of which these teams are the expression. It is sure that from the class, the certification and the competition, a natural predisposition of Hungary to the sector emerges: even if at their first trial, the work of the judges was excellent and, in competition the Hungarian teams were really very good. My impression is that in the next future in the competitive circuit we will hear about the Hungarian barbecue.
Concluded this season, expecting three months of forced break are expected. The next appointment is now in WEST for January, where we will start our 2018 season.