Trigg students fire up smokers

Published 5:33 pm Friday, March 10, 2017

The Flames on the Flint Barbecue competition attracts some of the best cooks in the country. There are world champions and seasoned veterans and then there is the three-man team known as Barrel Fever.

The inside of their trailer shines with the sheen of untouched chrome. The smoker sits poised on the back of the trailer ready to be used for only the second time and all the necessary equipment is still wrapped in the plastic it came in. Doug Varnadore, Wade Elliott and Bo Stillinger, who make up Barrel Fever, will be competing in their first ever competition this weekend when they fire up the smoker in Flames on the Flint.

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The trio befriended Johnny Trigg, a two time Jack Daniels World Champion, through the Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que competition in Evans, Georgia that they help organize. The friendship convinced the three that they should start competing. They attended Trigg’s cooking class, ordered all the necessary equipment and were ready to go.

“We actually just had our trailer delivered last week and [Trigg] said ‘Hey, we’re coming to Flint come in and cook beside us,” Varnadore said. “This will be our second cook on this grill so it is kind of like going on a first date and getting married the next day.”

They did one test cook of a brisket on the grill, which took longer than expected, and tried some ribs and chicken, but that is it. In their first competition the biggest question is timing.

They pointed out that Trigg has been using his smoker for years. He knows exactly how it cooks and how much time each meat needs to cook. They do not have the luxury of that experience and will have to learn on the fly.

“We are probably going to start low and slow this week to make sure we get the meat done on time,” Varnadore said. “Once we get to cooking for several events we will have a better idea of what temperature to cook and how long to cook. For us, this first time, we want to make sure we get it done and ready to go.”

They plan to start cooking around midnight to make sure that the meat is done by the turn in times.

“You can start early and finish too early, but when you get behind you are just done,” Elliott said. “It is better to have it done early then be time to turn in and not ready.”

They will be cooking next to Trigg if they need any help, but the trio said that they are ready to compete.

“The taste will be right, if we can just get the temperature right and time it enough to turn it, I think everything will be all right,” Varnadore said. “Brisket is going to be the hardest. The timing of it and the texture and if you want to turn in burnt ends depending on how they turn out.”

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