The Fox Valley was the site of some smoking hot competition Sunday.
More than 50 grilling teams put their backyard reputations on the line during the Firin' Up the Fox BBQ Competition and Festival, held at the Shodeen lot on the corner of Route 38 and Randall Road in St. Charles.
Among the grillers was Elburn resident Mike Kalke, known professionally in his lawn care business as the "Weed Man."
"We're amateurs. We have only done this a few times," he said. "We're just out here for the camaraderie, enjoying the day with friends and family."
He said he brought a special rib cooking technique to the table, what he called a "2-2-1," involving smoking the meat for two hours without tinfoil, putting it in the foil for another two hours, and then taking it out of the foil for another hour and basting it with his special sauce. The sauce comes from his late mother's recipe, which he only discovered a month ago, several years after her passing.
Streamwood resident Garron Thomas, though entered in the amateur competition, showed some serious professionalism, breaking out the heavy artillery that included a side box smoker known as "Old Faithful," where he was warming up his specialty "lollipop chicken legs."
"Everyone seems to do thighs, so I went with the lollipop chicken," Thomas said. "It's not really common on the amateur circuit."
Pals Mike Cooper and Mike Longo of Geneva were in their first competition. Cooper said his secret weapon was "Parkay."
Cooper said the team's name, "Rub My Butt," stems from the sobriquet for pork shoulder, the "Boston butt."
Kevin Call, organizer of the event, said the judging is done in a "double-blind" process, with neither the judge nor the judged knowing each other. Judges use the "gold standard" for judging, the Kansas City Barbeque Society standards.
One of the highlights of the day was the kids' competition.
Streamwood resident Dan Mohr and his 5-year-old daughter Alexis were wearing T-shirts bearing the words "Daddy's Little Grill."
"I do the professional (competition), and she has always wanted to learn," said Mohr.
Alexis' specialty Sunday was ribs. Her father said Alexis is a fanatic for her dad's ribs.
"That's actually all she wanted for her birthday. She didn't want any presents. She only wanted ribs," he said.