For the third year in a row I have looked forward to – and thoroughly enjoyed myself at – the Similkameen BBQ King Competition. This is an event put on by the Similkameen Wineries Association and is a partial fundraiser for the historic Grist Mill & Gardens in Keremeos. This year’s sold-out event (425 tickets) took place on Saturday July 12th, one of the hottest days of the year; I do believe it was topping out at around 39 degrees (that’s 102 for those of you south of the border) and without much of a breeze. We headed down in time to take part in the first part of the evening, where each of the wineries were pouring a selection of their wines and appetizers were provided by Benja Thai (always a favourite), Tree to Me, and the Branding Iron (2013 winner). The food and wines were very tasty, particularly the chilled whites and rosés given the outdoor temperature! This year’s musical entertainment was provided by Ajna Jazz Trio, featuring hometown favourite Johnnie Bridgman, and joined by special vocalist Corinne Painter.
This year, the winery and chef pairings were as follows:
Shayna Merritt from Shayna & Shulman Culinary Adventures (Penticton), paired with Orofino – 2013 Home Vineyard Riesling
Jason Hartl from the Delta Grand Okanagan (Kelowna), paired with Clos du Soleil Winery – 2013 Rosé
Chris Boehm from Burger 55 (Penticton), paired with Forbidden Fruit Winery – 2011 Merlot
Jeff Van Geest from Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek (Oliver), paired with Eau Vivre Winery – 2012 Riesling
Brent Pillon from Hillside Winery & Bistro (Penticton), paired with VineGlass Winery – 2013 Why Knot White
Adair Scott from Watermark Beach Resort (Osoyoos), paired with Rustic Roots Winery – 2013 Apple Pear
Justin Paakkunainen from Walnut Beach Resort (Osoyoos), paired with Robin Ridge Winery – 2012 Gamay
Lee Humphries from Local Lounge & Grille (Summerland), paired with Seven Stones Winery – 2009 Pinot Noir
Natasha Schooten from the Grist Mill (Keremeos), paired with Sage Bush Winery – 2012 Pinot Noir
65 lb Round Hog (Two Rivers Meats), 20 bunches Certified Organic Rainbow Carrots (Similkameen River Organics), 20 lbs Certified Organic Zucchini (10 lbs from Harker’s Organics, 10 lbs from Belly Achers), 20 lbs Certified Organic Lambert Cherries (Crockett Farms), 2 lbs Certified Organic Mixed Sorrel, Lemon and Red Veined (Harker’s Organics), 1 x 100 gram shaker of Country Pepper (made by Canadianna Spicery in Keremeos).
From this, the following dishes were created:
Judging was a little bit different this year. There was the People’s Choice Award, and then the media/judges voted for the Similkameen BBQ King Award. This year there was also a runner-up announced for each award.
The runner-up for the People’s Choice Award was Chef Natasha Schooten from the Grist Mill, with Sage Bush Winery. The runner-up for the Similkameen BBQ King was Shayna Merritt from Shayna & Shulman Culinary Adventures, with Orofino Winery. I also think there should have been a special mention of the best choice for use of the cherries: Jason Hartl’s Cherry& Rosé Sour Cream Ice Cream. This was the most delicious thing ever, particularly given the hot temperatures. It was made with the assistance of dry ice and had to be gulped down pretty quickly, but it was awesome!
There was a double winner this year, taking both the People’s Choice and the title of 2014 Similkameen BBQ King: Chef Lee Humphries from Local Lounge & Grille, for his Three Way Pork Taco: BBQ Pulled Pork, Pork/Sorrel Sausage, Piggy Puffs, Pickled Zucchini, Carrot/Sorrel Salad, Cherry Hot Sauce. This was paired with the Pinot Noir from Seven Stones Winery, poured by owner/winemaker George Hanson.
Congratulations to the winners, all participants, and to the organizers of such a fabulous event! See you again next year!