The event is the annual Brentwood Barbecue King Cookoff, featuring plenty of smoky meat, good-natured trash-talking and dozens of televisions tuned to Super Bowl XLII. Those who have attended before know that, in addition to the tri-tip, chicken and ribs prepared by 15 chefs vying for the coveted BBQ King trophy, the event includes an appearance by Gorilla Rilla, reduced prices on bowling and beer, and enough games, raffles and friendly conversation to keep even casual football fans happy.
What many don't know, however, is the careful consideration given to assure fair and impartial judging. City Councilman Chris Becnel is in charge of this year's arbiters, and has provided this rundown on the judges' rigorous selection process and qualifications:
"I have chosen from event sponsors, elected officials, former contestants, PAL (Police Activities League) board members … and people I like.
"This year's judges are Stevie Allen of ECC Bank (sponsor) and her husband; Rick Lemyre of the Brentwood Press (sponsor); Bill Harris of Brentwood Fine Meats (sponsor who, by the way, donates all the meat); Mayor Bob Taylor; Vice Mayor Bob Brockman; Jim Wangeman (sponsor, PAL board member and former BBQ King); Police Chief (and PAL board member) Mark Evenson (note: his expertise is really in coffee and donuts, but he has been retrained for this event); and Bill Hill, owner of Summerwood Properties and good friend.
"The judging is through a blind tasting to ensure the event's integrity (imagine that - a lawyer ensuring fairness in the system). That is why the lovely and gracious Donna Becnel is there to make sure it happens."
Tickets are $30 per person at the door. Judging takes place at 1:30 p.m., and serving begins at 2. Harvest Park is located at 5000 Balfour Road in Brentwood. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
Proceeds, including "donations" made through the esteemed panel of judges, go to PAL and the East Contra Costa Historical Society.