Finger-lickin’ Good Food at the Cattleman’s BBQ Competition
Barbeque … The word alone makes your mouth start watering for some smokey delicious meats. For me, the word conjures up the mental picture of family and friends, standing around the grill, drinks in hands, cooking and enjoying a sunny day. And barbeque can have that same meaning in Puerto Rico and across all of the Caribbean islands.
The funny thing is that every griller thinks they do it best and that they deserve the title of Master of the Grill!
The Cattleman’s Caribbean BBQ Competition has been held every year since 2008 to settle the debate about who is the Carribean’s best Pit Master. Luckily for us, they offer samples to everyone! So grab a bib and mark you calendars for February 22nd and 23rd, 2014.
The venue for this competition is the paved and grassy areas in front of the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, so it’s kinda like one big, backyard party. It’s a 2-day, weekend competition.
On Saturday, they have Caribbean BBQ of the Lechón Asado variety, which means whole roast pigs on a spit. A number of competing teams use traditional or modern roasting techniques, and their own secret seasoning recipes. In 2011, they said they had 5 lechóns ready for sampling every hour!
On Sunday, they have the more traditional American-style Cattlemen’s BBQ Competition featuring lots of teams smoking and grilling of all different types of meats. This is the finger-lickin’, BBQ sauce-slathering day!
On both days, there are samples of meats, drinks, and lots of other goodies. They also have live music, cooking demonstrations, Chef Challenge competitions, hot wings eating contests, items for sale, and things to keep the kids occupied, like a video arcade, play area, and more.
We went on the Saturday in 2011, and enjoyed it! Of course, lechón was the primary thing that we sampled, but there were also burgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak, and side dishes given out as samples. Even though these were only samples, there were a lot of them, so we were stuffed by the end of the day!
We got there early (about 1:30pm), and it was not that crowded. Though it got more crowded as the day wore on. It was an overcast day, with threatening-looking rain clouds, so maybe that kept some people away.
Pointers & Details
This is an outdoor event, with only a little shade. Wear a hat, sunscreen, casual clothes, and comfortable shoes.
Try to be hands-free. There are few tables and chairs available, and you will need 2 hands to eat and drink while standing. Trying to juggle a handbag and camera while trying to eat is makes for a challenging day.
There were a number of hand-washing stations available, so you can wash your greasy hands between sampling stations. The restrooms were porta-potties, and there were a number of those, too.
Admission fee is $20/day, and $10 for kids (5-10), kids under 5 are free. The fee includes samples (while they last). Some of the booths gave unlimited samples, while others limited it to one sample/person. Drinks of all types were available for purchase. Tickets were available at the door (possibly cash only). Parking is at the Convention Center.
In 2014, the competition is on Saturday and Sunday, Feb 22 and Feb 23. Saturday 12 noon – 7pm, Sunday 11am -6pm. Samples are available usually about 1 hour after doors open.
You can visit the Caribbean BBQ Association web site for more information or if your BBQ team wants to be part of the competition next year.
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