PHOTOS: Hervey Bay Pitmaster wins national BBQ comp

FRASER Coast local Denis Maher – Pitmaster of Hervey Bay BBQ team ‘The Low’n’Slow BBQ Shack’ – has won a five month-long national BBQ competition hosted by Ironwood Barbecue.

Queensland lollipops anyone? One of Denis Maher’s entries in a virtual BBQ competition. PHOTO: Supplied.

The virtual BBQ competition consisted of eight categories each with a hand-in window of around two weeks. 

Points for each round were awarded for presentation (4.5 points max), difficulty (3.5 points max), and impression (2 points max). Competitors needed to think outside the box and come up with innovative dishes and special themes to ensure that their entry stood out from the field.

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Other requirements were; one protein only to be the hero of each entry, a maximum number of photos per submission with one photo of the chosen protein cooking on an approved unit, and a description of competitors’ thinking and ingredients to help the judges understand their process and method.

The competition commenced on the 12th of February and concluded at midnight on the 12th of July.

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Denis chose to barbecue a wide variety of proteins for his competition entries, including Fraser Island mud crabs, brahman hump, pork knuckles, beef shins, pork ribs, beef short ribs and lamb belly, creating feasting platters of each to impress the judges. 

PITMASTER: Denis Maher put in the hard yards to win a five month-long virtual BBQ competition. PHOTO: Supplied.

In the course of designing his hand-ins for the eight categories of the comp he drew inspiration from classic dishes from Germany, Mexico, Britain, China, the Middle East, Japan, Texas and Australia.

Some of the special dishes he created in his BBQ pits for the comp included Queensland Lollipops, Brahman Ramen, Birria Tacos, Well Hung Char Sui Pork Ribs, Crab Pots and Crab Shots, Lamb Belly Cigars, Beef Short Rib Tomahawks, Chicken Bacon, Pork Knuckle Schweinhaxen, Killer Oysters Humpatrick and Pickled Vegetable Daleks.

Denis finished with first place in the Chicken, Seafood, Mexican and Dealers’ Choice categories, 3rd place in Beef, 2nd place in Pork, 3rd place in Lamb and 4th place in Pork Ribs, giving him an overall score of 83.772 out of 90 and first place in the overall competition.

Some of the masterpieces created by Denis Maher during the course of the five month-long virtual BBQ competition. PHOTOS: Supplied.

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“After the first couple of rounds it became apparent that you really needed to do something very special in this comp with some next level culinary creativity in the BBQ pit. Hanging in there and being consistent with scores eventually got me over the finishing line. What a marathon,” said Denis.

“The journey of the BBQ comp-that-seemingly-never-ends was amazing. It has been said that Low and Slow Barbecue is an endurance sport. Well, I think that a BBQ comp that goes for five months is mighty epic.

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“It required considerable stamina and provided tons of distraction which helped me get through some painful surgery issues during that time. Coming up with crazy ideas in the wee hours of the morning and then working out how to turn them into reality in the BBQ pit was awesome therapy.

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“I’ve learnt heaps along the way experimenting with different techniques and ingredients,” he said.

“It’s been great fun and a genuine tribute to the most relaxing and rewarding past time of all – the soothing art of Low’n’Slow Barbecue. Now all we’ve got to do is get Competition BBQ recognised as an Olympic Sport for the 2032 Brisbane Games,” he joked.

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In more good news, Denis and his Low’n’Slow BBQ Shack team mates are preparing to share their BBQ goodness with the Fraser Coast community by catering for parties and events and hosting regular BBQ dinners and BBQ masterclasses with their BSG Smokers trailer-mounted offset BBQ pit “The Colonel”.

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