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Community & Business

5 July, 2021

Smoking the competition

Relative new-comers to the low and slow barbecue scene, members of the local Smooth & SmOakey Salad Dodgers team are showcasing their cooking skills on a national stage, currently sitting in sixth place in the Australasian Barbecue Alliance’s Championship Series leader board and slowly working towards their goal of taking first place.


The Smooth & SmOakey Salad Dodgers team Justin Caldwell, Grant Coleman and Mitch Barnes competing in the Brisbane BBQ Festival 2021 at the weekend.

The Oakey-based team of captain Mitch Barnes, Justin Caldwell and Grant Coleman have been on the road for the last few months competing in a range of low and slow barbecue competitions.

Their most recent event, the Brisbane BBQ Festival 2021 held at the weekend, offered a new challenge to the team with back-to-back competitions over the two days.

Mr Barnes said the team competed well, winning the half chicken section on Saturday and finishing overall Reserve Champions on Sunday, thanks to two seconds in pork ribs and chicken.

He said the win on Saturday was extra special as it was the first time a half chicken competition section has been held anywhere in Australia.

Mr Barnes said the weekend was “full on” but a welcome challenge for the local team which has a passion for creating the perfect barbecued meat.

Mr Barnes said the side was lucky to have the experience of Mr Coleman on the team with the Oakey Beef Exports general manager having about five years’ prior experience participating in similar competitions.

“Grant is well known in the scene,”he said. 

“He has also competed in the world championships at Texas which is the biggest competition for slow and low cooking.”

Mr Barnes said the goal of the ‘Smooth & SmOakey’ side is also to test their skills against the best in the world at the next competition in Texas.

“We had bought tickets to go to Texas but with COVID-19 it’s probably not going to happen,” he said.

“It’s our ultimate goal to compete in the U.S., so hopefully it will happen one day.” 

In the meantime, the team members are working hard to perfect their craft and move up the leader board. 

“We are working to win another Grand Champion trophy,” Mr Barnes said.

“We haven’t won one since the Oakey Show earlier in the year.”

Mr Barnes said the preparation for events involves refining the combination of sauces and rubs to get the perfect flavour.

“It is the flavour is where you get an edge over the competition. It gives the wow factor and it’s something we work hard at,” Mr Barnes said.

After weeks on the road, the team has a short break to practice and prepare its flavour mix before Kingaroy’s BaconFest in August. 


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