06/25/17 — Cookoff held at Busco Beach

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Cookoff held at Busco Beach

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on June 25, 2017 1:45 AM

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Dudley firefighters Cameron Jernigan and Vince Bova sample their barbecue chicken before turning it into the judges during the Busco Beach and ATV Park Cook-off Saturday.

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Cody Griffin takes his competition ribs out of tinfoil to finish them off. Also pictured, Griffin's cooking partner, Jonathan Holmes, at right.

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George Edwards of Dudley cooks chicken on his homemade grill. Edwards was the only competitor using wood chips as a source of heat and smoke.

George Edwards has always made his own grills.

He built his first one when he was 16, after starting to help his father cook when he was only 12.

On Saturday, he used a grill he had fashioned from an International truck fuel tank to serve up some chicken for Busco Beach's cookoff. Organizers plan to hold the event annually.

There were only two categories -- chicken and ribs -- and about 10 competitors.

Edwards learned how to weld from his father, and has carried on that skill into the tradition of cooking in his family.

He uses a 100-year-old sauce recipe passed down through the generations from his wife Michelle's side of the family -- it is vinegar-based, and contains six pounds of honey.

Competing alongside Edwards were a variety of folks, including cousins Cody Griffin and Jonathan Holmes.

Griffin won first-place for his ribs and took the title of overall grand champion in the Make A Difference Food Pantry cookoff several weeks ago.

The two men said they have always cooked together at family gatherings and have always made the sauces used on the meats they cook.

They competed in the ribs category Saturday.

Griffin said he smokes the ribs for about two hours, grills them in an aluminum foil wrap for about two hours and puts them back on the grill for another hour to allow the sauce to get tacky and sticky on the meat.

He said on average, the sauce he makes uses about 10 to 12 ingredients.

Griffin said he only recently got serious about cooking for competitions, and he decided to do so because he wants to open up a food truck in the future.

Griffin cooks on a charcoal grill with applewood added for flavor, while Edwards only uses red oak chips to cook on.

Edwards had red oak wood burning in a burn barrel, and would collect the charred chips from the barrel to put them in his grill.

The fuel tank shape he was cooking on allowed the chicken to turn a golden brown on top because of how the heat travels through it, he said.

But at the end of the day, there are a multitude of different ways to cook meats, and neither man took first place in the competition.

James Jones took first place in the chicken category, while George Smith took first place in the ribs category.

Both men took home a $300 cash prize for their efforts.