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Donna Fong receiving Presidents Award,

at Q-Fest 2014 !!!

California BBQ Association History
May 2016
By Donna Fong

 complete article by Donna below


A history of the California BBQ Associations

By Donna Fong

California BBQ Association History
May 2016
By Donna Fong

The beginnings of the California BBQ Association began as a spunky idea in one woman’s head in 1994.
But before I explain how that started, let’s go back a few years and talk about BBQ contests in California because our origins relate back to them.
In 1989, Eva and Hayward Harris were judging at sanctioned KCBS contests outside of the state. There were no sanctioned contests in California. KCBS was formed in 1985, which explains Hayward’s low judge number of 183. Eva’s number is judge #988. In 1992, Hayward and Eva attended the first NBBQA conference in the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas where they met Carolyn and Gary Wells, founders of KCBS. As the story goes, people didn’t pay much attention to Hayward until they ate one of his ribs. After that, Carolyn invited him to become a barbecue judge.
Hayward took a Paul Kirk class in southern California and then took it again in the Pacific Northwest with the famous Judy Anderson of Mad Momma & the Kid. When he took it the second time, Paul Kirk, the Baron of BBQ challenged Hayward to start cooking instead of judging. Within a few years, the Harris’ were competing as Rare Breed but had to do so outside of the state. Any contests they did compete in the state were backyard events.
The Holtville Athletic Club has the longest continuously running barbecue contest beginning in 1991. The Holtville Rib Cook-Off is a backyard event and still running today. But sanctioned contests didn’t arrive until 1993. Two years before this date, Frank Boyer was advertising in the KCBS Bullsheet yearning to connect with other California folks interested in BBQ.
On June 19-20, 1993, California held its first KCBS sanctioned contest in downtown San Jose. The 35 team contest was called “The Best of the Bay BBQ Cookoff” and was associated with the San Jose Symphony. Ads for the contest were published in the KCBS Bullsheet. Carolyn Wells and Ralph Blevins were the KCBS representatives. Back then, they tallied score cards by hand.
Frank Boyer, who had been cooking whole hogs and lambs since 1979, entered the contest as Sweet Time BBQ along with a restaurant owner known as Mr. D’s. The restaurant had an emergency and Frank basically had to cook on his own. And it was there where for the first time, Frank met Ric Gilbert, who was a local spectator. Ric was an accomplished chili and clam chowder cook who was looking to get into barbecue. Frank took GC that day, winning 1st in ribs, 1st in brisket, 1st in pork and 2nd in chicken and made a life-long friend.
In 1994, Hayward and Eva had purchased “Big Bertha” smoker from Charlie Peavey of Ocala, Florida and started competing on the circuit in California. They went to the American Royal that year, as Rare Breed, the first African-American team to compete at the contest. They were rare indeed.
That same year during a BBQ tri-tip cook-off at the Irwindale Speedway, Eva and Hayward Harris met Kathy Murphy. Kathy had been a caterer since 1981 in the Los Angeles area. By 1988, Kathy had trained in Santa Maria and received permission from the Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce to cook “Santa Maria” style tri-tip. Kathy’s 13 year old company was Ranch Hands BBQ and she had a crew of three serving up BBQ at Irwindale. Kathy, Eva and Hayward hit it off and the Haywards invited Kathy to attend the NBBQA National Conference in Grapevine, Texas that year. She accepted.
It was at the NBBQA conference that she was met with “raised eyebrows and loud laughter” when she said she was from California and without a male counterpart. Her quotes from the conversations were, “Yeah, we know what you smoke in California.” And “I didn’t know you could barbecue tofu.” And then someone accused her of making up a cut of meat called tri-tip, saying there was no such thing.
All of that got her pretty mad. Kathy wanted to improve California’s BBQ reputation and she thought starting a barbecue association would do just that. If you started an association, people would learn how to barbecue and would compete in contests. And then they would eventually start beating teams from other parts of the county. Booyah! Our reputation would improve nationally.
In 1995, Kathy returned to the NBBQA conference, now held in Memphis. She requested the contact information of all California members and asked them to meet in the hotel lobby. About twelve members showed up and agreed to form an association in California.
Besides Eva and Hayward Harris, other founding members included Bob Yeats of Windy City Pizza in San Mateo, Donna and George Baroody of Pork Belly Bandits, Melanie Jones and Joe Davidson of Follows Camp and two of Bob’s employees, Roland Cook who worked for Kantor and Yeats and Michael?
They planned to meet again. Most of the members were barbecue restaurant owners in Northern California. The first meeting was at Jeff Erb’s restaurant, Back Forty BBQ in Pleasant Hill, which is still there today. Bob Kantor, of San Francisco’s Memphis Minnie’s agreed to become president and host future meetings. Bob’s friend, Bob Yeats of Windy City Pizza and BBQ in nearby San Mateo also hosted meetings at his restaurant, giving half price discounts for dinner during meetings. Bob and Bob had become friends when they met each other at the American Royal. There were also a few meetings held at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View.
Unlike Bob Yeats who was born in Oklahoma and went to school at the University of Texas, Bob Kantor was a Yankee but wanted to be a southern boy. Bob Kantor was born in New York. In 1970, Bob moved to San Francisco where he attended the California Culinary Academy. He spent the next ten years as a chef in the high-end fine dining sector before becoming enamored with barbecue. Influenced by Mason Steinberg of Old Mill Bar-B-Que of Omaha, he was considered by all accounts as one of the country’s best known Jews who barbecued. He passed away in 2013 but his restaurant continues in San Francisco’s Haight and Ashbury district. It was always one of Bob Kantor’s dream to have a barbecue cook-off in the Presidio, looking down on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Bob Yeats recalls in the early CBBQA meetings how energetic Frank Boyer would be about his competitions. Frank would take tons of meat entry photos and show them in meetings. No surprise there. As restaurant owners, Yeats and Kantor would look at each other and wonder how long they could take look at one box of barbecue after another. They all looked the same to them but apparently not to Frank.
In less than a year, Bob Kantor resigned as president, and Frank Boyer took over from 1995 to 2002. Meetings were still held in northern California on the first Tuesday of the month. Kathy Murphy flew north to attend the meetings as she had a daughter who worked for the airlines.
Frank printed CBBQA newsletters and mailed them to a California mailing list from Jerry Roach of J-R Enterprise Smokers. It was during these early years when BBQ instructors became instrumental in teaching our cooks how to barbecue.
Jerry Roach, a Memphis in May cook, taught his “School of Southern Barbecue” class in Burlingame and also in San Diego for many years. BBQ author, C. Clark “Smoky” Hale and David Klose taught in California.
But more than anyone, Paul Kirk was instrumental, teaching up to three classes a year in California. His “bring your own smoker” classes were held in conjunction with the CBBQA. Paul’s classes would help finance the CBBQA, earning $1-1.5K per class. Paul also supported the PNWBA which got started in 1991. Since the PNWBA is American’s second oldest BBQ organization, Bob Lyons would share sponsorship information with the CBBQA to help us grow.
With the help of many, our members learned how to cook. Some folks like the Haywards learned how to cook from Lynn and Jeff Shivers from Texas or Judy Anderson from Washington. Others, like Gene Goycochea, learned what good barbecue tasted like on business trips to Memphis and on his way back through Texas. Disappointed at his own efforts, he discovered that he was cooking on the wrong pit. So he talked to David Klose and bought a 10,000lb smoker. Folks found a way to buy good equipment and cook good barbecue.
By 1996, Joe Davidson, Melanie Jones and Carolyn Wells worked on designing a series of contests at Follows Camp which Carolyn calls “innovative”. Joe owned Follows Camp (after being a Rolls Royce salesman in Beverly Hills) and Melanie was his son’s wife. The “Go For the Gold” contests were held at Follows camp multiple times a year. Melanie organized the contests. Joe, who was remember very fondly by the members of the CBBQA, passed away in 2002 in a car accident.
By the end of 1996, big contests like the Tropicana National Finals in Las Vegas made it out to the west coast. Folks from all over attended this contest, including Yeats and Kantor who were certified as judges there. Competition barbecue was gaining momentum in the west. During those years, contests were few and far between. Jim Mehl and Frank Boyer were KCBS representatives for a contest in Lake Tahoe called Fire and Ice. Carolyn Wells would frequently travel here to rep our contests.
It was at Follows camp and Pasa Tiempo that Gene Goycochea learned about the CBBQA. Gary Tackett had been competing in contests since 1995 as Tackett’s Portable Cajun Oven. They met at a judging class in 1997. So in 1999, Gene, Gary & Renae Tackett combined together as a team, Out of This World BBQ.
Gene showed up at contests with a semi-truck pulling a 55 foot long trailer with an Ole Hickory restaurant type smoker inside. It must have been quite the site. In 2000, Gene started his own series of contests. These were the Surf and Turf in Imperial Beach, BBQ4Kids in El Cajon, Smart & Final in Pasadena, and the West Coast BBQ Cook-off in the Pasa Tiempo Hotel in Santa Cruz. In September of 1999, Melanie also organized a contest up north in Niles.
In July 1999, twelve members of the CBBQA, formed their own association to focus on the needs of southern California members. Founding members were Eva and Hayward Harris, George Baroody, Mike Moore, Mike Guinagh, Steve Clark, Garry Maines, Gary Tackett, Melanie Jones, Gene Goycochea, Kathy Murphy, and Dan Cannon.
Even though the name of the organization was SCBBQA, there were members and officers representing the entire state. Kathy Murphy was VP South and Jim Mehl, a retired computer programmer from IBM who worked in Silicon Valley, was VP North. Jim helped start the SCBBQA website and eventually became president in 2004.
Frank Boyer remained president of the CBBQA and Dan Cannon of Coyote Road Kill, became president of the SCBBQA for the next two years. Melanie was the secretary/treasurer. Tom Brohamer was the newsletter editor and eventually became president. Joe O’Connell, an international tax attorney wrote the association policies, kept records, and wrote the by-laws of the SCBBQA. Carolyn remember how Joe insisted that KCBS’s definition of chicken as Gallus gallus, which includes Cornish game hen. The IBCA does not recognize Cornish game hen as a valid chicken entry.
The SCBBQA met once a month on the 3rd Saturday at restaurants like the Old Country Buffet in Montclair and the Black Angus in Burbank. Elections for both organizations were printed on the back of the paper newsletters. For the SCBBQA, the ballots were handed out during the November QFest.
Gene worked on the CBBQA website and had a server in his home. By 2000, several members took a KCBS representative training class from John Ross in Filmore, CA. Students included Frank Boyer, Gene Goycochea, Melanie Jones, Eva Harris, Hayward Harris, Roland Rook, Jim Mehl, and Joe O’Connell.
It was at one of Gene’s contests that he first met Brent Walton and introduced Brent to competition barbecue. Brent was a sheet metal fabricator but became really interested in contests. The way Gene tells it, Brent and Kim started cooking and immediately did well. About the same time, two losses in the family meant the end of Gene’s competition life. Gene’s team, Out of This World BBQ, was broken up and team member, Gary Tackett started a new team with Elvin Jiles, West’s Best BBQ team.
In November 2001, Joe O’Connell and Gene Goycochea approached Frank Boyer about merging the two organizations back into the CBBQA. Members agreed it was the right thing to do. SBBQA members were offered one year of free membership to the CBBQA as part of the restructuring deal.
Around 2001 to 2002, the number of association officers expanded. Not only could members become president, treasurer, secretary, they could also be VP of membership, VP of sponsorships, VP of promotions, newsletter editor, ex officio, or ToY chair.
Paper newsletters continued to circulate from April 1999 until May 2002 for the CBBQA. The SCBBQ newsletters were printed from January 1999 to May 2001.
The Team of the Year program was proposed by Don Grissom in 2000, within the SCBBQA organization. Tom Brohamer of BBQ’n Fool won in 2000. Don Grissom of Dueling Bubbas won in 2001 and Dan Cannon of BBQDan won in 2002.
Brent and Kim Walton’s success on the barbecue circuit eventually led to them opening up QN4U restaurant in Clovis, CA. For a very long, QN4U was a standard for good barbecue in California. Teams and judges would commonly drive out to Clovis to taste their barbecue.
Brent became CBBQA president for two years and spent 6 months pushing to get the CBBQA its 501.3 status. He changed the website and stated where the money would be spent. Brent and Grant Ford ensured that enough money was raised at contests to benefits the supported charities. Brent would personally work the PC tent. It was this type of generosity for charities, care for teams and mentorship of new cooks that inspired the Brent Walton award.

Today, many of the original CBBQA and SCBBQA members are still around serving in different capacities. Frank Boyer is known nationally for his BBQ photos at the American Royal since 1993, the Jack Daniels since 1996, Memphis in May since 1996, and the Houston Livestock since 1998. Kathy Murphy no longer owns Ranch Hands but occasionally judges contests in southern California and teaches CBBQI students how to cook tri-tip the right way. She also was the first receive the NBBQA BBQ Heroine award.
Eva and Hayward Harris cook as the Rib Doctor and sell their award winning Rib Doctor barbecue sauce. Ric Gilbert created the CBBQI, continues to cook as Ric’s Righteous Ribs and hosts a backyard event in his home in San Jose. Gene Goycochea has served as a member of the KCBS Board, a KCBS rep and event organizer. Dan Cannon still competes once in a while at contests and organizes a member barbecue get-together at Lake Puddingstone in the winter. Gary Tackett stopped competing as West’s Best BBQ in 2012 but continues judging contests as a master judge along with Elvin Jiles.
The CBBQA owes its beginnings to the challenge that was put before us in 1994, to become respected cooks. Today, that dream has been realized with victories at the American Royal, Sam’s club and KCBS Team of the Year series and throughout the nation on a regular basis. Californians win big contests, sauce competitions, rub competitions, and humanitarian awards. Crowns are placed on our heads and we drive away in a white convertible as a prize for a great cook. We hold checks bigger than our bodies all of the time.
We come in all shapes and sizes, in both sexes and many cultures. We receive perfect scores on a frequent basis. We appear on television regularly. We sell BBQ to America in commercials and excite them with our talent and will power at contests. We organize some of the best contests in the nation. We push the boundaries of barbecue in our contests, our restaurants and our kitchen tables. Thank you to all of the folks who contributed to the success we enjoy today.



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