You haven’t heard of El Fuego Fiasco restaurant or catering company — because there isn’t one.
This year’s Grand Champion barbecue team is made up of three buddies from Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach who smoke meat in their backyards and for a handful of competitions, hoping to make enough money to pay for the next one. Three others contribute to the competition team off the cookers.
“Everyone asks us, ‘Oh, do you sell your stuff?’” said second-in-command cook Josh Baker. “No, we’re just guys that all have jobs and like getting together and doing barbecue.”
It’s the team’s second year competing at Stagecoach. Last year, they took home third place in ribs.
This year, in addition to winning Grand Champion — which means best overall in pork shoulder, chicken, ribs and brisket — the El Fuego Fiasco crew took home first place for its pork shoulder.
“We’ve been on a high,” Baker said.
It just shows that anyone can make a mean plate of barbecue meat with a little sweat, passion and online research, they said.
With food-grade 55-gallon drums that they’ve transformed into smokers for between $100 and $200, they went up against teams with professional-grade smokers that can cost $10,000, head cook Mike Weiss said.
“We can compete against the Tiger Woods of barbecue,” Weiss said.
The ugly drum smokers, as they’re called in the biz (I’m told), burn slow and could cook for close to 24 hours.
Another memorable detail of the operation is the team’s “loco sauce.” If you’ve had it you know it’s hard to forget. It contains extract from ghost peppers, which pack a million Scoville units.
So the sauce, too, burns slow and long.
Catch them next:
Que’n For Kids competition during the Orange County BBQ Festival June 9 and 10 in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Ribs, Pigs and Watermelons Summer Festival and Pro BBQ Competition August 17-19 in Westminster, Calif.
— Sonya English