Blues, Views & BBQ Recap
These past few years at the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival I had the pleasure of covering it as a news guy, doing my usual reporter thing, furiously snapping photos, taking notes, chatting with vendors, you get the idea. But every year I asked my friends at the CTbites demo tent if they needed help. “Toss me an apron,” I’d say. Or “Are you sure you don’t need a hand?”
I wanted to help for two reasons. One: Because I know and like them. And two: I’m sure if I helped they would feed me. Year after year the demo tent featured top Fairfield County chefs showcasing their skills and handing out free samples of all types of BBQ and grilled meats. Now do you see why I wanted in?
Alas! My wish was granted when I was asked to help out at this year’s 7th Annual BLues, Views & BBQ Fest and the idea of “Will Work for Food” became a reality.
I showed up on the first day of demos, strapped on my fashionable CTbites apron, had my camera at the ready (part of the volunteering), and went to work with plenty of background music from the nearby Levitt Pavilion to spark my rhythm.
Day one demos started off with Mark Hepperman from Saugatuck Craft Butchery who brought along three of the best looking, perfectly marbled prime rib steaks, and explained simple grilling techniques while answering grilling questions asked by the crowd. Like all the demos, a taste of food, steak in this case, followed. Reward for my helping in the set up: A bone with some meat on it, a few slices of steak. I am better than the family dog.
The most pressure of the day came from demo two and chef/owner of Da Pietro’s in Westport, Pietro Scotti. He asked me to grill the bread for his sliced beef tenderloin on top of the crispy bread with a little arugula salad. When an awesome chef asks you to assist and hungry people are waiting, that equals PRESSURE. Luckily I can handle the heat and know my way around a grill. Reward for some prep and grilling bread: Two small plates.
Chef/owner of Match in South Norwalk, Matt Storch followed with his fast and furious, and equally perfect, pork buns that by the looks of the festival attendees’ faces, satisfied them all. We were thrilled when he left behind the rest of the buns and the pork with Asian influences . After that we were treated to grilled pork tenderloin with homemade sweet & spicy peach chutney by Chef Chaz Mazas of Mama’s Boy Southern Table & Refuge and Chef Carlos Baez of The Spread brought some heat with his latest addition to the restaurant’s menu, grilled pork belly with agave syrup, peanuts, and kimchi. Reward for steaming pork buns and keeping utensils and plates stocked: Three pork buns, pork tenderloin, and pork belly.
And that was my first day’s work!
However, I remain a bit sad that I missed Sunday’s lineup that featured hibachi by Paul Teoh of Matsu Sushi, pork belly sliders by Chef Ian Kokkeler of Barcelona Fairfield, grilled salmon by Brian Hayslip of Fjord Fisheries, and bigger than usual plates of smoked pork shoulder, cornbread, slaw and pickles from Walrus & Carpenter’s Chef John Vaast.
Seeing how I couldn’t make it on Sunday, a do-over is on my mind. “Will Work for Food?” Absolutely! So to my friends at CTbites…Save my apron for next year’s Blues, Views & BBQ Fest, I’m coming back.