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October 13, 2013 / theyellowbungalowla

special weekend post: a whole lotta team spirit…

Granville Island. Vancouver, BC.

Granville Island. Vancouver, BC.

The Yellow Bungalow is spending some time in Vancouver, Canada. Each Thursday, I’ll be sharing a more personal account of my adventures there. Join me as I discover this delicious city!

As I begin this post, the conclusion to the riveting story about our adventurous first weekend in Vancouver, I have a confession to share: I took no photos – not even one – of the rib-off, our apple pies, anything. I am so sorry. Trust me, I’m more devastated by this than you are.

As a constellation prize, I’ll regale you with this photo of Granville Island!

Sunday began early as each couple scurried around town to pick up more supplies.  James and I went over to Granville Island again to pick up fresh buns and yes, more donuts.  We brought a “Kari dozen” back to our friends’ place (I intend to get a dozen but somehow always end up with more) to share sugary inspiration with our fellow teammates. Our large to-list included smoking and braising 6 more racks of ribs, assembling 75 hand pies (by hand) and frying them, then glazing the pies and stuffing them into homemade envelopes which we cut from wax paper. In keeping with our “Happy Meal” theme, the toys were to be divided up and placed into individual bags. Everything: the ribs, pies, bags, toys, and supplies, plus a fresh order of McDonald’s french fries, had to be at the park by 3pm.

On the drive over to the park, excitement filled the car: What was it going to be like? What were the other teams making? Surely no one came up with an idea as original as ours, right? We were confident in our idea, confident that our concept was well-planned and would be well-executed. Up to this point all the elements – the ribs, the BBQ sauce, the fresh buns, the secret sauce, the crunchy pickles – were all really delicious on their own, and had been really delicious when combined into our own version of the “McRib Slider.” The only questions left were: will our slider taste as good when we make it for the rest of the teams? And most importantly, will it be good enough to win?

We pulled up to the park and saw a large gathering of tables arranged in a circle, with grills peppering the space in between the tables. Then we began to notice a theme: the other teams had brought their team spirit and put it on display for everyone to see. Some of the teams were dressed in coordinating t-shirts while others had gone further and created costumes. Every table was decorated with custom-made signage, tablecloths, props, or all of the above.

Except for us.

Worried looks were exchanged, followed by encouraging statements like “we have the best tasting ribs,” our idea really is the coolest,” and “we put all of our time and effort into the food, and it will show.” Each of us tried to convince the others that our cool concept and delicious food would make up for our bare table and sad, handwritten sign.

We quickly shook off our doubts and got to work: some of us “sauced” the ribs and tended the grill while others began slicing the buns and creating an assembly line. We worked together like a well-oiled machine. Over the past few days, we had spent a fair amount of time together in preparation for this moment, and now it was time to perform. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in busy kitchens, it’s worth sharing that this group found a comfortable rhythm almost immediately, like a crew that had been cooking together for years.

We served our ribs in the first heat, as the competition was so large that we had to be broken up into two groups in order for there to be enough space on the grills. Yes, you may be picking up on theme here: the rib-off is serious business. One by one, the teams began taking their ribs off the grill and sharing them with others. Some walked around to share their creations; others manned their tables and allowed contestants to come to them, creating a happy and chaotic scene.

The competition continued through the second of heat of teams, with more tasting and discussing and sharing of stories, and lots and lots of ribs. Ballots were passed around, collected and counted. Everyone gathered in the middle of the circle, eagerly awaiting the results. One by one, winners were announced: third place, second place, then first place. The winner was a team who prepared a lamb rib, which I confess I didn’t even get to taste! And then the awards continued, with awards for best table decor, best team spirit, then the award for rookie of the year. Laughs and cheers were exchanged as our team was named the rookie of the year. The awards continued on as almost every team was recognized, meaning that everyone who competed went home with an award and a belly full of yummy food.

Although there might have been a teensy-weensy feeling of disappointment that we didn’t win (or even place!) in the rib-off, we did walk away from the experience with one heck of a story. What a weekend we had, filled with good clean (if not sometimes sticky) fun, delicious adventure, and lots and lots of dirty dishes. Our team might have had a bare table and non-existent sign, but our team spirit was strong, even if we were the only ones who experienced it.

The rib off was founded by our friend Ben, a lovely man who has been known to wear a chef’s apron from time to time. We owe him a big thank you for creating such a delicious and spirited competition, making our first weekend in Vancouver a truly memorable one.

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