The heat of a Virginia summer can’t top the heat of competition.
That’s why Nat Elliott and Adam Herman barely slept Saturday night and stood over their Big Green Egg as temperatures crossed 90 degrees Sunday at Jamestown.
The pair have been friends for a decade and said they share a passion for barbecuing. They joined forces on team Once Bitten and took home some hardware at the inaugural Williamsburg Pro-Am BBQ Cook Off.
They set up their canopy, Big Green Egg and fold-up table around 4 p.m. Saturday at Jamestown Beach Event Park, and set the meats to low heat. They turned their food in to a panel of judges Sunday just before 2 p.m.
Neither Elliott nor Herman got much sleep in between. Their recipe called for spritzing their pork with apple juice every half hour — even through the night.
“We were here babysitting that pork,” Elliott said.
Elliott grabbed a bit of sleep between spritzings in a minivan, and Herman found intermittent rest in his hammock.
No pain, no gain — and the pair said they were happy to sacrifice a night’s sleep to take home their first place trophies for best pork and best chicken in the amateur barbecue category. They also placed second for their ribs among the five amateur teams that entered.
Next year, “They need to start awarding an overall winner,” Elliott quipped.
The event was coordinated by the Rotary Club of the Historic Triangle and spearheaded by member Brad Anderson. Nine professional barbecue purveyors also competed against one another, with Old City BBQ taking home the top trophy.
“I thought Brad and his team did an awesome job,” Old City owner Vernon Geddy IV said. “First time events are always hard but the community turned out. I’m very much looking forward to defending our crown.”
For Anderson, the cook-off was about giving the amateurs a chance to showcase their talents.
“I wanted the competition to be for the people who don’t compete,” Anderson said.
Once Bitten might be amateurs on the competitive circuit, but they said they’re no strangers to grilling.
“We do a lot of backyard cooking,” Herman said.
While they were happy to take home first place in two categories, they said they were happier to support 3e Restoration, a nonprofit who received proceeds from the cook-off.
Although Elliott and Herman said they put love and sacrifice into achieving their victories, it was all in fun.
“As long as we were happy with our efforts we didn’t care if we were first, second or fifth,” Elliott said.
They also made friends with the other amateur competitors through their 24 hours on-site. One neighbor even lent them a generator so they could run a fan to keep cool.
“Everyone was super neighborly and it was really cool,” Elliott said. “We would’ve had no fan if it weren’t for those guys.”
“That was just the spirit of things this weekend.”