Up close and personal with the Colorado BBQ Challenge competitors | SummitDaily.com

Up close and personal with the Colorado BBQ Challenge competitors

Louie Traub
Special to the Daily

Rat Jr. ­ Rat's Woodshack BBQ, Longmont, Colorado

As over 70 vendors and competitors at the Colorado BBQ Challenge grill along Main Street in Frisco Saturday, for one vendor in particular, smoke isn't the only thing in the air. "It's all about the love," said Rat Jr. of Rat's Woodshack BBQ out of Longmont, Colorado.

Rat Jr. has been honing his craft, learning from his father, Rat since he was 10 ­years ­old and pleasing customers at the BBQ Challenge since 2007. The smile on his face peering through the billowing cloud behind the smoker is proof of his passion.

During the rest of the year, Rat Jr. and his father are cruising the Front Range in their food truck, serving up slow­cooked, Texas style BBQ that's made with love.

Scooter Crawford ­ Five Star Catering, Breckenridge, Colorado

For Scooter Crawford of Five Star Catering in Breckenridge, the Colorado BBQ Challenge is a way to get out, meet new people and have a bit of fun while sharing his homemade BBQ sauces.

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"We made a few different kinds of BBQ sauce. We got a raspberry chipotle, coconut curry mango, sweet onion roasted chile," said Crawford, who is attending his sixth Colorado BBQ Challenge. His parents were chefs so he started cooking at 11 years of age, and from then on he jokes he was "doomed into the restaurant business," but admits it's a lot of fun.

Austin Edminsson ­ Golden Toad, Littleton, Colorado

Among the masters of slow, smoked meats at the Colorado BBQ Challenge was a line that ran nearly a block down Main Street in Frisco. It led to rock music, whistles and cowbells piercing through BBQ smoke in the air hovering around inflatable animals and beach balls at Golden Toad.

"You're out here having a good time with your buddies, cooking up good food," said Austin Edminsson who has been with the company for three years.

What pitmaster Todd Jilbert, aka "Toad" is doing at the head of the line around the block is worth waiting for. Golden Toad, out of Littleton, Colorado, does BBQ sauces like their slightly spicy Colorado Red, which is a hybrid of a Texas style sauce and a Carolina vinegar BBQ sauce. Then there's the Toad's Kansas City style whiskey mesquite BBQ sauce, sweetened with brown sugar.

Scott Sherman, Jay Johnson and Mike Stauter ­ PETA BBQ, Broomfield, Colorado

After attending the Colorado BBQ Challenge for the 9th year, PETA BBQ out of Broomfield, Colorado is stepping up their game by trying a new brisket recipe this year, which includes an apricot injection. The balance of sweetness and saltiness, with a touch of awesomeness is sure to put the team in contention for an award at this year's competition.

Having won a handful of awards over the years, the trio of friends, led by Sherman, are in Frisco simply to have a good time. "We're a beer drinking team that does BBQ," said Johnson. They even rent a condo and bring the whole family to make a vacation out of the BBQ Challenge.

After slicing and submitting their brisket to the judges, the team breathes a sigh of relief. "It's the quickest two hours of your life," said Stauter, while fishing a beer out of a cooler and tossing back a fatty, flavorful hunk of brisket.