Secret service |

Secret service

Lu Snyder

FRISCO – One of the most important ingredients in a barbecue challenge is a poker face.

There seems to be a perception that competitors here at the Colorado Barbecue Challenge keep their secrets under lock and key. But D.W. Roberts, of the Half Fast Five team, shared the secret to his smoked armadillo recipe without hesitation.

“Every armadillo is born dead by the side of the road,” the Fort Smith, Ark., cook said. “You try to count the number of flies – the less flies, the fresher.”

No sooner had he spoken than a fellow competitor came by and warned not to believe Roberts – he never tells the truth.

When asked again for one of his secrets, Roberts said, “It doesn’t make any difference – nobody can cook the same way anyway. The secret to barbecue is patience and dedication.”

Though Roberts was far from forthcoming with the secret to his recipe, Joe Hampton of the Hogasm team from Monument said competitors have shared secrets with him over the years – just not all of them.

“They tell you some of their secrets, and then you add some of your secrets,” Hampton said.

One of Hampton’s secrets is to buy his meat one to two weeks early – to let it age.

He wouldn’t offer more than that.

Down the row from him, Mark Born, a.k.a. Grandpa Cheese, of The Heat is On from Red Wing, Minn., was busy smoking salmon for his miscellaneous entry.

Born said the secret to barbecue is not in the ingredients – it’s in the technique.

His favorite tip for good barbecue is this: “You’ve got to drink plenty of fluids to keep the meat moist – preferably adult beverages.”

When another competitor advised, “You can believe half of what you see and none of what you hear,” Born chuckled and nodded in agreement.

Doug Pierce of Summit Cove said he uses “a lot of brown sugar, salt, garlic salt, onion powder and some secret ingredients we can’t tell you about – we’d have to kill you.”

Pierce’s Smokin’ Joes Hawaiian Cookers teammate, Doug Schwartz of Silverthorne, said there isn’t even a recipe to share.

“Barbecue is something you do by feel,” he said. “You either have it or you don’t.”

Aside from their secrets, the cooks at Frisco’s annual barbecue challenge seemed to have humor as their common ingredient.

Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or

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