January 4, 2010 by admin
Mount Dora Barbecue Company wins First place Ribs, and places Top 10 in 3 other categories to win Grand Champion in the FBA Triple Crown Championship Invitational. [Read more]
May 22, 2009 by admin
Mount Dora Bar-B-Que is living high on the hog.
Saturday afternoon, the threemember crew from their namesake hometown near Orlando, Fla., took home the bacon in the fourth annual Boss Hog Cookoff.
They smoked out three dozen teams to win the Georgia state championship title and qualify for a draw in the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational.
But Mount Dora was nearly a no-show at last weekend’s Kansas City Barbeque Society cook-off.
“I almost called and cancelled on Thursday because my brisket didn’t get delivered,” pit master Larry Baker, a contractor and former city councilman, said with a smidgen of disbelief. But as fate would have it, Baker arranged to bum a hunk of prime heifer from his men- tor and competitor, Myron Mixon of Jack’s Old South, and ended up making a run for gold.
Up until the end, last year’s grand champs Jus-Fer-Fun looked like they’d take it all with first place trophies for pork and brisket and a second place in ribs. But a low 22nd in chicken dragged down what would have been an otherwise faultless finish. Across-the-board consistency was the key, and Mount Dora pulled it off with second, third and fourth place finishes in chicken, ribs and pork, and a respectable 12th in brisket. When the points were tallied, they were separated by a threepoint spread.
“I was shocked,” Baker said after the RV was pointed toward home. “We’d had a great time no matter what – but winning sure made that seven-hour drive home a lot shorter.”
The Mount Dora crew is fairly new to the competition cooking scene. Baker, who describes himself as a man who’ll drive 50 miles out of the way for a good barbecue dive, says he’s been experimenting with food since he was big enough to stand on a chair in his grandma’s kitchen. After dozens of classical cooking classes, he turned his sights to barbecue – but couldn’t quite master it. “Sometimes it was good … occasionally it was great … and often it wasn’t worth a damn,” Baker laughed, recalling butts that tasted like old socks.
So when he saw an ad for Mixon’s famous barbeque cooking classes, he signed right on. The next weekend Baker practiced his lesson against 43 teams in Lake City. He walked on with a folding table and a pop-up tent and walked off with an eighth place finish and an expensive hobby.
Before long, he coerced his girlfriend Merry Hadden, a Montessori headmaster, and longtime friend and food photographer Debi Harbin into joining his cause. In their second full year, the crew picked up five Florida wins and decided to try their luck in Georgia after stumbling onto the Boss Hog website.
“When I signed up, I felt like we had a chance because there wasn’t going to be a powerful field,” Baker said reiterating his disbelief that teams traveled to Waynesboro from as far away as Houston. “When we got there, I realized there was a very powerful field.” While luck is always part of the game, the Mount Dora crew says part of their secret is as simple as wood smoke. They hauled in more than 300 pounds of cherry, Georgia peach and Georgia pecan, and fed their grills nearly every stick.
“Barbecue is about wood and smoke,” Baker said. “And smoke needs to be an ingredient just like salt and sugar.”
Now back on the job in Florida, Baker says Waynesboro tops Mt. Dora’s list of places to go back to – and would have even if they’d gone home empty-handed. They said it was the little things that hooked them, like small talk with residents and the classic Boss Hog car that picked them up for a victory lap around the RV circle. They agree it was one of their sweetest wins yet.
“It was so much fun,” Baker said, still reeling. “When we climbed into that car, I leaned over and told the girls “now tell the truth – this is the best day of your life …isn’t it?’”
Mount Dora Bar-B-Que
Mount Dora, FL
Reserve Grand Champion:
Jus-Fer-Fun Cooking Crew
Jus-Fer-Fun Cooking Crew
Jus-Fer-Fun Cooking Crew
Burke’s Big Finishes
‘Boro Boys- 7th ribs
Wastin’ Away – 7th pork
Big “J” and the Butts – 9th
March 21, 2009 by admin
MILLARD K. IVES
CLERMONT –For two consecutive years, Larry Baker’s Mount Dora Bar-B-Que Co. has taken home the trophy in the barbecue competition.
On Saturday, with the assistance of Merry Hadden and Debi Harbin, Baker started cooking — in the pitch dark — before presenting his ribs, pork, brisket and chicken to the judges later in the afternoon.
Baker said virtually every contestant starts off with the same meat, but the key to his success is timing.
“I do everything on the hour,” said the 48-year-old Baker. “It doesn’t make a difference if you start with the best chicken in the world, if you let it cook 10 minutes too long.
Mount Dora Bar-B-Que Co. beat out 30 contestants after scoring the most total points for the best pork, ribs, brisket and chicken — scores that were based on appearance and tenderness as well as taste.
New at this year’s 11th annual Pig on the Pond were racing pigs, a muscle man ripping a phone book in half and an appearance by the one of the world’s fastest men.
The two-day Pig on the Pond started Friday and was held at Waterfront Park in Clermont. The BBQ competition included such eye catching names as Grillin’ Gangsters, Big Poppa, Junkyard Dogs and Skin and Bones, many contestants had elaborate set ups — huge home-made grills, trophies lining up their booths, hanging pig decorations and more.
Asides from Baker’s bottles of the company’s rub lined up on a table, his booth only displayed banners from it being named the Florida BBQ Association’s 2008 Champion during last year’s Pig on the Pond and the title again in January at a cook-off in Okeechobee — that contest rotates among barbecue events.
“We just try and show up,” said Baker, who uses an old-style pit.
Baker, who has been cooking for more than 25 years and took classes at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, N.Y, lists his first passion as French cooking.
Pig on the Pond also included carnival rides, gospel singing, dancing, children shows and various entertainment, arts and craft and a number businesses displaying their products.
Robinson’s Racing Pigs stole the show with their track and pool meets that kept a huge crowd laughing. U.S. track star Tyson Gay, who’s training nearby, made an appearance, while Omar Maldonado, with Chiropractic Life Centers in Clermont, ripped a phone book in half, to loud applause.
But the BBQ contest was the highlight of the event — and eaters had to use pink pig dollars to buy their meals. Last year’s event was marred by bad weather. Organizer Cheryl Fishel said the warm weather this year made for a great event.
“And, we have a lot of great cooks,” she said.
The 31 teams were competing for prizes and the chance to win a slot in the Jack Daniel’s contest in Lynchburg, Tenn. as well as to rack up points for the 2010 championship.
February 9, 2009 by admin
Larry Baker’s Mount Dora Bar-B-Que Company is riding the crest of a wave of successes.
February 9, 2009 by larry
Larry Baker walked the stage four times at Okeechobee this weekend and each time he wanted to get his picture taken.