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Savage Barbecue compete with NZ’s finest

Tuesday 29 March 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Local, National

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Savage Barbecue compete with NZ’s finest
Tom McDonald and Taua Elisa at the BBQ competition in New Zealand. SUPPLIED/ 22032809

Cook Islands barbecue team, “Savage Barbecue” competed next to Blood Sweat and Beers, Coal Kids and the Four Sauceman, in the Tai Tokerau Low and Slow in Northland New Zealand.

The barbecue competition was held over the weekend and had 23 teams competing.

Savage BBQ team member, Tom McDonald said his team only managed to get a couple of hours of sleep between the days the competition was on.

“The comp was just an amazing opportunity that definitely didn’t disappoint,” McDonald said.

“The learnings that we gained as a team was huge, working together under pressure was a good test but the team did really well.

“You have to really up your game, it’s not just throwing meat on a grill and serving it straight up, you have to kind of think outside the square and do a bit of practice.”

Each piece of meat was judged out of 60 points –10 points went to appearance, 20 to texture and the remaining 30 went to taste.

Pork belly, lamb, beef cheeks, pulled pork, chicken, beef brisket and pork ribs were all cuts of meat the team worked with.

Every dish needed to be plated and ready within 10 minutes either side of the judging time. 

McDonald said it was “very inspiring” seeing what was done with the meat.

“It is really a step up, it’s above and beyond restaurant quality food.”

McDonald said he tried another team’s pork belly that was “so soft and tender, it was a bit like the marshmallow in your pavlova”.

“It was absolutely next level stuff, it wasn’t just a bit of meat with some crackle on… it’s that next level eating experience.”

McDonald said each piece of meat needed to have multiple levels of flavour.

“You can’t just put a piece of chicken with some barbeque sauce up, it’s just not even in the same stratosphere.”

Savage Barbecue, which included team members Taua Elisa and Cameron Leach, as well as McDonald, was the only international team at the competition.

McDonald said a major highlight of the event was when their lamb cutlets came in eighth place.

“Which is huge, everyone there was just in awe, most teams don’t get a mention in their first competition so everyone there was really stoked for us.”

He said getting the team name called out was an “absolute highlight”.

“The barbecue community here is supportive, it’s fiercely competitive and yet, everyone is doing what they can to help each other.

“That real communal atmosphere, it’s really addictive and we’re looking forward to coming back for the next one.”

A group from the competition is now planning to come over for the second Cook Islands Pitt Masters event that will be held at the end of June this year.

Teammate Elisa also said he had a ball at the competition and was looking forward to sharing some tricks he learnt to Rarotonga’s fellow pit masters.

Mcdonald thanked the team’s supporters and family.