Originally published on Eater.com
At three o'clock Sunday morning, assistant pitmaster Geff Hoekman wakes up in the parking lot of the Mill Casino in Coos Bay, Oregon. He steps out of the Uff-Da-Q team cargo trailer into the chilled coastal night air, heavy with smoke and the smells of cooking meat from 45 barbecue teams. He tests his smoker to make sure the fuel is burning evenly, consulting thermometer probes stuck deep in the meat inside in search of hot and cold spots. He and his team drove eight hours and spent $1,000 to get here, and on the line is $4,000, plus all-important bragging rights. He'll wake up every 45 minutes to repeat the ritual until dawn.
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