So I'm sitting at the old computer again trying to figure out how to describe my recent honorarium placed upon me by my fellow BBQ brethren from BBQ school. They pronounced it "Doon-che" and said it was an Italian honor. They even made me a nice cap. You know when you graduate you wear a mortise board (I think), well from BBQ School if you are really, really special, you wear the Cone of Doon-che....which is nice. Sooooo not to brag, but guess who got the Doon-che Award? That's right.....this guy. Don't hate. So anyway, I signed up for not one but two BBQ Schools. One with Jeff P. from Give It to God BBQ and Rub Bagby from Swamp Boys. I just got back from Rub's and Jeff's was in May. First of all, they both were great. Thanks to Keith Fern and Bobby Lankford for putting together the one in Mobile, AL. I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive about my accommodations for several reasons: 1) Section of town was called Little Beirut. Some places brag on the sounds of frogs and crickets at night. Little Beirut...gun fire. I was pretty good a discerning the difference between a cheap Chinese 9 mm and a genuine Russian AK-47. It's a gift. (2) The hotel had what I thought was nice, avaunt gard sidewalk chalk art until I realized the chalk art had been done by the Mobile Police Homicide Investigation Division. (3) It wasn't a fancy banner strung across my adjoining room's door. It was yellow crime scene tape. (4) The room smelled of old mildew and mold. You know the type: You're in a far away land and open some crypt closed about 3,000 years ago sealed with a curse. Next thing you know BOOM!!! The Apocalypse. You know the place. Reason #355 you don't go for the cheap room in an unfamiliar town. With that aside, the class was at a local church. Jeff did a really good job of showing a lot of technique, and we got to practice doing a lot of things as a local grocer had donated a lot of meat. The food we prepared was going to feed the church's congregation Sunday after church which was a great idea. For two days, we learned a lot about how Jeff prepares for competitions, his routine, how he preps BBQ, a good bit about rubs, injections, and marinades, and a lot of good fellowship with some really great people. Thanks Keith for the breakfast and the best patty sausage I've had. I actually dreamed about that sausage and some biscuits. With that done, I left the class feeling like I had really learned a few nice things such as injections, cooking process, and how good competition BBQ tastes. One of the biggest highlights was the dinner cooked by Forrest Dilmore and his famous 'biscuit flip'. Good groceries to say the least. Never mind the flood that ensued. Things learned from Jeff: (1) Practice is always good (2) Never, never, ever turn in opossum even if you leave the paws on for ID purposes (3) Always give Glory to God. Now fast forward to last weekend when I got to go to Swamp Boys BBQ School. Rub is a neat guy and his class is A+ even if I was D- at best. I bragged on my Doon-che status and he just politely smiled obviously intimidated as he said he had never had that award bestowed upon him. Work hard and it will come Rub. Anyway, our class was on a lake in central Florida with great weather. We only got drowned once and had a good breeze. I did learn from my accommodations from Little Beirut and upgraded myself somewhat. No blood stains on floor, no questionable hourly rates, and no creepy crypt smell. Nice huh? Anyway, Rub took a similar approach as he presented the basics as he does/did them. He was very polite and patient with my questions such as, "So, opossum doesn't count as a chicken entry right?" Rub covered it all and fed us an outstanding supper on the first night. We had smoked prime rib, green beans, roasted potatoes, rolls, a LOT of desserts, and a good time hanging out. I was fortunate to meet some really nice folks at both classes. The next day, it was more learning and getting to sample some really good 'Q. As in Jeff's class, we went over box preparation for both FBA and KCBS. I will say this about both schools, they reinforced what I had hoped. I had hoped that after all this time I was at least on the right track, and I found out I was. There are some major tweaks I need to make, but both Jeff and Rub showed me I can make it my own and still do well. I just have to polish up things a bit and have greater attention to detail. The devil is in the details, and it is certainly true of good BBQ. With all that said, would I do the two classes over? In a heart beat. Would I recommend either class to another person? Most certainly without a doubt. Would I stay some place other than Little Beirut? Maybe. I do love the smell of cordite and the police sirens made a sort of white noise and covered the screams and gun fire. If you are pretty new to BBQ and want to do well, I STRONGLY encourage you to take a good class early on in your competition career. There are a lot of them out there, and you can make back your money by getting 1st place in just one category. Trust me, I wish I had taken one long ago. Y'all take care, and remember this, "No matter what goes on in this world, God's got this." Riley says hello.