The Greater Chicago Pest Management Alliance (GCPMA) kicked it up a notch at its second annual family picnic with a barbeque cook-off featuring a chef of Hell’s Kitchen and Food Network fame and Harry Bryan, the Nisus Corporation Midwest sales manager known for his barbeque skills.
Held at White Pines Golf Club in Bensenville, Ill., on July 27, the competition was a tasty hit with 160 pest management professionals, manufacturer representatives and family members, despite the unseasonably cool weather.
The “mano-a-mano throw-down” was won by Chef Richard Mancini, executive chef at White Pines Golf Club, “by one point I might add,” said Bryan, who called Mancini a “class act.”
Mancini participated in Hell’s Kitchen season 12 and won a Food Network episode of Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell last year. The “unexpected” 2-foot trophy topped with smoker cooker, presented by Univar Account Executive Bill Dyra, provides some “bragging rights,” smiled Mancini. This was one of his first head-to-head cooking competitions featuring a specific food product.
Mancini, declared the overall champ, won the pork rib competition; Bryan took the beef brisket category.
Serving as judges in the blind taste test were Doug James, Chicago radio personality and actor; Ryan Arens, golf events manager at White Pines Golf Club; and Liam Cunnington, 11-year-old son of Zoecon Professional Products’ Loren Cunnington who won the honor by raffle along with $125.
Bryan and wife, April, drove his three-ton smoker to the Chicago suburb from Powell, Tenn., near Knoxville. He and members of the “pre-party party” started cooking Friday evening and stayed up 48 hours preparing 100 pounds of beef brisket, 85 pounds of pork, and numerous pans of beans and potato salad.
The crowd loved the spread: Bryan cooked enough food for 300 people, but it was “G-O-N-E, gone!”
Other entertainment included a live band, dancing and a dunk tank.
Bryan competes on the barbeque circuit and has towed his cooker to more than 25 states, cooking for pest management companies, distributor open houses, association meetings, even home builder groups. An 18-year Nisus veteran, his industry friends know he’ll “tow my smoker anywhere and everywhere.”
This is the second year Bryan has cooked for the Greater Chicago Pest Management Alliance, which has about 200 member companies.
He met Mancini earlier this year at the golf club while making picnic arrangements with Don Kaufman, GCPMA vice president and Orkin branch manager.
In a “ridiculously boastful” way, Bryan suggested they have a “barbeque throw down.” The rest is history.
Bryan is “grateful to be a part of a great association” and said the cook-off will have people talking for years. “Bugs and barbecue makes for a fun time,” he smiled. — Anne Nagro