Last week, the Samanage team gathered from around the world to prepare company plans for the upcoming quarter. Not only was it a tiring few days, but the heat index was 106.
You wouldn’t know either of those things if you looked in the parking lot of the Cary, NC headquarters. Most of the Samanage employees were gathered around their grills, smokers, and slow-cookers to find the answer to the most important question of the week: Who will earn bragging rights in the “Chopped: Samanage Edition” barbecue challenge?
Marc Stitt (Senior Director, Product Marketing) is the resident barbecue expert. He competes professionally all over the country with the Kansas City Barbecue Society, and he decided it was time for some friendly competition.
“Many of our team members have increased their interest in smoking meats. This led to some good-natured trash talking which made me think that it was time to settle the score,” Stitt says.
Following weeks of preparation and planning for the event, six Samanage teams fired up their grills in the parking lot on a Thursday morning. They spent all day cooking ribs, pulled pork, and chicken wings, hoping to impress the judges in a blind taste test.
“I can’t give away all the secrets but patience is a necessity,” says Matt Shanklin, an Account Executive. “Chicken lollipops take a lot of cutting, trimming, and clipping to get them just right.”
The meticulous preparation paid off for Shanklin, who won the competition in an upset over Stitt.
“Shanklin’s performance was nothing short of spectacular,” Stitt says. “I think his wife demands great barbecue, which has forced him to step up his game. His chicken entry was worthy of the professional circuit.”
The true winners of the day were the rest of the team members, who lined up at the office bar/buffet to enjoy the results of all that preparation. A few barbecue secrets were shared as well.
“Try a bunch of different rubs and smoking techniques,” says Chris Greer, whose crowd-pleasing smoked ribs helped earn him third place. “Wrapping your ribs in foil for a couple hours really helps make them tender.”
“Workday or not, there are few things better than BBQ, a few cold beers, and competition with friends,” said a humble Shanklin after his championship. “I think the event was a huge success, and it helps to have an expert like Marc oversee.”
Though Stitt was pleased with the participation and impressed with all of the food, he’s already setting his sights on taking the title back from Shanklin.
“I’m going to bring my team to Cary, I’m going to bring my competition pit, and take every precaution to ensure victory. Might even sneak some rotten eggs into Shanklin’s smoker when he’s not looking.”
If Thursday was any indication, it will be tough to sneak anything past the new Samanage barbecue champion.