Santa Barbara Independent BBQ Competition – First Place!

I took home first prize…again!!! But this time, in the professional category.

Read the full article here…Masters of the Grilling Universe by George Yatchisin

Article Excerpt…
More than 100 food-loving folks gathered around the picnic benches of Oak Park last month to witness The Santa Barbara Independent’s fourth annual Sizzling Summer BBQ Contest, which was easily our most exciting and cutthroat cooking competition yet.

Last year’s Sizzling Summer BBQ Contest literally changed Rodrigo Gimenez’s life. Up to that point, he was an architect who liked to cook; after winning the amateur category in 2012 ​— ​with a mixed plate of lavender-wine beef, roast veggie chimichurri chicken, and lemon cream pork flanks ​— ​he became a full-time chef. To claim this year’s pro crown, he pared down that trio to focus on the tender, succulent sirloin cap. “Last year, I barbecued as if I was cooking for friends,” explained Gimenez, who really entered in 2012 to have some fun. “This year, I did feel a bit more pressure. I definitely wanted to win more this year than last.”

To do so, the native of Mendoza, Argentina, designed his Picanha Cuadrada and Potato Pineapple Stack around the picanha, a top-sirloin cap, one of his “most favorite things to eat ​— ​especially when topped with bacon!” To balance the heavier meat with lightness and freshness, he added grilled pineapple and potato, and then topped it with a port-brandy-red-wine sauce because, again, he loves drinking them. Said Rodrigo, “Developing a sauce that incorporates all of their flavors and allows you to taste all three in a single bite is just that much better.” The dish was actually more complicated than he’s letting on, though: The beef was topped with a thin layer of sage “paper,” the pork was actually a bacon vinaigrette, and the reduction sauce also featured carrots, vanilla, and sage.

That’s the level of creativity now going into his new catering business, Rodrigo Gimenez Cocinero, under which he frequently fires up Argentinian asado for wine-country events, hosts pop-up dinners at the Goodland Kitchen, and sells handmade empanadas through the Artisans Market at Williams-Sonoma. “With each meal that I’ve cooked since last year’s competition, I gain confidence in my abilities,” said Gimenez. “Mostly, it makes me happy to know that people really enjoy eating my food.”

His advice to backyard barbecuers: Enjoy the environment that grilling creates. “Being outside around the fire cooking is one of the places where I am most happy because I take in my surroundings, I listen to the meat grilling, I talk with friends and family,” said Gimenez. “In the end, the food becomes secondary, and it is the process of cooking that is the most memorable experience.”