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Woodstock deli again hosts 'Grill Masters' school

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Woodstock Wine & Delis Gregg Fujino, an award-winning barbecue cook himself, shows off some of the ribs and chicken to be sampled by participants of the judging class there, on March 9th. Woodstock Wine & Deli is usually closed on Sundays. So, people walking along Woodstock Boulevard were curious about the savory scent of smoking meats that was wafting from its parking lot all day on March 9th.

“I think this is the sixth year that we’ve hosted both the cooking and judging classes presented by the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association (PNWBA),” smiled store owner, and master barbecue cook, Gregg Fujino.

The nonprofit PNWBA is an organization dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of barbecue in the Northwest, Fujino explained. “The PNWBA is all about education – by way of cooking classes, judging classes, and competition barbecue cooking events.”

Barbecuing was something that they did for their customers as an appreciation event in the summertime, Fujino said. “Then it blossomed out into barbecue cooking competitions.”

Starting early March 9th – they’d set up canopies to shield the attendees from the morning rain – he, and other award-winning barbecue chefs, were showing five new barbecue cooks the secrets of cooking brisket, pork butt, and chicken.

“We really enjoy seeing the new cooks get their feet wet,” Fujino remarked, in a droll reference to the weather.

Some of this year’s instructors had been students at the class a couple of years ago, he said. “Now, they are winning our regular competitions – sometimes beating me! It’s great to see the students that have come here be successful; it’s really rewarding.”

Inside his deli, the dining area was turned into a classroom for the day, with 30 students lined up behind tables in neat rows taking notes, while Master PNWBA Judge Stacia Norris instructed them on the finer points of judging barbecue.

Certified barbecue judges don’t just take a bite and give a thumbs-up or thumbs down, they learned during the day-long class. There’s much more to it than that. Students learned how to judge an “entry” – from how the box is packed, to the meat’s appearance, aroma, and of course, also its taste. Using a numerical scale, the judges learned how to properly score each of the categories.

But, it wasn’t all lecture and classroom learning that day; the budding judges got to taste the barbecue prepared by the master chefs and new barbecue cooks. There was plenty of barbecue to go around.

Learn more about what makes great barbecue from Fujino next time you stop into his business. Or, visit the PNWBA website: http://www.pnwba.com/.