Matt Whitaker, the executive director of the Cache Food Pantry, pulls fresh ribs from the smoker on Thursday, February 24, 2022.
LOGAN — The Cache Food Pantry and the America West Heritage Center (AWHC) are joining forces to host a pellet smoking contest this summer. This first annual Cache Smokeout will take place at the Heritage Center on Saturday, July 23 at the American West Heritage Center. It will take place during the Pioneer Day celebration.
“This is the first home barbecue like this in northern Utah,” said Matt Whitaker, event organizer and Cache Food Pantry executive director. “The pit crews register all ready.”
Whitaker connected with a guy who has software for cooking contests, and he agreed to help organize the event. JBS Swift agreed to supply the meat. Each team will smoke ribs and chicken thighs.
“We have $8,000 in prize money. The Grand Champion will win $2,000 and the Reserve Champion will win $1,200,” he said. “We have other cash prizes; second place receives $750, third place receives $500, and fourth place receives $150.
Whitaker is an avid smoker and cooks several racks of ribs each week and donates them to the generous pantry donors. He recently attended the Kansas City Barbeque Society World Invitational held at Fire Lake Arena in Shawnee, OK. And I wanted to bring the excitement back to Cache Valley.
If someone won both the chicken thighs and the ribs contest, they could walk away with $2,000.
“Money raised will go to Cache Food Pantry and AWHC“Whitaker said. “The AWHC will organize other activities for the celebration of Pioneer Days.
It’s the first time Whitaker has tried to do something like this here, so they don’t know how it will turn out, but he’s publicizing it throughout the region.
“We are also accepting sponsor requests,” he said. “We think something like this could work in Cache Valley.”
BBQ Pit Stop manager Jack Carlisle said backyard smokers are becoming really popular and the pellet stove allows people to smoke on their patio.
“Camp Chef is made in Cache Valley and Traeger is based in Salt Lake, which are very popular right now,” he said. “Pellet stoves are replacing the gas grills that were so popular for years.”
Hey Grill Hey is another Utah connection. Suzie Bulloch of St. George has a website dedicated to cooking on a pellet stove with different types of meats and sides. She has created over 450 recipes for thousands of people using smokers.
With the popularity of pellet stove cooking in the backyard, the Cache Smokeout could catch fire.