WASILLA — Four chefs from across the Valley tested their skills on the grill at the second annual Band of Brothers BBQ Throwdown at the Menard Sports Center, an event in conjunction with the city of Wasilla’s Summerfest activities.

“Everyone had really good stuff. It was very impressive,” event co-founder Jason Parson said.

Creativity, techniques and love for good food was on full display as each team busily grilled their chicken, seafood and steak creations. When it was all over, the chefs were quick to laugh and joke with each other, exchanging tips with each other.

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“See? That’s what it’s all about,” Parson said.

There were winners for each category, with an overall winner who took home a brand new grill. Mike Michaud won this year’s competition.

“This was a lot of fun,” Michaud said.

Michaud said it was his first time entering an official BBQ completion. He said that someone from church knew that he liked to cook and suggested that he give this event a shot.

“It sounded like a good time,” Michaud said.

For the steak portion of the contest, Michaud prepared bacon wrapped moose bites. He said that he marinated them with brown sugar, cinnamon, Sriracha, soy source and vinegar for about 30 hours. He said that he serves them on the rare side since moose meat is so lean and the vinegar helps break down game meat.

“I love to serve wild game to folks,” Michaud said. “If I had a signature dish, I’d probably say this is one of them.”

Michaud said that he makes these moose bites for holidays and special occasions. He said it’s one of his go-to dishes and many of his friends have requested it. He said that he’s always enjoyed cooking and the joy of cooking is best enjoyed when it’s cooking for someone else.

“I think it’s one of those special gifts you get to share with someone. You get to sit around a meal with a couple friends and family and share a little bit of life with one another… Just something else to hang out and talk over and spend some time chewing,” Michaud said.

This event is an annual coalition between the Mat-Su chapter of the Alaska BBQ Association, Big J’s BBQ and Catering and the Band of Brothers men’s mentor and support group.

Parson and his wife Heather own and operate Big J’s BBQ and Catering. They also helped establish the Mat-Su chapter of the Alaska BBQ Association.

Jason said they host the annual Alaska BBQ Competition at the Houston Founders Day celebration in August.

“No one was doing it around here,” Jason said.

Jason said the Band of Brothers competition is more laid back with no formal rules other than preparing the three different meats. The Alaska BBQ Competition on the other hand is way more competitive and requires more finesse. He said that winners of that competition get a shot at entering the American Royal World Series of Barbecue.

Jason said that it’s good to have the smaller and more laid back competition at the Menard to help encourage first time competitors. He said it’s an effective training ground and great introduction to the competitive BBQ world.

Like Michaud, this was Dustin Heger’s first time entering an official BBQ competition. His wife and kids helped him with this grilled creations.

“It’s a group effort for sure,” Heger said.

Heger said that he’s always had a knack for cooking and loves to see people’s smiles when they like what he made.

He said that he stepped up his cooking about three years ago; and now, he’s always on the internet looking for new recipes and techniques. He said that God gives people certain gifts to use in their lives.

“I’m out here using it. I’m just doing God wants me to,” Heger said.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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