by Susan Ellis
Wednesday night at the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is Family & Friends Night — a night to entertain guests before things get heated in the following days' competition.
For Stig Pedersen of the Danish National BBQ Team, pictured left with Memphis team member Jim Boland, it's a chance to fly the flag.
"Tomorrow," he says, "we try to be American."
By American, Stig means barbecue. "We don't have anything like this in Europe at all," he says.
The team travels the world competing and has a sponsorship with Weber grills (the best selling grill in Denmark, according to Stig). At last year's Barbecue Fest, they placed third in the exotics category and seventh in hot wings.
But back to tonight ... "The theme is love," says Stig, pointing to a bunch of heart-shaped balloons decorating the tent. More precisely, it's "From Denmark with Love."
Each guest is presented with a tray of five beautifully presented samplings. Each course is explained by one of the 11 Danish team members.
Up first is Passion for Salmon.
The salmon has been marinated in passion fruit and is served with fennel salad and passion fruit pearls.
Sweet Burning Love is the team's take on a traditional Danish dish.
It's mashed potatoes topped with pulled pork and garnished with chives, beets, and crispy rosemary rye bread.
Then there's My Italian Lover.
This generous scallop sits atop lemon risotto.
Romeo and Juliet is a favorite among guests.
The shrimp represents the female, the sirloin the male, says Stig. The pair is dressed with an apple-horseradish cream.
Finally, it's Bleeding Love Affair.
This is chocolate cake with strawberries and vanilla ice cream. It comes with a squeezer filled with strawberry puree for drizzling.
Jim Boland notes that even the bread and cake elements of these dishes were prepped on the grill.
"We're formidable cooks," he says. "Eat this and you'll say that Jim Boland wasn't lying about that formidable cook stuff."