Chefs go at it in Perham Area Cook-off

The competitors in Saturday's sixth annual Perham Area Cook-off were making no "bones" about their work.

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Competing for top honors in ribs and chicken, a parking lot-full of chefs poked, grilled, knifed, brushed, and smoked their meats in the secret recipes which they had devised - some to the regret of their bathroom scales.

Brad Peterson and his cohorts - Randy Lindenfelser and Tom Walter - traveled up from Princeton, Minn. for the competition - hoping for a repeat championship. Their Old Toad BBQ team take in four to five contests each summer.

"We want to be the first to repeat," said Lindenfelser as he watched the group's smokers preparing trays of ribs and chicken.

While the Old Toad team begins preparing their grills at around 8 a.m. according to Lindenfelser, some of the contestants are getting ready as early as 5:30 a.m. on cook-off day.

Lucas Johnson, owner of Papacito's Burritos in Perham and Detroit Lakes, has tasted his share of success in the past five years running his Rico's Ribs booth.

"A little hot and a little sweet," Johnson recommended as he prepared his ribs. "If you can balance those two things you'll be okay."

Most of the booths had plenty of help but Moorhead's Shawn Fuglseth played a lone hand. He did have the help of his 1948 International Harvester refrigerator, which he turned into a smoker. His Woo Hoo BBQ booth did not have the gaudy signs that many of his competitors boasted because he had left it at home.

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"It's fun, it's a blast," Fuglseth said. "Win or lose it really doesn't matter."

The cook-off benefits Perham Athletics and was under the direction of Mike Peterson for the first time this year. Peterson's group supplies all of the meat for the cook-off and expected to clear $4,000-$5,000 from the fundraiser. Peterson said two of the top items on the athletic department's wish list are new starting blocks for the swimmers and better weight training equipment.

By purchasing tickets and making their choices of booths and foods the cook-off patrons become the final judges of who prepared the best ribs and chicken.

By Brian Hansel

Source, images, credits & more information: PerhamFocus