Elizabeth McKee – “Northwest Barbee-Q Babe”

For me the smell of barbecue smoke has been always been the aroma of home. Twenty-two years ago, five years before I was born, my father began an annual backyard barbecue “event” which he calls “The Jackson Fresh Air Barbecue Cook-Off and Feed.” One of its many rules requires that each participant must contribute a dish to the annual event in one of the four categories Main Dish, Side Dish, Dessert, and “Kids’ Choice.” Since age four, I’ve been cooking and entering my own dishes and at age six won my first “honorable mention.” Since then I have accumulated awards in all four categories. Finally, two years ago, I was lucky enough to be given my own grill- a rusty used Weber. It was in bad condition, but to me it was what I had always wanted. It desperately needed a new coat of paint; I searched in vain for pink stove paint, but had to settle for silver. With a fresh coat of silver paint and the stenciled words, “You Go Grill” and “Barbie-Q” on its lid, I was set for that year’s “Jackson” competition. As you can imagine, not only was my fancy grill a hit, but my entry of five pounds of barbecued bacon was also the talk of that year’s event.

elizabeth mckeeAt age 10, I won my first main dish “Jackson Trophy”, competing against more than 15 adults, with my dish of Cornish Game Hens. In total, I have won trophies in all four categories seven times in the past ten years. My winning dishes have included Chicken Shish Kebabs, Steak, Macaroni and Cheese, and Four-Fruit Pie.

For me, barbecuing is like a competitive sport. I love to cook and making new dishes on a grill is very exciting. I am the only 17 year old girl I know who has her own grill and loves to use it. I can’t wait until next year’s “Jackson”!