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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Two Cowboys are Pulling Some Pork with No Sleep at Porkapalooza in Edmonton, Alberta

Father's Day


You are a Dad. Where would you like to be on Father's Day?

There is a happy place for the Cowboys on any given day. It is right next to a cooking fire, with a cold beverage in hand, surrounded by our favourite people. It doesn't matter what day of the year it is, the weather, or what we are supposed to be cooking and eating. Simply, there is no fun in cooking or drinking alone. We treasure barbecuing, braai or merely preparing and sharing food. This ancient social ritual and tradition come naturally to us. 

When it is Father's Day, the one day we as fathers can choose what it is we want to do, then it is only logical for us to look for the biggest celebration we can find of our primal right of passageDuring 24 hours, we want to congregate with well-lubricated bacon and smoke-reeking fellow devotees around open fires, and our favourite cooking machines. These are folks, that know what it takes to patiently savour every moment tenderizing Pork Butts, melting Briskets and crisping Pork Ribs. 

It is a bonus if we can also have our families with us on the day. That is why we salute Alberta Pork and Porkapalooza's organizers for making our Father's Day an extra special day for us this year. We attended our first ever Porkapalooza, which included all the above, and we lived to tell the story.

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 


Porkapalooza Ep1


Porkapalooza Ep2

DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Porkapalooza


The festival was a free two-day event that celebrated all things BBQ with one of Canada's largest KCBS sanctioned BBQ competitions. Porkapalooza is one of four Alberta Cup BBQ competitions taking place year.

Anyone was welcome to attend (even the Vegans), and it included plenty of activities for families and food lovers to enjoy. Guests were invited to check out guided tours of the competition area and cooking demonstrations from professional chefs. While the parents submerged themselves into the BBQ underworld, the kiddies were kept busy in a play area and a Kids’ Zone.

The competition featured over $15,000 in prize money with almost fifty teams vying for the prize money. It also included a chef’s challenge and special young chef event.

The festival is organized by the Porkapalooza BBQ Festival Society, a non-profit organization, with generous financial support from Alberta Pork and other amazing sponsors.

Observations


Everyone in Western Canada BBQ land has their own reasons why Porkapalooza is the highlight on their annual calendar. For many, it is a chance to learn, catch up with friends, hang out with mates, be serious about cooking, have fun, or compete to win. Vendors bring their latest BBQ gadgets to try, and producers showcase their meat, sauces and other ingredients. Teams compete to validate their skills, test their equipment, eat good food, and generally solicit favour with the KCBS gods.

We are glad that we had a chance to be part of Porkapalooza 2019. Even though we've been hanging around the Alberta smokers for a few years now, we could never fit this pinnacle event into the calendar. We are glad we finally did.

We are also glad we got to know more of, and about, the people passionate about BBQ. We are thankful for the new friendships and appreciate the support they've shown for the Cowboys. We feel like we succeeded in getting a seat at the smoker!

Enjoy the highlights of the event as we introduce you to a few of our new BBQ friends and catch up with others. Sincere thanks to Darcy and Porkapalooza that made it possible for us to be there. We look forward to seeing you all back in 2020. Who knows, maybe the Cowboys will compete and win a few prizes next year. Maybe we should also throw a hat in the ring...

Hendrik
Cooking Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Photos


Hot Hot Hot

Love Affair

Happy Man!

Wors Cowboy

Precision!

Two Cowboys Sinks a Put for the Canmore and Area Healthcare Foundation in Canmore, Alberta

More Than Expected


Communities are defined by how well its people take care of each other. However, we don't always appreciate or is aware of who these "caretakers" are that we rely on so leisurely. 

In our "modern world", we've become so far removed from the people that make our civilized lives possible that we no longer appreciate who they are, and what they do. How well do you know your neighbour? Do you know the name of the kid behind the coffee machine that served your Espresso this morning, or your fries for your poutine last night? Dare you ask and care about how your pharmacist's day is going?

Let's make it serious. Do you know who paid for the heart monitor used when your wife was at the hospital's emergency room? Who bought the chair in the waiting room you slept on outside the maternity ward while waiting for your son to be born? What is the name of the Doctor who treated your daughter when she fell off her bicycle, on her way back from school?



DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Community for Community


We go through our days often unaware of the people behind the scenes that make a difference to our lives. Sages are touching us and shaping our every day, positively. We will never meet them.

It is easy to take the little things for granted. Marriages and friendships fall apart when we no longer pay attention to the value of what is often considered trivial. Relationships suffer when we stop saying "good morning" or forget to ask, "How was your day, my love?". In the same way, it is even easier to just assume that someone else is taking care of the big things. Our roads, water, hospitals, schools, sanitation and our safety. Isn't it is the Government's job? People are getting paid to do it. I pay taxes, that is why it is there. That is why I am entitled to it.

Herein lies the problem. Government, our taxes, and public servants don't always take care of things. It becomes quite evident when the system breaks down. The world is full of examples where bureaucracies misbehave, fall apart, or abuse their role with catastrophic consequences for the societies they are meant to serve.

In South Africa people in towns are no longer safe, no longer have clean drinking water or electricity. Municipalities no longer remove garbage and streets and sidewalks haven't been maintained in years. The "system" fell apart. Public servants became more interested in serving their own bank balances and exorbitant mortgages, than serving the people that are funding their purpose and existence.

With towns in peril, local community members came together to take care of each other. Neighbours are now patrolling streets and keeping each other safe. Areas are generating their own electricity and neighbours are collecting each other's garbage. People are taking care of each other. They know who is making their town livable and they take responsibility for each other.

Canmore Community


In Canada, we are fortunate to have public healthcare. There is a massive system of bureaucracy somewhere in Edmonton, Vancouver or Toronto, with Billions of Dollars responsible for being there when we get sick or have a health emergency. We assume that the Government fits the bill for our much needed and essential health services. We certainly pay a fair chunk of our income in taxes with the belief that our public servants have our best interest at heart and will be there when we need it most.

However, there are cases when our system fails us, and much-needed resources are prioritized elsewhere. This is when the luxury of leaving our salvation to someone else costs us personally and our community in much-needed services or resources. It simply leaves us with two tasks. To put pressure on the health care system to prioritize resources our way, and coming together as a community to take on the responsibility of taking care of each other.

The Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation is a community organization that is tasked with these two crucial asks for the people of Canmore, Alberta. Their mission as a community-initiated organization is to obtain and provide charitable financial resources for the continuing improvement of the health facilities and services of the Canmore General Hospital. They encourage philanthropy and guard these financial resources to benefit the community's health needs.  It is the people of Canmore taking care of each other where the public health services don't meet requirements or fall short.

Observations


Soulafa Al-Abbasi invited the Cowboys to be part of this year's Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation's annual charity golf fundraiser. The goal was to have fun, entice more charitable giving, and more importantly, to tell the story of the Foundation's existence and the vital work they do.

We were residents of Canmore for eleven years. All this time, we used the Canmore Hospital and its facilities not knowing about the Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation. We've always assumed that thanks to generous public funding through our taxes, of Alberta Health Services, that Canmore has an excellent healthcare facility. Now we know that we also benefitted from the work of the Foundation. More importantly, we benefitted from the charitable contributions of our neighbours towards access to better healthcare.

Every resident of Canmore is likely to come in contact with the Canmore Hospital sometime during their lives. Here is the ask, when you know that the hospital is in your future. Don't you want to be sure that the Canmore Hospital will be ready and able to treat you, as you would like to be treated when you need it most?

If you do, then make the Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation part of your charitable contribution. If it is not a monetary contribution, give your time. You will get back much more than you give thanks to your neighbour, who is also contributing for your collective benefit. This is the community looking after each other, in its purest and basic form.

We thank Soulafa and the Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation for the opportunity to share this positive story. We thank them more for the heart monitor they bought for my wife to use when she was in the Hospital's Emergency Room on Friday, 20 July 2019.

It reminds me of a sign I once saw on the wall at one of our best clients. It said, "When you learn, teach. When you get, give." We implore you to give generously!

Hendrik
Canmore Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Photos


Perfect Day

Sinking a Put

Canmore

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Good Food is Food You Cook Yourself - BBQ and Grilling is as Basic and Easy as it Comes in Alberta, Canada

What You Are Eating


"Fast food" is everywhere. It means, unfortunately, that bad food is too. 

Because it is easy to get cooked food fast, many people are forgetting how to prepare it themselves and are probably unaware of what they are really eating. I know this is a gross generalization. It may upset some people. These may be the very people that never paid attention to how grandma boiled potatoes or pulled a roast chicken from the oven. I bet they can't even fry an egg.

There is a whole generation of Millenials that think milk comes from a factory and burgers should be made in laboratories. Most of what they regularly consume comes from an oil fryer, and they have their local restaurants, and food establishments on speed-dial through technology like "Skip the Dishes" and "Uber-Eats". No wonder they gravitate towards veganism! They are unlikely to be eating enough good food.

Here is the revelation. Whatever you order from a restaurant is probably sub-standard. You can buy better at the supermarket, cook it yourself, and it will ultimately taste better, and perhaps be even cheaper. By cooking for yourself, you may learn something. You will definitely also make a few friends along the way when you also share your work with those around you. 

If you don't cook your own food, you are probably not eating well. Let's take a closer look at the economics of a food establishment in today's world.

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 


Heritage Heat Ep1

Alberta BBQ Ep2


DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Buy vs. Cook


This is the scenario. It is a case that will probably be out of reach for most people. However, it will put in context what good restaurant food may look like. What will be a fair price at an upmarket downtown establishment, when we order a 450g rib steak, scalloped potatoes, another green vegetable and a salad?

Without the trimmings, side dishes and drinks, and excluding tip and tax, the steak alone will probably set you back around CAD$45 - CAD$50. How did they get to this price? Consider that you have the cost of the slab of beef, the skill of the chef/cook, some seasoning, the overhead of the facility and the margin built in as cost to the price of the meal?

According to "Forbes" magazine, the average gross profit margin for a fine-dining restaurant is around 60% with a food cost percentage between 38% to 42%. Because we are looking a premium piece of produce, there is a good chance that the portion of meat that is served in this scenario set the restaurant back around $21.

Remember that the meat is the star of the meal, and clearly, it is the most expensive part of what is served, so everything else should contribute to pay the rent and wages. The potatoes, vegetables, salad, wine, etc. must deliver substantially better margin than the 60% (charged over and above in this case).

Here is the surprise. The price the consumer is willing to pay ultimately determines the profit a restaurant can squeeze out of a meal. If you and I are eager to slap down $50 for a steak, then a good restaurant will creatively engineer their food and overhead costs to maximize the return from that $50 of wallet spend, without diminishing their brand or upsetting customers with a sub-par experience.

The question is, what can they get away with?

This is where creativity starts in the restaurant business. Either they have a heck of a deal to get prime produce really affordable (because they buy vast quantities, know the farmer, grow their own beef, blah, blah, blah, or let's just say it is where the cook/chef's talent come to shine. They likely take an average (or below-average) cut and dress it up to be served as a prime cut for a top dollar.

Now, think what you get served at a fast food restaurant. Where is the margin coming from in a $10 Happy Meal? Not so happy anymore, are we? No wonder, they try their best to obscure what you are really eating from the fryer.

You can cook for yourself. Visit the grocer or butcher and buy a prime piece of meat. Drop it on a hot grill for 4 minutes a side. Slap it with some garlic butter and a little S&P and another couple of minutes in the oven. See how that compares to your $50 barely adequate rip-off restaurant steak.

I cannot fathom why I would choose the restaurant's steak over my own unless I have money to burn or masochistically feel like tendering for a round of prime indigestion. The point is, you may ultimately spend the same money if you want to (if you pick the 90-day, dry-aged, prime cut that is actually the 90-day, dry-aged, prime cut). However, you will be eating better, because you know what you're cooking, and you have no incentive to cheat yourself out of a perfect meal.

Which brings us to barbeque and grilling.

Observations


We cannot wait for the BBQ season to start. Granted, we BBQ, grill and cook year-round. We are die-hard braai boere from South Africa. Before we came to Canada, we didn't know there was another way to prepare food!

The good thing about BBQ season is that there is a season for it. As with most things in Northern America, there is no half-measure. It is done with complete commitment, enthusiasm and dedication. Rain, snow or shine, the cookers will be running with brisket, pork, sausage, chicken and for the really adventurous they even do baked cheesecake, bread, and desserts, in what is really just a big woodfired oven.

The best part of the BBQ season is that you get to do something primal with good friends. You gather around a fire and prepare food as it was done for thousands of years. It is where every cooking adventure should start and where it ultimately provides one with better eating and a better quality of life.

If you cook your own food and do so with friends, you will be a better person. You will enjoy life more and likely to be happier and healthier. This is the Two Cowboys guarantee.

Come along. We'll show you how we do it.


Hendrik
Cooking Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Photos


Pork Chop

Steaks

Original

Beast

Salad!