Chilebrown at home

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


We are in Oakland California to try the much anticipated opened 4505 Burgers & BBQ. This is a sister restaurant to the original San Francisco venue. Traffic was light today and we found a parking spot right across the busy street. Bring lots of quarters because you will need to feed the meter. It seems that the new 4505 occupies a former hot dog joint and have remodeled. There is a very neat old fashioned revolving sign proclaiming you have arrived at 4505.

Before we go any further I would like to mention this disclaimer to our critique of 4505. We are dedicated bbq judges. We taste championship bbq from some of the best bbq competitors in the nation. We eat, score and enjoy bbq almost every weekend. It can be a little hard to not judge even when we are not officially judging. With that said we enter 4505 with open minds. We would like to tell you our thoughts about the whole package of food, service and venue. Let’s go.

Walking into the restaurant you walk through a Disneyland type of que for the line. I believe they are expecting big crowds. It is around 1:00pm and the place is busy but not crowded. The line does move slowly even though it is not crowded. You make your menu choices from a printed paper menu located next to the cash register. There are a lot of choices and options. I also found out one must and cannot deviate from this printed menu. I usually order ribs, brisket and pork shoulder to sample. A three meat choice option is offered but for some reason ribs are not included with this offering. You can order ribs and other meats by the pound but be prepared to pay three times. Do not deviate from the menu I have been reminded and told.

The order is placed and you need to find a seat. The waitress will bring you meal to an outdoor table. The outside is fun and inviting. It is like being at a catered outdoor picnic party. There is an area for children and there are lots of board games available for young entertainment. There is a great local mural and some fun wall hangings make this an inviting area. It is a summer afternoon and I am not sure if this will work in the winter.

There is a station to for water and self-serve bbq sauce. Three choices that are all on the sweet side are available. House White that is mayonnaise based, a tomato base and our favorite mustard and vinegar. Our meals are delivered quickly. They look like they just have been arranged for a magazine layout photo shoot. They are beautiful and because one eats with their eyes first we are happy. Ms. Goofy tries her deep fried mac & cheese and it is almost refrigerator cold. I flagged down a waitress and she scurried off and replaced this transgression with a piping hot fresh replacement.
This Deep Fried Mac & Cheese has bits of 4505 hot dogs in the creamy center. The cheese & noodle  is battered and deep fried. Ms. Goofy loves it. This was the highlight of her meal. She had a ¼ pound grass fed burger. This is 4505’s signature dish. Ms. Goofy liked it and devoured this small offering. I had a bite and it did have the slight gamy twang that grass fed beef sometimes has. (I am not a fan of grass fed anything). Ms. Goofy was happy with her meal and proclaims her love for deep fried mac & cheese.

I had a 2 meat combination of pork shoulder and brisket served with sides of Cole slaw and bbq beans. I really liked the sides of beans with shreds of smoky meat to make this a satisfying side dish. The Cole slaw was fresh and properly dressed. Some pickles were served that were sweet and crunchy. A very fresh parker house roll was soft and pillow like that had a slightly malty/sweet like top that was great. The brisket had good smoke flavor. It was dry and when I drenched it in the mustard sauce it was quit palatable. The pulled pork was chewy. This was a good chewy because it had nice balance of smoke and pork flavor. I believe there was some crunchy pork cracklin’s in this mix. (I sure hope they were pork cracklin’s)

Overall 4505 Burgers & BBQ is a great addition to the neighborhood. It is a clean, modern and fun place to bring the family. The staff is professional, young and  great with service. Our waitress corrected the kitchen error immediately and with a smile. The kitchen turned out some magazine cover looking plates of food. It is impressive and appreciated when a restaurant turns out such a good looking plate of food. The meats are good, not great. I need to remind myself that we are not judging competition bbq and follow all menu rules. With that said; 4505 Burgers & BBQ has good food, great service and is a fun venue. Winner, Winner, BBQ Dinner.

Sunday, July 28, 2019


Yesterday we judged a sanctioned KCBS bbq contest at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Your truly won a major award for achieving the milestone of judging 100+ bbq contests. It has been a fun journey with so many people to thank. There was a small presentation ceremony before judging yesterday. I was presented a bling necklace that proclaims that I am now a VIP judge. I am humbled and touched by this acknowledgement. The VIP bling is pictured in this rare photo of the Mad Meat Genius. Yesterday we also had a fantastic contest. I have to apologize for no photos of this event because it was crazy hot. The thermometer broke the 100 degree mark and we were in a very hot tent. Once the judging was done we took shelter in our air conditioned new 'Racing Honda II". See you next time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


While in New Mexico, I was a real bonafide tourist. Yes, I went into gift shops and wandered the aisles of trinkets and a lot of turquoise with a blank stare. What caught my eye was a package of green chili. I wanted to bring home a taste of New Mexico and that is what I did.

This product was actually produced in Jemez Springs New Mexico. The ingredient list is short with dehydrated chili , green and red chili powder, flour, garlic spice and salt. The instructions are very easy of just adding water and simmering. It also suggested the addition of cooked meat. I choose some grilled country style pork ribs. This was all simmered for 1/2 an hour.

This mix produced a comforting bowl of green chili. It was tasty with a mild heat warmth that would please almost everyone. It was simple to use and convenient. Would I purchase this again? Probably not. Granted it was simple and easy to make but I can do a lot better. What was special was the memory of my recent trip to New Mexico.

Sunday, July 21, 2019


This weekend was like any other bbq weekend. There was an exception. Ms. Goofy was out of town on a sister retreat and we did not sign up to judge any bbq this weekend. You know, I just could not stay away. I went solo and visited the Dixon Grillin & Chillin, Car and Truck show. This is a yearly event that brings out the locals for a fun filled day in downtown Dixon California. Dixon is a rural town that still has a small town feel. It made for a great day to have a bbq contest and fun event.

There just so happened to be a small farmers market held in the middle of the event. This was a great place to pick up some vegetables, flowers or bbq sauce to bring home.

Today the bbq contest was ribs only. I do not know the particulars because I was only an observer. I noticed a couple of familiar teams and our friends Jack & Gina from Big Shot bbq team were there. I also notice some pretty enthusiastic backyard teams testing their mettle.

This one team Los Borrachos Cochinos. (translates to The Drunk Kitchen) were having a lot fun. They were passing out free samples of 'Burnt Ends' made with pork belly. Oh, my! They were a treat. Imagine very tender smoky sweet bacon cubes that melt in your mouth to experience these treats.

I was not judging today so I needed a snack. "Good Ol Boys Rolled Tacos" looked popular, so I decided to give it a try. This was a hamburger filling rolled up in a flour tortilla and deep fried. It was served fresh out of the fryer. It had just the right amount of hot grease and salt to make an appetizing little snack.

We had a car show today and it was huge. A lot of chrome polish was used today. The sun was bright and hot to make these vintage and custom cars shine.

This was a festival that had something for everyone. Music, food, beverages, pony rides and vendors selling all sorts of Knick Knacks. I did not judge today but had a good time. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Barbeque competitors have a need to participate in culinary contests. A lot of bbq competitors compete in other food related challenges such as chili and Mac & Cheese. Today we are in Oakland California observing two barbeque friends, Ben & Joe, competing in a Mac & Cheese contest at the restaurant Homeroom.This was a small contest but when a trophy, cash and bragging rights the stakes are high. Let's take a look. 

 Homeroom is a very popular restaurant whose specialty is Mac & Cheese. It also happens to be the beginning of Mac & Cheese week. (I did not now there was a Mac & Cheese week). The judging would be held on the sidewalk outside of the Homeroom restaurant. Space was tight and one had to be creative on cooking ones entry. Ben & Joe got to the event early and grabbed two coveted parking spots a block away. They parked a trailer that they normally use in barbeque competition. This trailer is a complete kitchen. They were prepared.

Ben & Joe made an entry that was very unique. It had white cheddar and other cheeses sauce with a smattering of tiny cubes of jalapeno mixed throughout. It was garnished with a chile oil , fried sage, and fresh jalapeno slivers. This was served in an edible bowl of crisp Parmesan cheese. It was delicious . This entry was served piping hot because it was made right there. This definitely was  a game changer.  It also caught the judges attention and won first place.

Congratulations to Ben & Joe. This was a contest the fell outside the blue box. It was a lot of fun.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


The Clayton BBQ Cook-Off rolled into town bigger and better than previous years. Each year more teams participate in this local bbq competition. Thirty one professional teams and 22 Backyard teams made this a full house at this popular event. The Professionals cook four meats consisting of; chicken, pork ribs, pork and brisket. The Backyard division competes with ribs and chicken. The Backyard division is a great way to show off your skills and get a lot of pointers from the pros. We were here to judge.

It was warm today with the thermometer most likely in the low nineties. We as judges were sequesters in an air conditioned room. Oh the sacrifices we make. The warmth did not stop the public from enjoying plenty of liquid libations and award winning barbeque. While the lip smacking rib eating public were enjoying food and refreshments they could listen to live music or stroll the main street and browse the local vendors.

This booth below was manned by our friends and fellow judges Tracy Allen and Scott Simpson. They were Ambassadors for the KCBS and CBBQA. The later is a California based bbq society. This was a popular booth becasuse everybody wants to be a judge. We can concur because we love to judge. Congratulations to Big Poppa Smokers for winning the Grand Championship for the Professional division. Congratulations to Smoke it Like It's Hot for winning the Backyard division. What a great day.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


This is just a little wrap up from my recent trip to New Mexico. A reacquiring food item in most local restaurants was fry bread and green chile. Fry bread is a leavan bread which is deep fried. Fresh out of the fryer is is almost irresistible. I even bought a fry bread apple pie from a young street vendor.

One unusual stop was Speedy's Truck Stop. Our host swore they had the most delicious Navajo burgers. Let me tell you this; you did not leave hungry after this monstrosity. It was a half pound of very well done hamburger meat. It had a layer of very tasty green chile which was probably the highlight of this creation. Do not get me wrong, fry bread is tasty but it can wear on you after a couple of helpings.

Our last stop was the El Rancho hotel. It is a famous landmark on the old Route 66, It claims to be a stop of the movie stars. It definitely had a lot of character and was a fun place to visit. The theme of green chile popped up again with my steak and enchiladas. I really do like green chile.

I have had my fill of fry bread. I can never get enough of green chile though. My visit to New Mexico was tasty and filling. I would love to return some day.

Sunday, July 7, 2019


This 4th of July Weekend we were in Harmony California for the Smoke and Hops bbq and beer festival. This was a first time festival that literally shakes rattled and rolled. The night before a 7.1 magnitude earthquake took us for a ride. Luckily there was no major damage and the bbq competitors cooked on. Harmony California is located in central California and at one time used to be a hippie commune.The only information I had heard about Harmony was from a Huell Howser episode. 

 Twenty seven competition bbq teams did battle today. There were a lot of heavy hitters for this first time competition. We had a nice judging tent which had its own air conditioned trailer ed rest rooms. The women judges were very pleased.

Lot's of local micro-beers were poured today. The public was able to purchase bbq from one lone vendor. The judges were included today too. We had the opportunity to sample beers and were all given a case of Chihuahua beer to take home. Unfortunately I missed the home made ice cream vendor. Harmony is known for its artist glass blowers and pottery makers. There were a couple of shops to browse these treasures.

The weather was perfect for this coastal town. The sun broke through and the temperatures rose and possibly broke the seventies. All in all it was a very fun day.for everyone.

Congratulations to Big Poppa Smokers for winning the Grand Championship. This was a first time event and we hope for its future success. We leave you with a quote from the late great Huell Howser; "That's Amazing"