A trail of Passion: Birger Allary (Tjoppie Doppie)
Here’s the first portrait in the “Trail of Passion” concept. Birger provides a self-portrait on his growing passion for BBQ! Read on and find out what other things in life are keeping his fire burning. Read about his adventures in his first year competition BBQ and have a look on the great person he chose to be following him along the trail. Here’s Birger’s story:
Simon asked me to write a little piece about my passions in life. Especially the one we share both, the love for cooking and barbeque in particular. I guess this is one of the most common subjects we talk about when we get a chance on taking lunch together. 99% of the time we’re talking about barbeque. The other one 1% is just a waste of time 😉
A developing love for food:
My cooking history starts long before Tjoppie Doppie. Actually I come from a family packed with foodies. We had butchers on my fathers side and a pig breeder, pigeon breeders on both sides. There were two gardeners who grew their own veggies and even a restaurant owner for a while. Everywhere we went, I saw passionate people prepping the best meals they had to offer. I was the lucky one tasting the goods.
As a kid I remember making dough with my grandmother to bake “lukken” , a traditional belgian type of butter waffles. My grandfather made up to 400kg a winter, one by one. From time to time I got the chance to help him. As you can see on the picture above we had a good time together.
An attempt on living healthy:
Some years later I started to compete in cycling. I got in contact with Karel Knockaert. Over there foundations of our friendship and Tjoppie Doppie were built. Little did we know we would end up in a BBQ team. Being not that bad in cycling, I decided to take things a little bit further and searched some training tips and techniques. This way I ended up with following food plans. In order to follow these plans I started to cook some simple Italian food (risotto, spaghetti,…). This small step got me hooked on cooking and collecting some books.
After my decision to stop cycling , I continued to cook a from time to time sticking to my “proven-to-be-good” recipes. I ran some marathons at a slow pace. It was not my intention to aim high but just wanted to enjoy it as much as I could. Low and slow made it’s introduction over here.
Meeting my wife and dad-in-law really enlightened my barbeque fire. We’re in 2007 by now. My father in law had welded his own grill and made some great high and fast grilled meals. I wanted to impress my wife and her family and went on a search for a good BBQ cookbook. I bought “Basic BBQ” by Peter De Clerq and started using it. I started with some great grilling recipes. But the book also contains some delicious low and slow recipes. At that time I had another colleague who participated “The Jack” with his team “De Fielesoofen”. They organize a lot of contests in Belgium in the culinary BBQ scene. In our chats I started to learn more and more about BBQ, smoking, …
Moreover he got me hooked on the stories about preparing meat overnight. I bought my first kettle grill, and started to follow the competition scene for years, taking idea’s to my backyard and trying them out. At that moment I had never been thinking about competing. My collection of cookbooks and recipes grew bigger. I even started upgrading my own gear, made an Ugly Drum Smoker, tuned a Smokey Joe into a smoker … At this point smoking my own fish and meat became a regular activity.
Tjoppie Doppie Team, the beginning:
Years went on and in 2014 I was visitor at the first KCBS contest in Belgium. I was following the scene on the internet and would not miss this chance to attend the contest. I wanted to see it with my own eyes and taste the great food provided over there. I noticed one team in particular: Miss Piggy’s UK. I knew they obtained high scores before. Nevertheless I was blown away by the gear they used: a 3×3 gazebo and just one drum and one bullet smoker… All those years I thought I needed very expensive gear to compete or obtain results… It was such an eye opener for me to witness you could compete with just the gear I had at home…
Although I had never cooked pulled pork or brisket at that time I needed a new challenge and signed up to compete in Ruhrpott bbq contest in Germany, the final stage of the European Barbeque Challenge Cup that year. I got my best mate involved (who never had done bbq before) and my aunt Catherine, who got a lot of experience in organizing all sort of things and even has some cooking experience. We took our time to prepare and the plans got real, we called ourselves Tjoppie Doppie BBQ Team. The name is a bastardized South-African for our main interests. To “Braai Tjoppie” and drink some “Doppie”.
Stressed out as spring chickens we went to our first contest and had lots of fun. We met a lot of new friends. 68 teams, the best in Europe, were there. No wonder we freaked out by getting 6th in brisket and 10th in Ribs at our first contest. We even got 14th in the general, so we we’re thrilled and desperate to get our Tjoppie Doppie Team even higher…
And now, after our first full year of competing with Tjoppie Doppie, we ended up with a 5th place in chicken in the European Championship. Being the best belgian team in chicken and winning a prize at nearly every contest we entered. But things ran a little out of hand in the meantime and people started asking to cater at their party. So I started my own company Tjoppie Doppie BBQ Catering, as a spin off from the competition team. I like to cook. People seem to like eating my meals, so things became more and more serious…
So that’s how it goes. From making dough with my grandparents and baking butter waffles at the age of 3, to making founding Tjoppie doppie. Preparing ribs, chicken, pork and brisket for judges all over Europe at the age of 32… Moreover we have seen some beautiful places and experienced some fantastic adventures we would never encounter without the competitions. W.E.S.T. (Winter Extreme South Tirol) BBQ competition to name one as an example. BBQ at -11°C sounds insane but we enjoy a challenge. We couldn’t believe our ears when we were invited for a walk to pick up the first price at “Chicken” and an 8th place overall. The cold and our beer frozen to the table were soon forgotten.
To end I want to thank my lovely supporting wife. While being pregnant she joined us at W.E.S.T. out in the cold. Now that our youngest boy is born, I have two beautiful children. They might keep the flame burning in the future. They love to eat and Maurice even imitates my cooking! Sometimes he’s allowed to be my “souschef” and takes te responsbility to glaze the meat. Last year was fantastic competing in the most diverse circumstances, meeting lovely people, sharing a good pint of beer and gaining some kg. in weight.
Next in line will be Scott and Lyndz from Miss Piggy’s. They’re the best European KCBS team the past years. As stated before you won’t see them with big expensive trailers to cook on. Yet they’re the ones walking away with the prizes afterwards 😉 They really opened my eyes and made me see there’s not much needed to have a lot of fun at the pit… Also, they are such nice people, once you’ve met them, you’re unable to hate them 😉
Simon again: “Thanks Birger for sharing your story. I’m verry pleased to read who you’re leading me too and looking forward to get in contact with these passionate people. As an encore, Birger shares his favorite recipe over here tomorrow. So stay tuned for more goods. Meanwhile you can put on “Johny Cash” start a fire and cook yourself a delicious meal! Enjoy the weekend.