Iowa BBQ Society 2013 Ribs for Kids Event: "Zoo-B-Que"
By: Rich Larson
Kids’ spending a day at the zoo is a common occurrence, but on November 9th a group of 21 inner city kids from Urban Dreams in Des Moines got a chance to enjoy a very special day at the Blank Park Zoo.
For the 12th year the Iowa BBQ Society held the Ribs for Kids event, now called Zoo-B-Que, to offer a variety of educational and fun activities centered on BBQ, food safety, and friendly competition. The primary goal of the event is to give the youth of inner City Des Moines a chance to get some hands on experience with outdoor cooking. The Iowa BBQ Society, in conjunction with the Kansas City BBQ Society, Urban Dreams, Cookies BBQ, and the Iowa State Meat Lab provided them with some of the best education the State has to offer.
The morning started out with an introduction by Speed Herrig (Cookies BBQ) and Anne Shimerdla (Blank Park Zoo) followed by Anne showing the kids a caiman and talking about the zoo. From there students from the Iowa State Meat Lab did an interactive presentation on hand washing and food preparation and safety. Next up was a zoo tour and scavenger hunt which all the kids thoroughly enjoyed. Thankfully the weather was beautiful for early November in Iowa! The morning wrapped up with another presentation by the Zoo where the kids got see a tortoise and a boa constrictor and learn about their habitat and other cool details.
The Cookies BBQ semi was on site to provide lunch for the kids and volunteers. Walking the zoo in the morning had everyone hungry and ready for BBQ! During lunch the kids and volunteers all received Zoo-B-Que event shirts.
The afternoon kicked off with the kids getting to try their hand at grilling chicken, hamburgers, and pork loin. Each kid was given a small charcoal grill, utensils, and meat thermometers for cooking and a wide array of seasonings was also on hand so they could customize their flavor profiles as they saw fit. Due to the varying types of meat the kids learned about cooking times and also how to check the temperature of the meat to ensure it was cooked completely.
Once the meat was cooked the kids met up with Paul Lengling, an Iowa BBQ Society member, to help the kids cut the various meats and prepare their turn-in box for judging. Extra meat disappeared quickly as the kids happily sampled the results of their hard work. Many of the kids had never cooked on a grill before and were excited about the opportunity and were looking forward to future adventures cooking over coals. The "judging" was for bragging rights and the chance to take home one of three trophies at the end of the day.
With the grilling complete the kids moved back inside to begin the dessert competition. The kids used cake, frosting and a wide variety of sweet accessories to craft their own unique desert. The desert entries were also judged for a chance to win one of three medals. The real bonus for the kids was being able to eat their creations!
The last educational session of the day had the kids touring the zoo service kitchen to check out some of the food the animals eat and they also got to dissect owl pellets to see the remains of their meals.
The day concluded with Wayne Ford from Urban Dreams handing out the trophies for the grilling competition, medals for the desert competition, and plaques to all the kids at the event. The awards were provided by the Iowa State Meat Lab. The kids also took home the grill they used earlier in the day so they can continue to cook at home.
Our partners in this event are the Iowa BBQ Society, the Kansas City BBQ Society, Cookies BBQ, the ISU Meat Lab, the Blank Park Zoo, National Pork Board, Iowa Pork Producers, Urban Dreams, Smokey D’s, TNT Landscaping & Hawgeyes BBQ, and the Performance Food Group. Over thirty volunteers from the Iowa BBQ Society, Cookie’s BBQ, Urban Dreams, Iowa State Meat Lab, and the Blank Park Zoo helped make the event possible. An estimated 500 plus kids (to date) have been through the program. Each child has been instilled with a new cooking confidence and we look forward to continuing the program well into the future. Special thanks go out to the Blank Park Zoo for providing the facility free of charge for the event. This provided a unique and fun atmosphere for the kids.