About 2,500 people are expected to show up at the Oakland Coliseum ahead of the A’s game against the Mariners this Saturday, for the 2nd annual Bay Area BBQ Championship. The charity fundraiser, which benefits foster youth, will feature both pro and amateur cook-offs,  and a third category called People’s Choice.

“Big” Tom Pierce of Allied Storage Containers in Oakland is fielding a team called “Candy on a Bone.”

“There’s cash and there’s trophies,” he says, “but the biggest prize is the bragging rights. [To] be able [to] walk around for a year knowing you’re the king of the county.”

This year, there’s a competition within the competition… between two Oakland firehouses. But don’t go making too much of it. Lieutenant James P. Troy – or “JP” – out of Oakland Fire Station 12 says the firefighters aren’t bringing a lot of, you know, heat to the competition.”You gotta understand that. We’re all on the same team.

Troy and his cohort, the Chinatown “Dragonslayers,” have reason to be a little cocky. Firefighters are famous for eating well, but the folks at Station 12 have taken it to a new level.

Firefighter/cook Zach Fraser has personally adopted the station’s neighborhood, Chinatown, utilizing its culinary offerings to the max . To walk with him as he shops is to get a lesson in basic Cantonese. “Jo San!” he calls out as he enters Yuen Hop on Webster, and the cashier calls back “Joooo Saaan!” We pick up black sesame seeds, sesame oil and hot mustard powder,  then it’s on to our next destination, T&S Market, for the chicken or gabe oh.

“How much?” Fraser asks. “Sap mung,” the butcher replies. Fraser slaps his money down and says “Do je, do je.” (If my transliteration of the Cantonese fails, dear reader, please forgive my ignorance.)

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Where's your fork? (Credit: KQED/Rachael Myrow)

The end result: marinaded chicken seared on the grill, set next to a dollop of white rice and topped with black sesame seeds and a sweet and sour sauce made with plums.

“That’s the trick that I’m shooting for,” Fraser says. “That you’ll know it’s BBQ sauce, but it’s from Chinatown.”

For Fraser’s recipes, see Bay Area Bites.


Rachael Myrow

From KQED’s Silicon Valley Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow covers arts and culture in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. This follows more than seven years hosting KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state. She still guest hosts for The California Report and Forum, and files for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked in Los Angeles for Marketplace and KPCC.

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