KCBS, Dr. BBQ and The “Tom Young” Sandwich

The K-J culinary team recently participated in the 2nd Annual Wine Country Big Q, a Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned event.  The KCBS is an organization that is serious about barbeque.  They host over 400 competitions around the country where professional teams participate in the art of competitive barbeque, judged by certified professional judges.

We entered the Winery Big Beef Challenge, a tri-tip and wine pairing competition that was judged by the guests.  This gave us a chance to get out and serve some wine and food, and to check out what the pros were doing. I’m excited to let you know that our sandwich, the Tom Young, took home the People’s Choice Award.

The highlight of the day was when the famous Dr. BBQ, Ray Lampe, dropped by for a glass of our Kendall-Jackson Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and I got to swap stories with a true barbeque ambassador.  I must say, he made some mighty fine ribs.

For the competition, we created the “Tom Young” sandwich.  This was in honor of Chef Tom Young, a larger than life southern chef, mentor and one of the first chefs I worked for.  He took me under his wing and taught me so many things, about cooking technique, food, wine and barbeque.

Tom and I used to have endless kitchen conversations about these finer things in life (i.e. food, wine and, of course, barbeque).  Tom was an amazing chef and one of those rare cooks that had the flavor in his fingers.  No matter what he cooked or how simple it seemed, it always tasted amazing.

Tom also had an incredible palate and loved wine, especially Pinot Noir from California and Oregon.   He often led tours and tastings for North Carolina folks in Sonoma County and was amazed with the food-minded people and the artisan culinary products being crafted here.

He taught me about organization, preparation and encouraged me to be creative.  As a young cook, creativity truly inspired me and to this day is one of the best parts about my job.   I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without the insight and guidance from Tom throughout my career.  He encouraged me to go to culinary school and later to move to Wine Country to learn about food and wine.  Tom passed away earlier this year, but his legacy and recipes will live on in all those who were lucky enough to have cooked with him.

I was recently looking through my notes and recipes from those days of working with Tom, hoping to find his pickled Jerusalem artichoke recipe, and I came across the concept for this sandwich.  It was based on a favorite dish he taught me how to make at his restaurant – a smoked beef salad with red wine braised cabbage & blue cheese.

We are big fans of the tri tip cut here at K-J, so for this sandwich we threw some cabernet barrel staves on the smoker and smoked Snake River Farms Kobe tri-tip low and slow on a Texas barrel smoker for about two hours.  Below is our recipe for the “Tom Young” sandwich – The Winery Big Beef Challenge People’s Choice Award winner!

Kobe Tri-Tip Sandwiches with Cabernet Braised Red Cabbage and Blue Cheese & Buttermilk Dressing
Pair with Kendall-Jackson Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Our favorite tri-tip comes from Snake River Farms in Boise, Idaho. They use American Wagyu beef, often called American Kobe beef, and the quality is amazing. The richness of the Kobe beef pairs wonderfully with the tangy Cabernet braised red cabbage and funky blue cheese in these sandwiches.

Serves Six

For The Tri-Tip

  • 1 (2½ to 3 lb.) tri-tip (we cold smoked ours first)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper


  1. Remove tri-tip from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Preheat grill to high heat. Pat the tri-tip dry with paper towels.
  2. Rub the tri-tip with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on grill over high heat for 4 minutes, flip the tri-tip and cook for 4 minutes more. Move the tri-tip to a medium-low heat area on your grill and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 134⁰F.
  3. Remove from grill, loosely tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain.

For The Braised Red Cabbage

  • 1 Tbsp. bacon fat (or olive oil)
  • ½ red onion, julienne
  • ½ Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lb. red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 sachet containing: 1 bay leaf, 4 juniper berries, 3 black peppercorns
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/8 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the bacon fat, onion and salt. Sauté until soft, without browning, approximately 4 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  2. Add the cabbage and sachet to the pot, stir and wilt cabbage slightly, approximately 4 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar, wine, pomegranate molasses and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 30 minutes or until liquid reduces almost completely. Discard sachet and rosemary sprig.

For The Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1 lb. crumbled blue cheese, such as Point Reyes Original Blue
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup chives, minced
  • ½ cup scallions (including green), minced
  • ¼ cup shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients. This dressing is best made the day before and refrigerated overnight.

To Assemble
1 cup Sausalito Springs watercress

Toast or grill some bread, such as ciabatta rolls. Spread the bottom slice of bread with blue cheese dressing, place a spoonful of cabbage on top of the dressing, layer with tri-tip, a sprig of watercress and top with remaining slice of bread.