Thu Jun 11, 2015
Back at the beginning of May, I had the honor of joining my Kingsford family for the 2015 Kingsford Invitational set against the beautiful skyline of lower Manhattan. For those not familiar with the event, think of it as the most elite of all barbecue cook-offs. Unlike a normal competition, where just about anybody can sign up, the Kingsford Invitational invites only the top team from five of the most prestigious events in barbecue. This year that brought in the grand champions of Memphis in May (Big Bob Gibson), Houston Livestock and Rodeo (Bar-B-Que Commanders), the American Royal (Cool Smoke), Blue Ridge BBQ Festival (Warren County Pork Choppers), BBQ Pitmasters TV show (Rescue Smokers), and one wild card team made up of some of the most well regarded NYC pitmasters from Hometown, Mighty Quinn's, and Ducks Eatery (dubbing themselves The Dirty Water Dogs). Altogether the competition spanned three unforgettable days of great food and great friends.
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Thu Nov 14, 2013
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the second annual Kingsford Invitational—a contest that takes the top teams from each of the biggest competitions and pits them against each other in a $50,000 winner-take-all cook off. While the categories are familiar—chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket—this comp cuts across different sanctioning bodies of barbecue and territorial divisions, equalizing barbecue and giving the pitmasters the freedom to cook the best damn meat they can, not to a preconceived standard. It's a thrilling prospect, and one only more enticing given that I had the opportunity to hang out with these teams, talk shop, and taste some of the best competition barbecue out there.
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Thu Oct 3, 2013
My second, and final, competition of the season has now come and gone. Riding high on some big improvements during my last performance, I went into Que by the Sea in Seaside Heights, NJ with something to prove to myself—can I turn those gains into tangible wins (aka: cash money). As the date neared, a fire on the boardwalk the week before first caused uncertainty if the comp would even happen, then a pretty grim weather prediction for the actual event weekend incited some trepidation that ate away at confidence. Those fears were not completely unfounded, but luckily for The Meatwave, the finale of the long and rough weekend left us pretty stoked.
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Thu Aug 8, 2013
It's been nearly a year since The Meatwave last hit the road and competed in the Hudson Valley Ribfest. Looking back, there were many highs and lows being a first year team, and throughout the three contests we went to, we learned a whole lot on what I needed to do to up my barbecue game and become a serious contender. So I took that knowledge and turned it into practice over of the off season, then found a couple different competitions this summer that I thought would challenge me even more than the before. While I fundraised to get The Meatwave to competitions last year, I was on my own this time around, and with the combo of physical effort and the investment made, I set off to The Battle of the BBQ Brethren in Manorville, NY with the need to prove to myself that I'm at least on the right path to becoming a true barbecue champion.
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Wed Aug 22, 2012
After successfully fundraising to get The Meatwave on the competition circuit, I took a look at the sea of competitions out there and decided to take a pragmatic approach to the contests we'd enter.
Taking the jump from backyard to comps is an uphill battle—grilling for friends and family doesn't really prepare you much for the challenges of dealing with tight deadlines and cooking to a judge's taste and not your own. So I started small, with the closest contest to home, the one day Grillin' on the Bay in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, which pitted us against 17 teams. Then I upped our game slightly for our second comp, with a true barbecue competition only slightly further away at the NYC BBQ Cookoff in Staten Island, which had 20 teams and required an overnight stay. Then I gave myself a buffer of a few months for recipe development before I took on the big time with the established festival that is the Hudson Valley Ribfest, two hours north of the city in New Paltz.
In its eighth year, this comp attracts a full house of fifty teams (actually scaled down from 70 last year) and attracts some of the best competitors in the New York region and beyond. It's three days and two separate competitions, which I thought would put a nice bookend for our first year of competition.
More and the ribtastic results after the jump >>