Tag Archives: competition BBQ

The Jack Part 2: Amazing People

Finally, the euphoria and adrenaline from being in Lynchburg last weekend is starting to subside, and now I can really start to reflect on just what transpired in the hollow.  In my last post, I attempted to portray the general overall sense of excitement and sweet smoke at the Jack Daniel’s distillery.  Today I want to tackle another aspect of the weekend — the amazing people!


Prior to this past weekend, I published a series of blogs highlighting some of the teams that would be attending the event.  This weekend gave me the opportunity to meet those teams in person, along with many others.  But first, let me give a shout-out to my travel partner Jay Prince, the tech/gadget reviewer for BBQ Sauce Reviews.  He drove the entire time and was really good company!

After doing the tour upon arrival and checking out the hardware store, we headed down to the hollow to visit the teams.  One of the first teams we spotted right away was Mike & Debbie Davis of Lotta Bull BBQ.  It is always a pleasure getting to speak with Mike & Debbie, and today was certainly no exception.  I consider Mike to be a legend in competition BBQ, and rightfully so!

Jay and I continued our walk around the competition area talking to various teams.  We got to meet TippyCanoe BBQ (winners of the 2011 American Royal Invitational and 2011 Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour), Smokey’s Competition BBQ Team (our good friends Charles and Alli of C-Dub’s BBQ Rub were competing with them), and numerous others.  We even got the chance to meet Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson BBQ and the Man in Black himself, Myron Mixon of Jack’s Old South.

One of the teams we enjoyed spending a lot of time with was Pork Barrel BBQ.  Brett and Heath were very gracious and gladly spent a lot of time talking to the two of us about many different subjects.  It was great seeing them again (I had the privilege of meeting Heath at a competition in Lexington, NC).  We would have stayed and chatted longer, but turn-ins drew near, and it was crunch time.  Jay was even able to snag a bottle of Que Cologne to try out.

In general, I had a great time just walking around and chatting with the teams.  They all seemed to be having a great time and enjoying the atmosphere — relishing in the moment.  I enjoyed talking with Kit Rudd of Degüello BBQ and Mike Peters of Here Piggy Piggy BBQ.  It was fun chatting with the guys from Hot Grill on Grill Action and watching Guy Fieri prepping a turn-in for Motley Que BBQ.

Another thing that I discovered while in Lynchburg was that Canadian teams are by far the friendliest teams ever!  We had the privilege of talking to all but one of the Canadian teams competing at the Jack, and every single one of them were absolutely friendly and welcoming!  I was especially excited to get to meet the Canadian teams I profiled as part of my “Teams that Do Know Jack” series.  The first team we met was DivaQ, and that was nothing but sheer awesomeness there!

In fact, we had such a great time that Danielle ended up making me an honorary Canadian for the day!



We also had the opportunity to visit with Rob Reinhardt and the team from Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ.  With the time ticking close to turn-in, Rob was nice enough to come over and chat with us for a few minutes.  The whole team was super nice!

We also had the chance to visit with The Black Pig BBQ.  Wow!  These guys were the pure definition of friendly!  We chatted with various team members for at least a half-hour.  Even as chicken turn-in was approaching, we were taking team pictures and having a great time!

I also want to give a shout-out to Can’t Stop Grilling and Well Seasoned and the Canada Q Crew.  Thank you for taking time out to chat with Jay and myself.  We really appreciate it!

So there you go…  the mystique of the Jack is not only in the location and tradition of the competition, but also in the teams that are in the field.  I can’t wait to get back up to Lynchburg again next year!


I Survived The Jack!!!

If I had to describe this past weekend in one word, that word would be WOW!  Yes, in all caps.  It was just that awesome!  The hardest part about this trying to figure out where in the world to start.  I guess the beginning would be a good place…


The trip started at about 3am EST from Taylors, SC — near the Greenville/Spartanburg metro area.  My good friend Jay Prince and I were on the road for six hours before arriving at Lynchburg, TN.  After the fastest six hour car ride that I have ever experienced, we finally arrived at the distillery at 8am CST.  Because we arrived so early, we were fortunate enough to park at the visitor’s center.  And there to greet us was the gentleman himself!

Upon arrival, we immediately sign up for a tour and get in on the second tour of the day.  It was a good thing that we went ahead and did this, because after the tour ended around 9:30am, there was a very long line going out the visitors center!

Although the tour had to be somewhat rushed due to this being the busiest day of the year at the distillery, it was still an excellent tour.  Bruce did a great job of leading us through the hallowed grounds of the distillery, the still house, and the barrel house.  Unfortunately we did not get to sample the whiskey (with it being in a dry county), but we did get some tasty lemonade.

The population around the area really get into this event, and it is evident by the massive crowds seen dispersed throughout.  You really can’t put into words the dedication, passion, and love that locals put into this event — it’s really something that has to be experienced in person.  The layout is just amazing.

A word of advice: if you go, invest the money and purchase a commemorative whiskey barrel top.  Make sure to bring a black Sharpie marker, and take it to have the teams sign.  It makes for a great conversation piece, and it’s really cool to have teams sign it!  As you can see, the one I purchased is already on display at the office.

Whiskey Barrel Top

Oh yeah, I also got branded an honorary Canadian by DivaQ.  But I’ll tell more about that next time…

There really is so much more to tell, but I wanted to keep this brief.  Next time I will be talking about some of the teams that I had the privilege of meeting in Lynchburg!  If you’re interested in seeing some photos, you can check out the album on my Facebook page.

Grillin’ and Chillin’ on Main in Waxhaw, NC

First off, I owe a great big thank you to my wonderful wife!  This contest fell on our wedding anniversary, and she was still okay with me going to judge.  She rocks!!

A few weeks ago, I was judging at the Sam’s Club contest in Greensboro, NC.  During the break between the judges’ meeting and the start of the judging, we were approached and asked if we wanted to judge a competition on the 9th of October in Waxhaw, NC (about 30 minutes from the Charlotte city limits).  I submitted my application, and before I know it I was in!

Sixteen teams competed in the professional division, while seven teams competed in the backyard division.  This contest was the first contest that I have experienced where there was not 100% KCBS certified judges.  The table I sat at had a 50/50 split of certified judges and non-certified judges.  It made for a very interesting dynamic.  I also had the pleasure of having George Goodyear as my table captain for this competition.  As Kevin Sandridge of BBQSmokerSite.com got to experience first hand at a competition in Salisbury, NC, George is a vast wealth of BBQ knowledge and experience and did a superb job as our table captain.

As for the event itself, it was very well organized and put together.  The venue for the contest was right in the middle of downtown Waxhaw, a very picturesque and cute downtown area.  If I wasn’t on a schedule and forced to depart early, I could’ve explored the downtown area.  The contest itself was in its second year, but this year was the first as a KCBS sanctioned contest.  It was very well organized.  So to everyone who was involved with organizing the contest, thank you!

Taking Grand Champion at Grillin’ and Chillin’ on Main was Uncle Mac’s BBQ Crue, with Palmetto Smokehouse taking Reserve Grand Champion.  The full results of the contest can be found on the KCBS website.

Below are a few pictures I was able to capture from the venue.  Hope you enjoy them!

Going to the Jack? Let’s talk…

Did your competition BBQ team get picked to compete at the Jack Daniels World Championship this year?  Are you good friends with a team that is going?  I’d love to hear from you!

Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to do a series of blog posts featuring different teams that will be competing in Lynchburg, Tennessee.  This is your chance to brag about your team.  Whether you want to talk about your team’s great history, talk about how hard all of your team members work, talk about all the grand championships you’ve won, or talk about just how plain awesome you are, this is your chance to shine!!

If you are interested in featuring your team in this blog series, please contact me as soon as possible!  You can email me by going to the Contact page on this blog, or you can email me directly at bigwaynerbbq@gmail.com.

Big on the Pig at Time Warner Cable BBQ and Blues

[tweetmeme source=”brownkw” only_single=false]

This past weekend, Charlotte rolled out the welcome mat to some of the top Memphis Barbecue Network teams in the country for Time Warner Cable BBQ and Blues.  This will mostly be a picture montage.  If you want to see more photos from the event (as well as possibly a recap from a judge’s perspective), go visit the blog of my friend Steve Gibbs at http://q4fun.blogspot.com.

Thursday during lunch rewarded the first 300 people to the Wells Fargo Atrium during lunch (of which I was one of the first 300) with free BBQ from one of 2 Charlotte-area vendors — Mac’s Speed Shop and Rock Store Bar-B-Q.  Everyone there was also treated to a concert and gumbo courtesy of Bill Wharton, better known as the Sauce Boss.

The event itself started on Friday.  Teams loaded in Friday morning, and the venue was opened to the public Friday afternoon.  I took off immediately after work to get a decent parking place.  The layout of the venue had the competing teams (both in the professional and backyard divisions) situated caddy-cornered from the vending areas and other attractions.

Since I was only able to attend on Friday, I decided to go around and take a few photos.  (The gallery will contain some of the photos already shown above)

Results from the competition can be found at http://www.charlottebbqandblues.com/competitions/2011-team-placements/.  The results only show the top 5 for each of the professional categories and the top 3 for each category in the backyard division.

BBQ in Bulk: Judging the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour

[tweetmeme source=”brownkw” only_single=false]

For those of you keeping up with the competition circuit, you’re probably aware of the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour.  Sam’s Club has partnered with KCBS in putting on a BBQ tournament.  Teams compete in 25 local and regional contests throughout the country for the opportunity to travel to Bentonville, AR to compete in a national contest.  With over $400,000 in total prize money dispersed at all of the events, many teams jumped at the chance to enter.

I was able to get in and judge at the Greensboro, NC contest.  This contest was a feeder to the regional event in Laurel, MD.  Thirty teams were present at this event (as is the case for all local Sam’s Club events).  Since my wife had to be in Raleigh by 9:00am, we decided to carpool.  What does this mean?  I got there WAY ahead of the 9:30am start for judges check-in.  I was able to go around and get a few pictures.

Later that morning, several of us judges assisted in putting together the trophies for this competition.

Now on to the food!  Overall, I thought the food was about on par for a good competition.  There were some entries that were middle of the road, and there were some entries that were absolutely excellent!  Only one of the entries was below what I expected for good competition BBQ.

For the event itself, I was concerned that there would just be the focus on the competition aspect.  However, when I arrived, I found at least 3 or 4 different entities there that were either demoing cooking or touting the heavenly qualities of meat.  In between judging entries, I peeked outside of the judging area and saw steady crowds checking out the area.  So my worries were for naught.

If you want to view more photos taken at the event, you can go to the photo album on my Facebook page.  All in all, the event went well!  Big thanks to the organizers, Jerry and Joyce Gardner, as well as the KCBS representatives, Don and Debbie Harwell.  This event was lucky in that the organizers had ample time to work out any kinks demonstrated at earlier events in the series.  Would I want to judge this again?  Yeah, I would.

Big Wayner is Going to the Jack!!!

[tweetmeme source=”brownkw” only_single=false]

I said I was going to do a post about this, then I changed my mind.  As you can see, I changed my mind again.

First off, I owe a huge, HUGE thank you to Jay Prince, one of my blog readers and good friends.  He mentioned on Twitter about going up to Lynchburg, TN to check out the Jack Daniel’s 2011 World Championship Invitational Barbecue.  We got a conversation going back and forth about going, and before I know it things are set in stone for the trip!

Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue (2010 poster)

Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue (2010 poster)

So my first year in the competition circuit, and I’m going as a spectator to one of the biggest competitions in the country — heck, the WORLD!  To give you an idea of the scale of this tournament… Lynchburg, TN has a population of 361.  This contest is slated to draw 25,000 people in attendance.

2010 Crowds

2010 Crowds

In addition to cooking the four standard KCBS meats (pork ribs, chicken, pork shoulder/butts, brisket), contestants from as far away as Switzerland, Germany, and Australia will compete in Cook’s Choice, Dessert, and Jack Daniel’s Sauce categories to determine the Grand Champion.

If you’re competing or just attending as a fan, I’d love to meet up with you.  Let me know if you’re going to be there.

NOTE: All images were obtained from the Jack Daniel’s BBQ Media site.  

KCBS Judging Escapades: SC Festival of Discovery

[tweetmeme source=”brownkw” only_single=false]

I was really excited when I found out that I had been selected to judge at the SC Festival of Discovery.  There were several reasons for this…

  1. I knew this competition had been featured on Food Network, so it’s a very well known competition.
  2. As a result of it being a very well known competition, there would surely be some big names in competition BBQ present at the competition.
  3. Who needs another reason?  It’s BBQ!
The competition was the largest that I have judged to date, so I was a bit nervous about it.  My worst fear was that it was going to be absolute chaos and totally disorganized.  However, my fears were soon put to rest.  There were 4 different representatives present (including one member of the Board of Directors), and the event coordinator did a spectacular job keeping everything organized so that we could concentrate on judging.  
Sometimes the entries are hit and miss, and sometimes everything is outstanding.  Today was one of those days where the majority of entries to our table was excellent.  There were a couple of entries that slightly disappointed me, but overall I left very full!
After the contest, I decided to walk around for a bit and try to chit-chat with some of the teams.  Two of the teams I got to talk to for an extended period of time were QUAU and Lotta Bull BBQ.  I’m sure that after a long day, the last thing they wanted to do was to talk to a judge who is also a blogger.  However, both teams were very pleasant to talk with, and I certainly appreciated that!
I’m already looking forward to putting in my application for this contest next year!
The overall top 10 results are below.  You can view the overall results on the KCBS website.
  1. Lotta Bull BBQ
  2. QUAU
  3. Holy Smokes
  4. Pickin’ Porkers
  5. Wicked Que
  6. Killer B’s BBQ
  7. Pig Whisperers
  9. Pack-A-Smokes
  10. Screamin Nite Hog BBQ
 Before I left, I was able to get a couple of photos (although not as many as I wanted).  Check ’em out below!

In the Trenches: Competing at a KCBS-Sanctioned Competition

It all started in early 2010.  A couple of friends and I heard of a charity BBQ cook-off going on in Charlotte, and we decided to enter.  We entered 2 of the 4 categories and ended up taking 2nd place in both categories.  The competition bug bit me.

Fast forward almost a year, and I get another opportunity to help out on a competition team.  This time, the stakes are much bigger.  About two weeks ago, I got the opportunity to be a part of the Sir Porkalot BBQ team (@SirPorkaLot on Twitter) that competed at the BBQ Capital Cook-off in Lexington, NC (a KCBS-sanctioned competition).  I arrived with huge ambitions and an eagerness to learn.

There were a lot of well-known BBQ teams present at this competition, so I admit to being a bit starstruck.  Every one of the teams that I spoke with were very down to earth, friendly, and welcoming.  Even one of the most famous people in terms of competition barbecue (Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke) took time out to talk to me for at least a good 10-15 minutes.  Again, BBQ people are some of the friendliest on the face of this planet.

In short, many good times were had.  The banter flowed (as did the beer).  The food was excellent.  The sleep… well, there wasn’t much of that going on.  Overall, it was a great experience!  Anyone who can cook four different kinds of meat overnight to turn in at 30 minute intervals the next day has all the respect in the world in my book.  And even though the team may not have placed where we liked, I feel it’s a one-of-a-kind experience to be an active team member!

Oh yeah, don’t think for one minute that I forgot to go and take pictures!  There are several of those, but I’ve uploaded them to Facebook.  So you can view the pictures here.  And if you haven’t added me on Facebook, add me here!