Memphis doesn’t mess around when it comes to BBQ. They call their title BBQ contest the World Championship of BBQ and the most coveted prize is the Whole Hog. But there is a Grand Champion that enters multiple categories. Teams come from around the globe to be judged in the Memphis World Championship of BBQ. For 2014, the Grand Champion is Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q from Decatur, Alabama. The whole hog winner is Yazoo’s Delta Q from Hernando, Mississippi. But interestingly, second place in the whole hog competition went to British Bulldog BBQ from Farnham, Surrey, England.
What’s in a BBQ Title?
For many, the Memphis World Championship of BBQ is considered the Super Bowl of Swine. First established in 1978 with only 26 teams competing, this year there were 244 teams competing for $110,000 in cash prizes. But it’s really about the bragging rights that come with a title much more than the money because entry fees can be as high as $5,000 depending on how much real estate you need to set up your BBQ operation. And that’s before you create your one-of-a-kind slow roaster (this year one was made from a 1954 Willys Jeep) and all of the other creative makings for your BBQ camp.
The Memphis World Championship is one of the three biggest competitions in the nation (probably the world) and the only one to include the category of “Whole Hog”. The competition is spread out over four days.
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q didn’t just win the grand championship this year, they set a new record as the winningest team with their fourth championship and with a fourth win in the pork shoulder category.
What Goes in a Winning Recipe
According to Big Bob, it’s mostly time, smoke, and fire. His process takes 20 hours to smolder the perfect piece of pork. He started Friday afternoon by injecting an apple-juice based brine into the pork and applying his secret rub before beginning the smoking over a 225 degree fire. It’s an all night endeavor in preparation for the judging on Saturday at 11 o’clock. He smokes the 20 pound piece of meat for 18 hours and lets’ it rest for an hour before judging. Resting is taking the meat off the smoke to allow the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the large piece of meat.
Judging at the Memphis BBQ World Championship is a slightly complicated process. There are three rounds of judging. First, there are four judges that have to take an eight-hour class on judging BBQ that then are presented with six “blind” boxes of meat from each category. They are only allowed to give a perfect score to one box per category. Next comes the controversial on-site judging by expert BBQ chefs. This is the judging where the contestants serve up their best cuts of meat. It’s controversial because the cooks are allowed to put up a white tablecloth with arrangements (such as flowers) and B.S. with the judges to improve their scores.
After the first two judging rounds, the scores are announced. The top three teams from each category (ribs, shoulder, and whole hog) are given two hours to prepare for the final judging. The final judging is a lightening round visit by four judges all at once. Presentation is just as important as taste because the difference in final scores is often no more than a few hundredths of a point.
That hundreds of a point win gives the BBQ chef bragging rights as the winner of the Memphis BBQ World Championship. What follows is a two block long line of high paying customers outside of your restaurant back home and several TV appearances. In the case of the 2013 winner, it became a TV series on the Food Network. It’s all about the championship title.
Please leave a comment if this article was helpful or if you have a question.
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 30 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years. He also draws upon 25 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest in the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.