Barbecue Competition at It’s Finest at the 1st Annual Kingsford InvitationalBefore I tell you a bit about my experience, I want to thank the amazing people at Kingsford Charcoal for selecting me to have this amazing experience it was truly an “epic weekend,” and I was really proud to be apart of it in a very small way. {Click here to view all of my great photos from my adventure to the 1st Annual Kingsford Invitational}

Okay, enough fluff, lets get down to the nitty gritty of the competition. We all know that there are many barbecue competitions during the year that say that they are the ultimate barbecue competition: we are talking about Memphis in May, The American Royal and the Jack specifically. While I think that they are all great barbecue competitions, I really think that there needs to be 1 barbecue competition that is the SUPER BOWL of barbecue competitions, because in my mind without a barbecue competition that will crown the ultimate barbecue competition, in my mind there is a sense that every winner can claim that they are the best. Enter Kingsford charcoal and the 1st Annual Kingsford Invitational.

Yazoo Delta Q: Grand Champion of the 1st Annual Kingsford Barbecue Invitational

Given the fact that all contests span several organizing bodies, Kingsford came up with a blend of categories certain to appease all of the qualifying cooks. Here’s is how Kingsford arranged the categories: Ribs, Chicken, Brisket and here is where the twist came in the teams had a choice to barbecue either pork shoulder or a whole hog. In addition to these four standard categories, Kingsford came up with a fifth category titled: the “best bite.” The teams using food of their choice had to demonstrate their fire-fuled cooking chops and represent their home region. This could include anything from more traditional items, such as regional sausage or smoked turkey legs to non-traditional fire-kissed foods, such as wild game from the team’s last hunting trip, an inspired backyard burger or even dessert. The team with the “best bite” was rewarded one additional point in the overall competition. {Click here to follow Grilling with Rich on Instagram}

Qualifying teams are as follows:

• Motley Que Crew, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest Grand Champion
• Yazoo’s Delta Q, Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest Grand Champion
• Smokin’ Triggers BBQ, BBQ Pitmasters Grand Champion
• Smokers Purgatory, Great Lenexa BBQ Battle Grand Champion
• Shiggin’ & Grinnin’, American Royal World Series of Barbecue Open Contest Grand Champion
• Lucky’s Q, Sam’s Club National BBQ Championship Grand Champion
• Pig Skin BBQ, Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue
• Checkered Pig, Kingsford 40k Challenge Representative (competition team that earns the highest score at one of the 15 sanctioned events)

Teams: The one aspect of the barbecue competition that was a bit controversial and had a lot of those who were around covering the event was how the teams were selected. I really felt that Kingsford did a great job of picking the correct barbecue competitions. The one competition that I think that they should have added a slots for regional barbecue competitions such as a winner from a Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, SouthWest, and West coast you can really get a lot of different barbecue teams and have each region really represented. I do understand the need from Kingsford to keep the competition a bit small, but I really think the more the merrier and therefore the winner will be able to really say that they are the BEST in the country!

Judging: Among those select to carefully choose the best-cooked barbecue include Tuffy Stone, Harry Soo, Brad Orrison, Ardie Davis PhB, Amy Mills, and Grilling.com VIP blogger Meathead from AmazingRibs.com. I think that Kingsford did a great job in selecting the correct judges. I asked a rep from Kingsford on what type of personalities and also backgrounds were they looking for, and by seeing this list they were spot on. Of course, I think that there was one blogger who should have been put into the mix, but I will not mention who! {click here to follow Grilling with Rich on Twitter}

Judges and Chris Lilly of the 1st Annual Kingsford Invitational in Belle, MO

One Bite Challenge: Being able to try each entry and also see the recipes for all, I was not surprised at all, about the winner for the One Bite Challenge and the eventual winner of the whole thing. Yazoo’s Delta Q’s Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp was amazing and it was filled with some amazing flavors that were balanced and also just mind blowing. Don’t get me wrong here, there were some other great entries. My second favorite was Motley Que Crew’s Tiger Steak, Motley Que’d. The reason why I really enjoyed this one also is because it really reminded me of a steak on a potato latke which makes total sense because the steak was resting on shredded fried potatoes and that is what a potato latke is. My last favorite was Checkered Pig BBQ’s Blue Cheese Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms. Overall, I really enjoyed everyone’s entries in the one-bite challenge and it was a great way to see some creativity in a barbecue competition that can get a bit formulaic in the cooking.

Actual competition: Out of five categories, four were won by one team: Yazoo’s Delta Q. Before the award was given out (It was a Kingsford Cup, which looked a lot like the Stanley Cup), I had a chance to do some taste testing myself. I have heard how amazing Melissa Cookston’s whole hog was, and boy were they ever right! The taste of the bacon and also the pulled pork was amazing, it had all the great flavors and it wasn’t overly smoky and it was just like butter in your mouth. It was truly an amazing experience to taste something that remarkable. In addition to Melissa’s whole hog, I got a chance to taste a pork rib from here smoker. Again, the flavors were amazing and also it wasn’t too sweet but it wasn’t to spicy and had the perfect tenderness. I personally think that EVERYONE in the barbecue community needs to experience.

The one category that she didn’t win was Brisket, and I could see why. I personally loved Pig Skin BBQ’s brisket as it was nice and tender and full of flavor, it was something that I need to personally find out how to re-create.

Overall thoughts: I think that by starting the Kingsford Invitational, Kingsford charcoal has put together an event that will become a must win and every serious barbecue competition team will want to be apart of in the coming years. Despite some grumblings on the internet about the various ways in which Kingsford has chosen the participants, I think that within a couple of years, or even sooner all that will go away. But for this year, I do agree with the barbecue contests that were chosen as by making the categories a bit diverse they were able to really incorporate the true essence of barbecue competitions. I am looking forward to seeing and also meeting the winner’s of the second Annual Kingsford Invitational

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