America has been in love with barbecue for decades. It’s one of the few food types that is truly American. Who doesn’t love the smell of smoke and brisket, pork or chicken wafting from a barbecue restaurant or someone’s backyard? On any list of comfort foods, barbecue is right up there with any of them.
These days, barbecue has become big business. Television shows like BBQ Pitmasters (new season has begun Sunday evenings at 8 PM CST on Destination America Network) and various programs that feature “que” on Food Network have done much to take the cuisine to new heights. Suddenly, Americans, already enamored with competition in general, are in love with barbecue contests. Did you know that there are close to 1,000 professionally sanctioned barbecue competitions all across the United States each year? Add to that countless non-sanctioned contests for fun and bragging rights and a whole new culture has developed.
The largest sanctioning body in the barbecue world is located right here in Kansas City – the Kansas City Barbeque Society (http://www.KCBS.us). I am fortunate enough to have been competing in these sanctioned events for almost eight years and, for the last year, have served on the Board of Directors for this great organization. The KCBS has more than 17,000 members worldwide and countless others who compete in the approximately 400 events it sanctions in all corners of America. KCBS has done much to promote competition barbecue and the cuisine in general through its educational programs, knowledge base, philanthropic efforts and marketing. The organization is the go-to source for anything barbecue related, including recipes, competitions, education and history.
This weekend, the KCBS celebrates another year of successes and friendships during its annual meetings and awards banquet in Kansas City. The banquet has been held in various cities such as Nashville, San Diego and Philadelphia for the benefit of all members but every other year, it comes back home to Kansas City. This two day celebration of barbecue includes rules meetings, a contest organizer roundtable, meetings for contest representatives and certified BBQ judges, along with a board of directors meeting and culminating with a banquet and presentation of awards to the top teams across the country for the previous year. It is truly a weekend that brings together the best names in the barbecue community to brainstorm, share ideas, best practices and plan to enable KCBS to promote America’s cuisine to new levels in the coming year.
If you have an interest in barbecue, whether it’s competing, judging or just cooking better barbecue, I urge you to take a look at the KCBS website and find them on Facebook. If you want to see a fun glimpse into this event, check out live webcast video at http://www.wiredbbq.com. I personally believe that barbecue makes the world a better place. And who wouldn’t want to be a part of something like that?