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BBQ… The Competition

July 14, 2011

Food competitions have been going on for ages, and personally I love them because I always know I’m going to enjoy a delicious meal at the end. However, many food competitions, including the Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue Festival, have plenty of different rules and regulations that can be very confusing for someone not in the culinary world (like me).

So, I went on a little mission to figure out how this whole food competition works, so that when I spend my Saturday and Sunday enjoying some award-winning BBQ, I’ll know (kinda) what is going on there.

Over the two days of our barbecue festival, there will actually be TWO competitions going on – the Kansas City Barbecue Society Harpoon Championship of New England Barbecue on Saturday and the Harpoon Summer Sizzler, endorsed by the New England Barbecue Society, on Sunday.

The main difference between the two days will be that on Saturday the competition will be focused on BBQ, while Sunday’s will be focused on grilling.

The difference?

Barbecued meat is cooked at a low temperature for a longer period of time – which lends itself to a smokier flavor and increased tenderness. Grilled meat, on the other hand, is cooked at a high temperature for a shorter period of time – typically how burgers and hot dogs are cooked.

Now that we have that straight, I’ll first delve a little deeper into the Kansas City Barbecue Society . KCBS is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to promoting and enjoying BBQ, according to their website. They are also the world’s largest organization of BBQ and grilling enthusiasts – boasting more than 14,000 members around the world.

During Saturday’s competition, the 40+ teams competing will be scored on a point system, and the person with the highest point in a category wins the category. The team with the highest combined points from all categories will win the KCBS Championship!

The New England Barbecue Society was established in 1994 as a not-for-profit group of BBQ cooks and consumers. NEBS also prints a monthly publication about BBQ, along with making sure it offers New England grillers and BBQ aficionados the opportunity to learn various barbecue techniques using different methods.

A similar scoring method will also be used on Sunday to crown the NEBS Harpoon Sizzler Grand Champion.

And it’s no surprise that both have their own set of rules for competitions. Rules ranging from what your fire can be made from (wood, wood pellets or charcoal… no gas or electric heat sources for KCBS) to how you can put sauce on the meat, help make the event even more challenging and enjoyable for both the cooking teams and those who are trying the food.

To find out who won last year’s competition, click here.

So now that you know a little bit about the nitty, gritty details behind the competition, it’s time to prepare yourself to enjoy some of this delicious food – since many of the 40 teams competing will also be selling some of their award winning treats.

I also hear there will be fried Oreos.

On Saturday July 23, the event will run from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM (doors close at 6:30 PM), while on Sunday July 24, the event will run from 12:00 PM to 5:00 (doors close at 3:30 PM).

We look forward to seeing you in Windsor next weekend! What are you most looking forward to?

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