Thursday, June 24, 2010

Weighing In On BBQ Pitmasters Season 2

Recently there was a press release regarding the second season of BBQ Pitmasters on the TLC network that left the BBQ world scratching our collective heads. A change in format from season one has everyone wondering what will happen to "our" show? The release talked about celebrity judges and a format that is reminiscent of the cook-off show that appeared a few years back (the one Mike Davis won) on the Versus network.

I have to admit at first I was a little disappointed at the news. After hearing John Markus on Greg Rempe's BBQ Central Radio Show, I have a better understanding why the change was made. Bottom line - it is a business. The ratings for season one were decent but not great. Football and the break out success of "Jersey Shore" made it an uphill climb. According to John, the network could not understand why the teams were not winning every week (Hey, welcome to the world of bbq!) and that the show was not good enough to support another season like the first. A compromise was made resulting in the change of the format.

Filming for season 2 started in Los Angeles yesterday. Four different teams will compete in 5 episodes with the winners competing against each other in the final episode. The celebrity judges are Myron Mixon, Southern Chef Art Smith and ex-NFL star Warren Sapp. The show's host will be Kevin Roberts (the French's mustard shooter) who has been described as a high enery ring-master. The teams that were selected will represent the the entire picture of competition barbecue. They were chosen for their TV appeal, energy and bbq competency (apparently our audition tape missed the mark or we wore out our welcome on season one, either way we needed some shtick and didn't have it.) John said we will see familiar faces and some that should have been on previous barbecue shows but were not.

Season 2 is scheduled to debut this August. Myron Mixon will be one of the remaining straws we can hold on to from the previous season. I am sure he will not disappoint us with his candid opinions, southern colloquialisms and colorful language. Unless someone turns in something completely awful, he should be a strong defender of the cooks to the other judges. That interaction will be fun to watch.

Regardless of what you think of the new format, the impact of season one has been very apparent as it has brought more new teams to the competition circuit this year than ever before. Though we may never see a series dedicated to competition barbecue like season one was, anything on television about barbecue is always good thing!

Good luck to all of the teams competing on season 2!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Belton v. Raytown

Roe v. Wade, Cain v. Abel or Lakers v. Celtics - we all have our battles. For us, it was Belton v. Raytown. Two contests where we followed the same road but ended up at different destinations.

At Belton, fresh off of our Springfield success, we thought we were cruising down the barbecue road in a Cadillac. The barbecue world is a cruel mistress and our Cadillac ended up being a broken down Pinto as we limped to our destination. Upon arrival, we were rear ended and our Pinto, along with our dreams of a top 10 finish, went up in a ball of flames! Thirty four teams did battle and we finish in the middle at 17th. No top ten calls for us that weekend. We tuck our tail between our legs, take our smokers and go home. Gone too is the swagger of Springfield and what we are left with is the second guessing of our skills, processes and presentations. It was a weekend to forget.

Enter the dragon that is Raytown. We backed off competing for over a month before deciding to do Raytown. Humbled by our last experience , we needed to take a more serious approach to what we were doing. The weather was hot with a chance of showers. We hope we can get the cook in without any rain. At 10:15am on Saturday morning, a torrential downpour rolls in. Wind, rain and lightning roll through the contest area. The timing couldn't have been worse. Our chicken goes on at 10:30am and all I can think about is trying to keep the cooker at the temperature we need while a river of water rolls through our prep area. Brant and I our holding on to the ez-ups with thoughts of disaster racing through my head. This is the first time we have ever faced such a ferocious storm while competing. When it's all over, sixty-five teams go into the water and 10 come out on top. The barbecue sharks get the rest. We finish 7th out of the 65 teams overall with a 2nd place rib call and a 4th place brisket call. We did exactly what we set out to do. Finish in the top 10 overall and have at least one call. Mission accomplished! We have the Cadillac back but now we need to remember to respect the road.

Now we reach our down time. We have an event to cook for in July down in Grand Lake, OK and probably won't compete again until mid August in Springfield, MO. Then another break and finish the season at the American Royal in early October. Hopefully, we can continue our winning ways. It would be nice to cook more events to help us be more consistent but the current financial status just won't allow it. So I'll sit back, wait and watch from afar.