Behind the Grill: A Day in the Life of a BBQ Competition Team


The sun rises on a crisp Saturday morning- BBQ competition, casting a warm glow over rows of smoky grills and the excited chatter of BBQ enthusiasts. It’s the day of barbecue competition, an event where grilling aficionados from all walks of life gather to showcase their skills, share their passion for the art of barbecue, and compete for glory, trophies, and, in some cases, substantial cash prizes.

These gatherings are more than just culinary competitions; they’re a vibrant subculture that brings people together over the flames and smoke of the grill. In this article, we’ll take you behind the scenes and offer a glimpse into the captivating world of BBQ competitions, following the journey of a BBQ competition team from sunrise to sunset.

The Early Rise

Before the sun peeks over the horizon, the members of the BBQ competition team are already wide awake, their excitement barely contained. The day begins with a flurry of activity as they load their gear into their trusty old pickup truck, carefully stacking bags of charcoal, wood chips, and an array of cooking utensils. The grill, their most prized possession, is polished and prepped, its grates gleaming in the dim light of the early morning.

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The Secret Weapon: The Meat

Meat is the heart and soul of any BBQ competition. Each team selects their cuts with meticulous care, opting for the finest quality meats they can find. The competition categories often include pork ribs, beef brisket, chicken, and pork shoulder. It’s not just about picking the best meat; it’s also about choosing the right spices and creating a unique flavor profile. The secret weapon of any BBQ competition team is their rub – a carefully crafted blend of spices and herbs that adds that signature flavor to their dishes.

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Setting Up Camp

Once they arrive at the competition site, the team members hustle to set up their cooking area, which often resembles a mini outdoor kitchen. Tents are raised, tables are arranged, and grills are positioned with precision. It’s a choreography of teamwork, where each member knows their role like a well-rehearsed play.

The Smoke and Fire Dance

As the morning sun creeps higher in the sky, the smoke begins to rise, and the aroma of sizzling meat fills the air. The grill becomes the stage, and the team, the performers. They work in harmony, applying their rubs, adjusting the heat, and monitoring the temperature. BBQ competitions are as much a culinary art as they are a science, and these teams have spent countless hours perfecting their techniques.

The Waiting Game

While the meat slowly transforms into tender, smoky perfection, there’s a lot of downtime in a BBQ competition. The team members use this time to engage with fellow competitors, share stories, and even exchange tips and tricks. The camaraderie in the BBQ competition world is something truly special. Competitors often form lasting friendships that transcend the boundaries of the competition circuit.

Judging Time

The moment of truth arrives as the team prepares their dishes for the judges. Each entry is meticulously presented on a bed of green lettuce, garnished with sprigs of fresh herbs. The judges, with their keen eyes and discerning palates, evaluate the entries based on several criteria: appearance, taste, texture, and overall impression. The competition is fierce, but the judges are fair, and they know good barbecue when they taste it.

The Awards Ceremony

After hours of anticipation, it’s time for the awards ceremony. The tension is palpable as the competitors gather around the stage, their hearts pounding with excitement and anxiety. The crowd cheers as the winners are announced, and the triumphant BBQ teams take the stage to accept their trophies and cash prizes. The joy and satisfaction on their faces are evident, the reward for months of hard work, dedication, and love for the art of grilling.

A Way of Life

BBQ competitions are more than just one-off events; they’re a way of life for many. These teams are not just weekend warriors; they’re passionate individuals who live and breathe barbecue. Their pursuit of perfection in the realm of smoke and fire is a lifelong commitment.

The Unseen Challenges

Behind the scenes, there are numerous challenges that competition BBQ teams face. The weather is a constant factor, and teams must be prepared to adapt to whatever nature throws their way. Rain, wind, or scorching heat can wreak havoc on a well-laid grilling plan. Additionally, the logistics of transporting equipment, securing competition spots, and dealing with unforeseen technical difficulties can be formidable obstacles. However, it’s the resilience, adaptability, and unwavering dedication of these teams that keep them coming back for more.

The Heart of BBQ Competitions: Community

One of the most beautiful aspects of BBQ competitions is the sense of community that permeates these events. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a newcomer just dipping your toes into the world of grilling, you’re likely to be welcomed with open arms. Teams often help each other out, sharing equipment, ingredients, and advice. BBQ competitions are a place where the love for good food and camaraderie triumphs over fierce competition.

The Legacy of BBQ Competitions

BBQ competitions have a rich history that dates back decades, and they’ve played a pivotal role in preserving and promoting traditional barbecue techniques and flavors. These events celebrate the diversity of barbecue styles, from the sweet and smoky Kansas City style to the vinegar-based sauces of the Carolinas. They’re a testament to the regional variations and innovations that have shaped American barbecue.

In addition to preserving tradition, BBQ competitions have contributed to the culinary world by inspiring innovation. New techniques, flavor combinations, and cooking methods often emerge from these competitions, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on a grill or smoker.


As the sun sets on another BBQ competition day, the team members pack up their gear, weary but content. They leave with memories of laughter, the camaraderie of the BBQ community, and the thrill of the grill. BBQ competitions are more than just culinary contests; they’re a celebration of passion, dedication, and the simple joy of cooking over an open flame. The world behind the grill is a world of smoke and fire, but it’s also a world of friendship, tradition, and endless culinary possibilities. Whether you’re a competitor or a spectator, a BBQ competition is an experience you won’t soon forget.


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