[FTC Standard Disclaimer] My travel expenses for this event were paid for by a representative of Smithfield.
In boxing, you will hear the term "Unified Champion." That is because there are different sanctioning bodies - WBO, WBC, IBF, etc. Each organization might have its own champion. When things align, and the same person wins championships from the WBO, WBC, or IBF, that is referred to as a Unified Champion.
Over the past year, Smithfield created a unified championship across the BBQ sanctioning bodies when they established the Smokin' With Smithfield National Barbecue Championship, which was held in New Orleans last weekend. I was lucky enough to be invited to tag along as part of the media team. Here are scenes from this inaugural championship.
|The event was held in New Orleans, so naturally, they had a Mardi Gras theme going on.|
This unified championship started long before last weekend.
- Two years ago, it began as an idea - a points chase across BBQ sanctioning bodies culminating in the top group going head to head in a "back-to-back-to-back" triple-contest.
- Last year, teams signed up at Smokin' With Smithfield and BBQData began tracking the points of the 370 registered teams.
- After a full year of competitions, the top 24 teams were invited to the Smokin' With Smithfield National Barbecue Championship.
I loved that this contest didn't get into silly stuff that televised food competitions do, like mystery proteins and special challenges. They kept it to traditional BBQ contest formats - who can cook the best chicken, pork ribs, pork, and brisket.
Another refreshing spin they did to level the playing field was that everyone was cooking with the same set of meats:
- Ribs and pork from Smithfield
- Chicken and brisket from The Butcher Shoppe in Pensacola.
The organizers did their best to have evenly sized meats divided up into Yeti 65 coolers. Then teams are drawn by a bingo-style ping-pong ball dispenser to determine who gets which cooler. You can't get fairer than that.
|It's a good thing these are heavy or I might have grabbed one and run off with it :) The pork was provided by Smithfield and the brisket and chicken by The Butcher Shoppe.|
Because of travel arrangements and work, a lot of the media team did not make it in until after Day 1 was in the books. The 12 teams advancing on to the second round were: