Destination America “Smoked” – Battle of the Barbecue Teachers – Part 1 of 2
As an enthusiast, a neighborhood barbecue competition can set you on edge. For a seasoned competitor, there’s always one event or one team that fires up your competitive nature and gives you a little butterfly in your stomach.
For a seasoned barbecue instructor, there is always the question as to who runs the best “dojo” in America.
What if you are only competing with only one other person? What if that person is a “rival”? AND what if the whole thing will be filmed… AND aired on national television? That’s a whole other ballgame!
This summer, Destination America channel debuted a new TV series SMOKED. The premiere was June 1. Here’s how the show is described: “In each episode, two pitmasters with a personal history are pitted against each other in a BBQ battle to prove once and for all who’s the best and who’s gonna get smoked. Along with a rotating panel of all-star judges, three-time world barbecue champion Myron Mixon – the winningest man in barbecue – guides the action and ultimately decides the competitors’ fate.”
I was really jazzed when Destination America invited me to compete against legendary Mike Davis of Lotta Bull BBQ on this new show in an episode “Battle of the Barbecue Teachers“. We were asked to bring our star pupils as assistants. I recruited my top student Mike Lindley from Smoking Mo’s BBQ and Mike brought his top-pick Barry Johnson from Swiggin’ Pig BBQ. The winner gets the Smoked trophy and $5,000, while the loser has to make a social media video promoting the winner’s BBQ school. Ouch… a very clever move on the show’s part, I thought.
The guest judges were Brad Orrison and Melissa Cookston… just to add more pressure, they are friends of mine and winning competitors whom I highly respect. I cut my TV teeth earlier this year on Cutthroat Kitchen “License to Grill” and had issues with my frog legs burger and cross-grill challenge. Having been on a studio set and understanding how they put these shows together helped calm my nerves, but it’s still a big challenge to be on a new show.
Each competition was broken down into three rounds:
- The Long Cook starts with eight hours on the clock and a race to cook a perfect cut of meat such as pork shoulder, ribs or brisket.
- While the smoker does its job, the Kingsford One Bite Challenge gives the pitmasters 30 minutes to create the ultimate grilled bite prepared over Kingsford charcoal.
- Finally, the Big Grill-Off sends the pitmasters off to the races with a challenge unique to each rivalry such as crafting an entire meal on the grill or creating multiple dishes using the same protein. Along the way, judges name a winner of each round and whoever comes out ahead wins the glory, a cash prize, and a shot at the finale.
We taped in Austin in January 2016, and the segment will air on June 29, so, yes, I could tell you what happens, but I am not going to. First the Destination America Channel might disown me and, second, I think the lessons from this are more valuable than the win or loss for either dojo.