I am excited to announce BBQ CRITIC will be judging the Famous Dave's All-Star Series in Sioux City, IA (July 22nd) and help spread the word online. This is going to be a fun BBQ year for me.
Based in Cedar Rapids, IA, my BBQ journey began in 2008 when I became a Certified BBQ Judge (CBJ) with the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) with my friend Mike Hall. In just two years (2010), we both became a KCBS Master BBQ Judge.
We judged almost every weekend and ventured out to contests all over the midwest. We were on fire! We both simply loved BBQ, which fueled all our road trips.
Those early days left us with a lot of great memories and we developed life-long friendships with judges, cooks and contest organizers. What really kept my interest in competition BBQ was the camaraderie among cooks, judges and everyone involved. The mutual love for BBQ is our bond and it's contagious! New cooks and judges are getting on-board each year. Now it's time to spice things up.
Recently I became a "Licensed to E.A.T." certified judge with the World Food Championships. The food entries at the All-Star BBQ Series will be judged using the WFC proprietary E.A.T. Methodology and require a silver platter turn-in process (I will be writing more about the judging process later).
A press release stated, "Judging each event will be a group of local celebrities, Famous Dave’s franchise owners, and occasionally even Famous Dave Anderson himself, who started the franchise in Hayward, Wisconsin. Their expert opinions will be critical to choosing the winners..."
Usually I am inside a building or a pop up tent to judge BBQ at a contest. The judging at this event will be presented in an open, live presentation format that consumers and fans can watch. Now that will be a different setting - and fun!
"This is an exciting moment for Famous Dave’s of America," said Dallas Massey in a press release (VP of Marketing & Off-Premise for FDA). "Competition barbecue has always been an important part of our legacy and our Brand, with Famous Dave Anderson leading the way from our very beginning in 1994. Throughout our nearly 30-year history, we've found that competitions lead to innovation for our industry."
I first met Famous Dave Anderson in 2014 at the original Famous Dave's in Hayward, WI. I was excited to finally visit this place. I made a quick post on Facebook that I had just arrived and in just minutes Dave responded back, "I am on my way there!"
This was BBQ serendipity at its finest!
What a thrill it was to meet this legendary pitmaster by surprise at his own original restaurant (which sadly burnt down later that year). It was one gorgeous place located right on Round Lake. You can click on the link at the end of this column to read the full review. Below is a short video interview I did with Dave that very day..
"This All-Star series will be a very exciting program for the world of Food Sport," said Mike McCloud, President of WFC. "Not only will it feature both celebrity and emerging pitmasters throughout the country, but it will be focused on educating and entertaining barbecue fans in a way that is unique and groundbreaking from a number of perspectives. From free food samples to pitmaster tips and techniques, barbecue fans will have the chance to improve their smoking skills by visiting one of these contests."
Clearly the partnership with Famous Dave's of America and the World Food Championships is a perfect match.
The World Food Championships is the highest stakes food competition in the world featuring a multi-day, live event culinary competition showcasing some of the world's best cooks who compete for food, fame and fortune. Combine that with Famous Dave's of America which has 117 locations in 31 states and two countries, including 29 company-owned and 98 franchise-operated restaurants. Famous Dave's is known for its on-premise real pit smokers, scratch-recipe cooking, and 700 national and regional awards for everything from Best Ribs to Best Barbecue Sauce to Best Cookbook. And of course there is Famous Dave Anderson himself who started it all. He will be judging some of contests. BAM!
Each contest will feature six barbecue teams, a $5,000 prize purse, and two golden tickets for the Grand Champion and the Reserve Grand Champion to move on to the WFC super event in November. Now this is very exciting.
Each contestant in the Famous Dave's All-Star BBQ Series will have to create at least three entries at the contests, including Chicken, Pork Ribs, and a special Wild Card menu dish.
Each division will have a winner. Overall points from all categories will determine the Grand prize winners of the Golden Tickets.
Teams, sign up now! There are no entry fees! You will have to register your team at www.worldfoodchampionships.com/allstars in your respective region.
Vegas Blue Diamond, Las Vegas, NV (May 13th)
El Paso, TX (June 3rd)
Hermitage/Nashville, TN (June 10th)
Long Beach, CA (June 17th)
Pacific Northwest TBD (June 24th)
Addison, IL (July 8th)
Westland, MI (July 15)
Sioux City, IA (July 22)
Billings, MT (July 29)
Colorado TBD (Aug 5th)
San Jose, CA (Aug 12th)
Rancho Cucamonga, CA (Aug 19th)
Minnetonka, MN (Aug 19th)
Taylor, MI (Aug 26th)
Massey concluded, "We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the World Food Championships and hope to motivate great barbecue teams throughout the country. We expect to see a lot of innovative ideas that can possibly be integrated into our menu as we look to bring new and exciting culinary options to our guests."
I am excited BBQ CRITIC will be a participant in the Famous Dave's All-Star BBQ Series . Thank you, Famous Dave Anderson, for your help in making this happen.