They don’t call it The World Series of BBQ for nothing… the American Royal surpassed all my expectations about what a BBQ competition would be like. Think of it as tailgating on steroids minus the sports. It’s held over three days inside the track at the Kansas Speedway; you could not have found a more appropriate venue than this 75,000-capacity NASCAR stadium for an event filled with other great American dude pastimes like meat, smoke and booze. And apparently bacon pants.
More than 400 teams from near and far competed for ultimate BBQ glory. Near the Smokin’ Bunz tent alone, we met the Japan BBQ Shogun Society, Craft & Cleaver from the UK, as well as teams from Germany, South Korea, Quebec and more. There were plenty of local entries with magnificent names and logos I could devote an entire post to like Overland Pork BBQ, Redneck Scientific, Inhognito, Grills Gone Wild, Pork Illustrated, Pig Newton and the Dead Poultry Society.
The Smokin’ Bunz team moved into their tent at the Speedway around dawn on Saturday and began smoking the first round of meat for the party Saturday night. I don’t know if it was the intense smell of smoke, crowding around standing tables with the whole family or just darn good food, but this was a spectacular meal. We feasted on brisket, chicken wings, ribs and assorted other pork parts complemented by a massive tray of coleslaw my mom whipped up. Because, vegetables.
When we left around 9:30 Saturday evening, the Smokin’ Bunz team was just getting started. They spent Saturday night at the Speedway prepping for their Sunday “Turn In,” or official entry of chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and sausage. Mike and Jeff came back home Sunday late afternoon exhausted, smelling of smoke and anxious to hear their scores.
Smokin’ Bunz came in #247 out of 407 teams overall for the open competition. They ranked 53rd for chicken, 250th for ribs, 249th for pork, 341st for brisket and 189th out of 197 for sausage. I am super impressed and am grateful to have gotten to help consume some of that sweet, sweet meat.
Having only experienced this as a guest and not a competitor, I think I learned that the beauty of the American Royal and BBQ in general is about slowing down. In a world where faster is better, smoking meat is a process that cannot be rushed. We should all be so lucky as to have such a passion for something and people we like enough that we want to spend two days with them just chewing the fat. So to speak.
Two Happy Cooks