Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ Takes Top Prize at the 2013 Kingsford Invitational
November 13, 2013
This Veteran’s Day weekend, eight of the country’s top BBQ teams converged on New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for the second annual winner-take-all Kingsford Invitational, including:
- Across the Track Cook-off Team (winners of the 2013 Houston Livestock & Rodeo)
- Sweet Swine O’ Mine (winners of the 2013 Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest)
- Pork & Mindy (winners of the 2013 Great Lenexa BBQ Battle)
- Pellet Envy (winners of Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters season 4)
- 3 Eyz BBQ (Kansas City Barbeque Society’s 2012 Team of the Year)
- Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ (winners of the 2013 American Royal World Series of Barbecue Open)
- Cool Smoke (winners of the 2013 Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue)
- Queology (military team representing the Folds of Honor Foundation)
With a $50,000 grand prize and ultimate bragging rights on the line, the competition couldn’t have been fiercer, beginning with Friday’s One Bite Challenge presented by Walmart. Contestants were given Walmart USDA Choice Premium Steaks and an hour to prepare a single bite size serving of an original steak recipe using 5 ingredients or less. Once prepared, entries were presented to this year’s esteemed panel of Kingsford Invitational judges including Amy Mills of 17th Street Bar & Grill; Melissa Cookston of Memphis Barbecue Co. and winner of the 2012 Kingsford Invitational; Brad Orrison of The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint; whole hog master Ed Mitchell; and the godfather of Nuevo Latino cuisine, Douglas Rodriguez. Pitmaster extraordinaire Chris Lilly served as host of the event as well as the tie-breaking judge.
Each bite brought something special to the judges table — From the Texas-inspired jalapeño heat of the Across the Tracks entry to the surf-and-turf style crab and steak entry from Pork N’ Mindy – but in the end it was Cool Smoke’s steak with balsamic reduction and bacon that ultimately ruled the day and awarded pitmaster Tuffy Stone $5,000 and a one point advantage going in to the main competition.
After the dust had settled from the One Bite Challenge, teams immediately jumped back in to competition gear and began prepping their chicken, ribs, pork (shoulder, butt, or whole hog), and brisket for Saturday’s big contest.
But this weekend wasn’t just about crowning barbecue’s best-of-the-best, it was also a tribute to the men and women who have served and those who continue to serve our great country. To commemorate the weekend, Clorox CEO Don Knauss was on hand to make a $50,000 donation on behalf of Kingsford to the non-profit Folds of Honor Foundation to provide scholarships to the children and spouses of service members killed in action or disabled while protecting our great freedoms. Teams also took time out of their competition schedules to show their support for the crew of the USS New York, a ship that was forged from the steel of the World Trade Center, as it docked for the holiday weekend next to the competition site.
Soon their attention was back on the contest, firing up their smokers for a long night of low-and-slow cooking. As the first turn-in approached, teams rushed to put the final touches on their perfectly sauced and seasoned chicken entries. Once submitted, it was on to the rib category, followed by pork shoulder/butt/whole hog, and brisket. Having had the opportunity to sample many of the entries, it was apparent that this was going to be a tight race across the board and that any one of these eight teams could walk away with the Kingsford Invitational title later in the evening.
The judging panel deliberated long and hard over each entry and upon their completion, scores were tallied and the teams made their way to the Intrepid’s flight deck for the awards ceremony.
In first place for the chicken category was 3 Eyz BBQ; Cool Smoke for the ribs category; Sweet Swine O’ Mine for pork shoulder/butt/whole hog; and Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ for brisket. The race for the overall winner was then narrowed down to just three teams – 3 Eyz BBQ, Sweet Swine O’ Mine, and Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ.
In the end it was Darren and Sherry Warth of Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ who were named the 2013 Kingsford Invitational winners, taking home the giant Kingsford cup, the Kingsford Invitational championship ring and a check for $50,000. The entire event was filmed by Destination America for a special to air next summer.
Here’s a look at the final moments of the awards ceremony as well as an interview with the newly crowned champions.