040 Ben – LIVE @ Rodeo Houston

040 Ben -

Let’s get into it folks. For our final episode recorded live at the Worlds BBQ Championships at Rodeo Houston, I hit the pavement to catch some interesting conversations with some interesting characters. Now, this was a long festival. We arrived to start set-up on the Wednesday and it was all done and dusted on the Saturday night so as you can imagine, the longer I spent hanging out with people the more I learned about them. I was also able network with a lot of new people which led to some of the upcoming episodes later in the series, and I even managed to catch up with my buddy Chris, who first invited me to the World’s BBQ Championships 3 years ago.  Check it out.


Black Angus Reserve, sponsors of Manning Valley Natural Smokers, have the best brisket you’ll find, hands down!

Wyld Smoke BBQ Seasoning is a local business using local ingredients on a national scale. Try the Makin’ Bacon – it’s my favourite!

Pits Perfect BBQ

Got all the gear and no idea? Australia-wide, Linda from Pit’s Perfect BBQ can help you out. Make sure you drop her a line.


With Craig Verhage from BBQ Ninja

  • He was at Houston last year and is always impressed by the event
  • Sites are about 40 yards long for the teams
  • He was there cooking a whole hog running-style for the team’s party
  • He was also cooking another one belly up, giving more bark
  • Tips for whole hog:
    • Get the right pit
    • What style of hog do you want to cook
    • Be consistent with those two elements
  • The new format of the competition whereby all teams have to cook all categories and the scores are accumulated, he was tipping Smoking Hot Smartfires

With Martin Gonzalez from the Horspitality Committee

  • He’s been going to the Houston competition for 15 years as part of the Committee
  • He personally cooks 3 meals a day for 50 people for 3 days
  • The Committee supports the people bringing their horses in for the show
    • They do Vet paper checks, stall allocations etc
  • They have 1000 people working as part of the Committee working 24 hours a day
  • The ‘Ride’n’Shoot’
    • Horses are ridden around obstacle courses and shoot balloons out of 6 shooter pellet guns
  • The whole event is to raise money for kids to go to college
    • They usually donate $27million USD per year

With Morgan Lundin from Lingon and Dill

  • The Texan hospitality has been the best he’s ever experienced
  • They had to spend a lot of time focussing on the competition as a lot of the products are not available in Sweden
  • Baby Back Ribs are the only type of ribs available in Sweden
  • No one has ever won the Houston competition with Baby Backs
  • A BBQ Association started in Sweden in 2013 and the scene is growing and growing
  • They won the Swedish BBQ Championships which got them to a competition in Ireland which attracted the attention of the Houston organisation
  • At BBQ competitions in Sweden and Europe, they are able to include vegetables with their hand-ins. In fact, it’s often a part of the rules to include a side-dish
  • Their dessert dish:
    • A chocolate mudcake with caramelised bananas and rum. Made a cream from that and filled the mudcake with that and toffee and then topped it with more chocolate
  • Their favourite hand-in is their ribs

With Todd and John from Half Fast Cookers

  • They’ve been there through most of the night
  • Half Fast cookers started at this competition in 1978
  • The competition started with their fathers
  • Todd and John have been cooking with the team for the last 7 years
  • They like their ribs most, then chicken, then brisket
  • Texas judges are looking for something that catches their eye
    • That one bite really needs to stand out
    • The ribs need to be sweet and savoury with a nice glaze
  • A Texas brisket is a very simple product cooked with salt and pepper over post-oak
  • Competition briskets are being injected and soaked in Crown
  • There are many cook-offs in the Texas area that require box dressing like parsley. The most you can do at Houston is some tin foil
    • The judges are more interested in the taste, texture and smell
    • Despite all the technology in BBQ, judges still want it to look and taste like traditionally smoked proteins

With Chris Stutsman from Slow Cookers at Play

  • Chris first contacted me 3 years ago about the Houston BBQ Comp
  • He’s been cooking at Houston for 16 years with 6 years running his own team
  • To create their sites:
    • They start planning in May for the following February
    • They start collecting sponsors straight away to pay for everything
    • They have 12 team members for labour, a couple of guys to do the cooking for the parties and a couple of people cooking for the comps
  • He’ll serve 600 people in a night, serving 1500 lbs of meat, two pallets of beer and a couple of cases of wine
  • Their catering and comp meat is essentially the same – the same basic rubs and presentation
    • The final presentation is often not as good for the catering proteins as they cook differently when there’s 40 briskets in there instead of two
  • There’s a lot of pepper in Texan BBQ. Lots of Cayenne. Not as sweet and not as much Mustard either.

The Awards Ceremony


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