Food Stories

Documentary shorts — unscripted — featuring farmers, artisans, and others

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Journey of a Barbecue Champion (video)

September 27, 2010. At the end of this week in Kansas City, is the 31st annual American Royal Barbecue Event, among the largest gathering of BBQ enthusiasts and serious BBQ competition cooks in the world. Sporting both an Open Competition, that draws barbecue teams from across the country, some even from other countries, and an Invitational Event where only the top teams are invited to participate, it’s as much about winning bragging rights as it is about the prize winnings that total in the tens of thousands of dollars.

This is a story of a seasoned BBQ champion, Larry Mayes, and his quest to win at the American Royal that I produced specifically for CUpS in 2006. For those who may want more, here’s additional information about the feature length DVD, Inside The World of Championship Barbecue that this shorter story is based upon.

It’s a long road, and it’s not easy, a personal look at a barbecue world champion:

Background:

Larry and Ginny Mayes; American Royal Barbecue 2003

While living in Memphis for a short time in 2003, I began research for an upcoming film project about barbecue competitions, and that is when I first met Larry Mayes. He was then the head cook (and only remaining Larry) of 2 Fat Larrys, a veteran competition team on the BBQ circuit. Through him, and many others I met at the American Royal BBQ Competition, I began to recognize certain traits, though different from each other in many other ways, these champions seem to all possess: a hard work ethic; an attention to detail; openness to sharing information (to a point!); a determined approach to making BBQ their own way, and an undying passion to win.

Larry isn’t competing nearly as much as he had been when I first met him. He is now owner of a BBQ restaurant in Memphis, Fat Larrys BBQ. Anyone that runs a restaurant knows it takes up a good part of your life. But I do believe that the personal characteristics that have made him a champion on the competition circuit, aside from his great cooking skills, can only help to give him a competitive edge in the restaurant business.

Recipes from the show: 2 Fat Larrys Rib Rub; Barbecue Beans; Wonder Peach Cobbler; Larry’s Slaw; and Grilled Catfish.

—Rebecca

74 Minute Award-Winning DVD; Journey inside the world of championship barbecue to discover just what it takes to win in competition from among the top names in this sport.

Journey inside the world of championship barbecue with this unique, 74-minute, award-winning DVD.

  • Interested in learning how to be successful in BBQ competitions? Check out this one of a kind DVD (I know, because I produced it:) ) that offers proven tips from some top names in this sport:

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    2 Comments

    1. Rebecca says:

      Hey Kristen:

      I am familiar with Oklahoma Joe’s and ate there awhile back. I had recently discovered brisket and tried their Z-man sandwich. It was a humdinger! I’ll be sure to try the ribs next time. They did look good:)

      Thanks for the tip!

    2. Kristen says:

      My husband competes occassionally in BBQ contests. He won 4th place at a contest here in Kansas City for his pulled pork.

      Anyway, like you said, it is a lot of hard work and you have to have something special to offer.

      If you are ever in KC, make sure to go to a place called Oklahoma Joes. They have fantastic ribs!