In South Africa, bring on the braai
April 17th, 2014
12:00 PM ET
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Barbecued zebra anyone? How about warthog with peri-peri sauce?

Along with more traditional fare, these are the kinds of things you might find on a "braai," a specialized barbecue born of South Africa and over the last couple years seen around the world, thanks to a TV series.

South Africa's braai (barbecue) culture is one of the few things that truly cuts across racial and economic lines - just about every circle of friends here has its own "braai master."

In much the way cupcakes went from being a humble, if beloved, food item to the focus of TV shows, blogs and books, so too the braai has escalated in prominence and caught the imagination of the country in a new way.

October 28th, 2013
06:00 PM ET
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This is the fifteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a semi-regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

Getting tapped as a judge for a barbecue competition sounds like a carnivore's dream come true, especially when it's at the level of The Jack. For 25 years, cooking teams from around the world have converged upon Lynchburg, Tennessee to battle for smoke-soaked supremacy at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue.

This past Saturday, 25,000 barbecue devotees showed up to cheer on the 76 United States and 23 international teams that had qualified to participate by winning at the state level or various prestigious competitions. Chicken, ribs, pork and brisket were mandatory categories, and sauce, cook's choice and dessert were optional.

I got to taste them all.

I've been Kansas City Barbeque Society certified since 2008 and judged other food events, so this wasn't my first rodeo, but nothing compares to a competition where a $10,000 prize and such high-test bragging rights are on the line. Richmond, Virginia's Cool Smoke team took home the Grand Champion title, as well as Rockwell, Iowa's Pig Skin BBQ for a separately-judged Winner's Circle of previous Jack champs.

Judges like me left with full stomachs, sauce-stained clothes and some insight into what it takes to judge - and win - at competitive barbecue.

Rescue group brings relief in the form of barbecue
May 23rd, 2013
06:00 PM ET
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For most people, a barbecue emergency would entail running out of buns or over-charring the chicken wings. For the men and women of Operation BBQ Relief, that means it's time to drive into a disaster zone, fire up their smokers and serve hot meals to people on worst day of their lives.

There is something about barbecue that brings out the best in humankind. It's an inherently generous undertaking. No one makes just enough for a couple of plates; the time and effort just wouldn't be worth it. A giant hunk of meat - a shoulder, brisket, slab or ribs or even a whole, delicious beast - is cause for celebration and camaraderie.

It also presents a built-in invitation in the form of a smoky, meaty scent that acts as a homing beacon to your backyard. If you 'cue it up, they will come.

But after tornadoes laid waste to the town of Moore, Oklahoma, earlier this week, many residents were left without a backyard to call their own - let alone a smoker, tongs or even a plate from which to eat. That's when Operation BBQ Relief rolled in.

May 17th, 2011
01:00 AM ET
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Patrick Oppmann is a CNN All Platform Journalist and barbecue enthusiast.

Floods or no floods, in Memphis there was going to be a barbecue.

The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, a yearly celebration off all things BBQ, is usually held along the city’s scenic and winding riverfront.

The festival draws over 200 top practitioners of the art of barbecue and thousands of their devoted fans.

But there was one large added logistical complication this year: the rising Mississippi River dumped feet of water on the park where the festival has been held for over 30 years.

Unless pitmasters were going to don scuba suits, a new location needed to be found and quickly.

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Filed under: Barbecue • Bite • Competitive BBQ • Cuisines

September 8th, 2010
12:00 AM ET
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Steven Weinberger is a Senior Systems/Software Developer at CNN and maintains Follow him on Twitter @KosherDIY.

On the last full week of August, I took my wife and five children on a road trip. We were going to be driving in our minivan for more than 18 hours, across six states. Masochistic? Very few road trips with five children aren't. Our inspiration for this trip? Three letters say it all: BBQ.

We were headed to Memphis, Tennessee to compete in the nation's oldest and largest Kosher BBQ competition.

Kosher BBQ? In Memphis? True enough, in Memphis pork is the undisputed king of BBQ, but at the Anshei Sphard – Beth El Emeth Congregation in Memphis, it's all about beef - Kosher beef briskets and racks of ribs shipped in from a New York distributor to be exact. Fortunately, we arrived at the ASBEE parking lot early Wednesday evening, just in time for meat selection. Determined not to succumb to the exhaustion of the drive, I chose my brisket and four racks of ribs that I would be serving on Sunday and got down to prep work immediately.

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Filed under: Barbecue • Bite • Competitive BBQ • Cuisines • Kosher

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