Dixie-Que of Macon, Ga., and Smokin’ 42 Barbecue from Tifton, Ga., earned rights to compete in the World Food Championships in Las Vegas after winning Grand Champion status in the Memphis Barbecue Network and Georgia Barbecue Association competitions here Saturday, May 25, at the 5th Annual Brenau University Barbecue Championship.
The Dixie-Que team, headed by Rick Godfrey, aced the rib and pork shoulder cooking categories and was runner up in the whole hog presentation for the MBN-sanction professional cooking league in the Brenau competition.
Smokin’ 42, headed by Chad Brooks, also picked up first place in the ribs category for the GBA-sanctions events that were open to both amateur and professional cook teams.
Sauced Hog Smoke Shack, Clint Britton’s team from Jackson, Ga., won the GBA reserve grand champion position with a No. 1 finish in the pulled pork category and No. 3 in pork loin.
The Sauced Hog team, along with Smoke Butts, a Meansville, Ga., team headed by Rodney Ellington, also received perfect scores in the preliminary round of the pork loin cooking category.
“That does not happen often,” said Greg Hoyt, the GBA lead contest representative overseeing the Brenau competition.
The Brenau competition drew 37 teams from five states to the competition, which is held each May on the historic Brenau University campus in Gainesville as a community attraction that routinely draws several thousand patrons. Although the Brenau competition draws a number of competitors from Gainesville and nearby areas in North Georgia, both grand champs and the back-up champ were from south of Atlanta. In fact, teams from down state or out of state, “really racked it up this year,” said Jim Barco, organizer and director of the Brenau festival.
The addition this year of the GBA-sanctioned events to replace the “backyard braggart” amateur competition, Barco said, “clearly mixed things up more and made it a little more competitive.”
“But you could not have asked for better weather or a better event,” he added. “I think overall everybody who came was thrilled with the quality of the event and the activities for the whole family. And they had to be pleased to get to sample barbecue prepared by some of the finest cooks in the land.”
The Brenau barbecue is a scholarship fund-raising activity.
In the MBN competition, Diamond D team from Newton, Miss., beat out Dixie-Que by 4.0 points in the whole hog cooking category. Jurassic Pork from Norcross, Ga., placed third followed by fourth-place finisher Forrest’s Fine Foods from Cottondale, Fla.
In the shoulder category, Smoke Shack from North Augusta, S.C., placed second, followed by Jurassic Pork and Ranucci’s Big Butt Barbecue from Belmont, N.C.
Smoke Shack also placed second in the MBN rib-cooking category with Diamond D in third place and Ranucci’s again in fourth.
In the GBA ribs category, Smokin AJ’s from Warner Robins, Ga., placed second behind the Smokin’ 42 team and Swamp Cat Barbecue from Suwanee, Ga., placed third.
Ninja Pig Barbecue from Oakwood, Ga., finished second in the puled pork category with Smoke Shack in third.
AnarQue from Bolingbroke, Ga., finished second behind Smokey Butts and ahead of Sauced Hogs in pork loin preparation.
This is the first time that the MBN and GBA teams have competed together at the Brenau festival, now regarded as one of the top regional competition events in the country.
Another added bonus is the automatic bid to a national cooking competition this fall. Billed as “a clash of culinary titans,” the World Food Championships Las Vegas event features competition for fame and a piece of the $300,000 prize purse in seven categories of food preparation styles, including barbecue. The Brenau festival is one of only two in the country that gets to send two contestants.
The Brenau championship also handed out some special awards:
Tuff Dawg Grillers from Gainesville won the first place site appearance award with Diamond D in second and Smoke Shack in third.
In the “Anything But…” category for non-pork cooking, Brenau’s own Almighty Smokemasters, a team fielded by the university’s food services and catering organization, entered a smoked salmon that landed in a three-way tie with Gainesville’s Legally Smokin Docs gumbo entry and the strawberry cheesecake from Smoked Hawg Walking from Smyrna, Ga.
And, in the bloody mary competition, the Big Daddy’s Barbecue from Marietta, Ga., won first-place honors followed by Team Recess and Yellowfin from Gainesville and Diamond D from Newton, Miss., in third.