The American Royal Invitational is to Barbecue competitors, as the Super Bowl is to Football teams. The only exception is that there are a few more barbecue teams involved in this annual competition, and it smells and tastes a whole lot better! In every state that has a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) cooking competition there are teams who, to the best of their abilities, and with a bit of luck, strive to win a KCBS sanctioned State Championship. Winning one of the State events is a feat in itself.
From the weather, to baby sitting the cookers all night long, to the actual competition preparations and timing that it takes to hand in the food on time, hot, looking and tasting great. The variables that it takes to place in any of the four categories, let alone the Grand Championship, makes it a pretty daunting task. Then there is the totally unpredictable variable, personal human taste, the judge.. God bless’em. These are the things that the barbecue competitor faces, and we all work very diligently to accomplish this feat, a State Championship, so we can receive the invitation to the American Royal.
Our team, BBQ’n Fools, has been very blessed the last couple of years. Through our combined talents, and love for good barbecue, we have been invited to compete in the American Royal Invitational two years in a row. Given that we only started competing 2 1/2 years ago, this is an honor we feel very grateful to have had. Last year, at the 2000 American Royal, we did not do as well as we had hoped. We did, however, learn a lot from the experience and met a number of great people who gave to us their wisdom and shared their own experiences so that we might grow as a team and as cooks. Their friendliness will never be forgotten.
In 2001, we were invited back again, this time for having won the Southern California Barbecue Association’s “Team of the Year” for 2000. This year, when we arrived at the American Royal, we were very optimistic and full of energy. We were very happy to see so many of the familiar faces we had met last year. Their enthusiasm for us being here once again was inspiring and delightful. So, with great excitement, taking all that we had learned from the last Royal, keeping in mind all the advice and experience we had gained from competing throughout the year, the BBQ’n Fools started cooking.
When it was all said-and-done, all of us felt we had cooked the best we had in a very long time! The day had gone smoothly and everything tasted so good we thought we had a good chance of placing in a category or two. Did I mention that we were competing against sixty-eight other championship teams? These are the top teams on the KCBS circuit! To place in a category at this event would be a real accomplishment.
When it came time for the awards ceremony, we were very excited, and I’m happy to say that our hopes had come true! We received seventh place for our ribs, our chicken took fourteenth, and we wound up sixteenth place overall out of sixty-nine championship teams! It was a VERY good day!
We entered our sauce, BBQ’n Fools Signature Barbecue Sauce, in the American Royal International Sauce contest as well. The results for this were announced the next day, along with the winners for the American Royal Open Barbecue Contest. To our extreme happiness, not only did we place fifteenth in ribs at the Open (out of 363 teams), our sauce took fourth place for Retail Packaging! Needless to say, we are very pleased with our performance at this year’s American Royal Barbecue competition.
As with last year’s contest, we made some very endearing friends and also got to see some olds ones. That alone makes the American Royal a special event. We are already looking forward to competing next year in an effort to be invited back again to this Competition of Champions; were there are no losers, only good folks, and the love of great barbecue.