Barbecue is truly an American delicacy, a passion for those who prepare it as well as connoisseurs of the slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone, dripping sauce meat dish. The Kansas City Barbeque Society is the one of the most recognizable, world’s largest organizations of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts with more than 14,000 members worldwide. The nonprofit society sanctions more than 350 barbeque contests coast-to-coast and works with other corporations as well as civic and charitable agencies.
Recognizing barbeque as America’s cuisine, the mission of the Kansas City Barbeque Society is to celebrate, teach, preserve and promote barbeque as a culinary technique, sport and art form.
For 2011, Sam’s Club, the official supplier of the KCBS, announced that the largest prize purse to date — a total of $400,000. It will be offered during the Inaugural Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour. It will feature 20 local qualifying events, five regional events and the national championship in the company’s hometown of Bentonville, Ark. All contests will be held in Sam’s Club parking lots across the country. The first contest of the tour took place in April in Gilbert, Calif. The last will be held Sept. 24 in Pittsburgh.
“This partnership with KCBS gives Sam’s Club a chance to showcase our high-quality selection of fresh meats,” said Bob Fields, senior fresh merchandise director, Sam’s Club. “It also allows us to demonstrate to our members and others how grilling can be an everyday meal solution even if they aren’t part of the growing competitive barbecuing scene.”
“Over our 25 year history, we have seen substantial growth in members, events and prize money,” said Carolyn Wells, executive director, KCBS. “This is due in large part to the ever growing popularity of our sport. Our strategic alliance with Sam’s Club is another way for us to continue bringing barbecue to the masses.”
The society was conceived in the fall of 1985 when Carolyn and Gary Wells and Rick Welch, a.k.a. Sir Loin, were discussing one of their favorite topics — barbecue. Carolyn Wells was then executive vice-president of Wicker Barbeque Products (barbecue marinade and baste, distributed primarily in the South), and had networked extensively in the barbecue market. As a cooking team, the Wells and Welch had competed in barbecue competitions in the area – the American Royal, the Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle, and the Blue Springs Blaze Off.
With so few options, and pondering this dilemma, the Wells and Welch decided to form a club for the cookers. The only criterion for membership was that none of it be taken seriously. That’s grounds for disqualification. The Kansas City Barbeque Society was created and, after mailing a newsletter about the new club, about 20 people joined. Between 1985 and 1993, KCBS received requests to sanction barbecue contents. By 1993, KCBS had 1,400 members. The number of contests continued to grow, and KCBS was sanctioning contests beyond the Midwest.
More than 5,000 teams compete on the KCBS barbeque circuit. KCBS has been sanctioning events and training certified barbeque judges nationwide for 25 years, using an objective, blind judging process.
Many culinary historians have argued that the method itself originated in the southern United States. Others believe barbeque as a method of roasting meat over powdery coals was picked up from indigenous people in the colonial period, and that the West Indian term barbacoa became barbecue in the lexicon of early settlers.
For more information about KCBS and upcoming contests, visit www.kcbs.us.
As always, I welcome your suggestions and comments. Please email me at [email protected] Also, my radio show, Dining with Debbie, is due to debut in October.