One of the highly-awaited events in Kansas City is the annual American Royal Barbeque. This four-day event is held during the first week of October, and is the ultimate event for barbeque aficionados. It also hosts the largest barbeque contest in the world, with over 550 teams competing in various categories. First up is the Sauce Contest, followed by the Masterpiece Invitational Meat Contest, the KC Open Sides Contest, the Junior World Series of Barbeque contest, and finally, the KC Open Meat contest.
What’s interesting about professional BBQ contests are some of their rules. James Oliver Cury, who judged in one, writes about these curious regulations in his article for Yahoo! Food:
No matter how tender and juicy your pork ribs are, you’ll never win a world-class barbecue contest if you don’t know the rules. Over the weekend, I spent a full day in a Tennessee classroom learning the do’s and don’ts of professional ‘cue competitions as set down in the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) regulation book—which is given to every certified judge.
Regular barbecue contest participants like Papa Browns BBQ, which is said to have the best barbecue sauce in the world, as well as the judges of the competitions, are recommended to know these rules by heart.
No one can just simply join the much-anticipated barbeque event. Participants must have entered and won a state-sanctioned contest for them to qualify as a participant. If you have managed to get in, that means you’ve fulfilled this first criterion.
Select garnishes only
The article says food preparation rules are stringent, and must be followed strictly. Red-leaf lettuces, endives, and kale are not allowed as garnish, while fresh green lettuce, cilantro, and flat leaf parsley are acceptable. No one really knows the history of this rule, according to Cury.
Bone in, but no carving
All rib dishes should have at least one piece of bone in its meat. Don’t get carried away, though, because the rule says:
There is no sculpting of meat into swans, bowling balls, angels, or any other shape. No sculpting whatsoever. No “foreign objects” either. It’s a little vague as stated, and sounds vaguely medical, but this means you cannot leave toothpicks, skewers, or aluminum foil in the samples provided for judges.
Homemade sauces OK
Using homemade BBQ sauce such as Papa Browns BBQ’s tasty creation, or making one from scratch, is allowed as long as the ingredients are edible and the end product enhances the flavor of the meat. During submission, the correct amount of BBQ sauce should be placed on the meat; the sauces are not supposed to pool in the submission tray, to prevent the tendency for double-dipping.