The American Royal launched Kansas City’s observance of National Barbecue Month last weekend with a record breaking World Series of Barbecue International Barbecue Sauce Contest featuring 606 barbecue sauces from 43 states and 13 countries.
Barbecue sauce judges, representing a microcosm of the barbecue consumer public, were welcomed by American Royal president and CEO Lynn Parman.
Noting the prestige of winning the largest, most prestigious barbecue sauce contest in the world, she thanked the judges for lending their time and expertise toward selecting the Best Sauce on the Planet, 2017. Parman also thanked the judges, volunteers, staff and sauce vendors for their help in raising funds for the American Royal agricultural education and scholarship programs.
A brief judging orientation covered rules and regulations for both experienced sauce judges and new judges to assure an even playing field for all contestants.
1. This is a barbecue sauce contest. Therefore each sauce is evaluated on real unseasoned barbecue meat.
2. Personal preferences and favorites should be set aside while judging. Sauces are not to be compared with judges’ current favorites. Since sauce bases and flavors vary by region, each sauce is to be judged on its own merits relative to how it complements barbecue meat.
3. Sauces are judged on the basis of 4 criteria: appearance, texture, taste alone and taste on barbecue meat. Although we first “taste” with our eyes, appearance can be misleading. A great-tasting sauce may not look so good, and vice versa. Texture can also be misleading. A thick tomato base sauce may appear to hold to the meat better than thin vinegar base sauces, but the proof is in the tasting. Thin sauces can accomplish the same flavor enhancing goal as thick sauces. Since in the final analysis consumers will choose sauces that resonate best with their taste buds, the taste scores are doubled. Judges were reminded that sauces are scored for taste alone and taste on barbecue meat. Some sauces taste great straight out of the container, but are not so good at complementing the flavor of barbecue meat.
4. All sauces are in identical plastic squeeze bottles and assigned a number known only to contest officials in order to assure “blind” judging.
After the judges took the official American Royal International Barbecue Sauce Contest Judges’ Oath the judging began.
Contest results will be announced via press release from the American Royal on Wednesday, May 10.
Ardie Davis founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. He is author/co-author of 11 published barbecue books and is a 2016 inductee into the Barbecue Hall of Fame.