The soft-spoken man who started what has become the American Royal Barbecue Sauce, Rub and Baste Contest on his Roeland Park patio and who penned the oath that all judges recite at Kansas City Barbeque Society competition will be inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame.
Ardie Davis, aka Remus Power PhB (doctor of barbecue), will be inducted in October during the American Royal World Series of Barbecue at the Kansas Speedway. Davis is one of three inductees, including Chris Lilly, the award-winning pitmaster for Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Ala., and David Knight, owner of Ole Hickory Pits, a barbecue smoker manufacturer out of Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Barbecue Hall of Fame inductees are chosen for their significant contributions to the barbecue community and demonstration of achievement in barbecue excellence in one of three categories: pitmaster, business/industry, and celebrity/humanitarian.
Past Kansas City winners have included Rich Davis, inventor of KC Masterpiece; Gary and Carolyn Wells, founders of the KCBS; Henry Perry, the first Kansas City businessman to sell barbecue; and competition pitmaster Paul Kirk.
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For the past three years, Davis has blogged for The Star’s Chow Town blog about all things barbecue. His folksy voice has been the heart, soul and conscience of an American culinary art form that has nurtured a competitive barbecue circuit that seeks to celebrate one-upsmanship as much as it celebrates and encourages camaraderie.
“It started on the basis of barbecue and people who wanted to get together and have fun,” Davis says. “I had no idea it would grow like it did.”
Although he has never been a competitive cooker, Davis is a charter member of the KCBS and has served three terms on the board of directors. He helped develop the KCBS Certified Barbecue Judge program, a network that now has 20,000 judges worldwide. He has also created and chronicled barbecue lore, penning the official judges oath that is administered before every KCBS-sanctioned event.
The Oath: “I do solemnly swear to objectively and subjectively evaluate each Barbeque meat that is presented to my eyes, my nose, my hands and my palate. I accept my duty to be an Official KCBS Certified Judge, so that truth, justice, excellence in Barbeque and the American Way of Life may be strengthened and preserved forever.”
When Davis deputizes certified barbecue judges, he is dressed in his Remus Powers outfit, an apron and bowler hat similar to the type worn by meat cutters at the turn of the 20th century.
Whether in or out of costume, Davis has spent many a weekend as an ambassador for all things barbecue. He’s the author of 11 books on barbecue, most recently “Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style” published by Globe Pequot.
He’s even inspired The Remus, a pulled pork and pimento cheese sandwich on the menu at Johnny’s Barbecue.
His proudest barbecue accomplishment?
“I know every weekend of the year there is someone somewhere taking that oath, whether it’s in Florida or somewhere in Europe,” Davis says. “That gives me great satisfaction. I’m a firm believer in rituals and ceremony, the kind that bring us together with humanity. You don’t have too much of that anymore.”
Jill Wendholt Silva is The Star’s James Beard award-winning food editor, lead restaurant critic and blog curator.