South African barbecue team makes 9,000-mile journey to Kansas City
A new competition has added an international flavor to the annual American Royal World Series of Barbecue.
The International Circle features 20 teams representing 11 countries in competition at Kansas Speedway.
Teams representing countries such as South Africa, Australia and Italy are entered. For the first time, a team from Japan is also represented in open competition.
This is the first year for an official international showdown. Twelve international teams competed with hundreds of other teams in open competition last year.
South Africa’s Team Braai-B-Que spent Friday afternoon preparing a mangalitsa pork dish for judging. It’s the team’s first appearance at the World Series of Barbecue.
Team member Borries Bornman said mangalitsa is the Kobe beef of pork, and it is not widely consumed in the United States.
“We’re taking a hell of a gamble,” he said. “But the meat is amazing.”
Team Braai-B-Que has traveled close to 3,000 miles throughout the U.S. in a little more than a month to compete in various events. Bornman described the World Series of Barbecue as one of the biggest.
“We’ve wanted to compete in this one for a while,” he said.
Their cooking method is braai, or outdoor cooking over a fire. The team’s name is derived from that method. On Friday, they tried a new method for the mangalitsa pork: a slow cook known in the U.S. as barbecuing.
“It’s an American thing,” Bornman said. “We’re going to see how it goes.”
Italy is represented by the Smoking Bad BBQ Team. On Friday, the three-man crew offered for sample grilled beef burgers topped with an Italian cheese, fried basil, bread crumbs, sundried tomatoes and olives imported from the coastal region of Liguria in northwestern Italy.
Translator Giacomo Mazzocchi said the dish is award-winning in Italy. Mazzocchi is a judge in the International Circle competition.
“I love it,” Mazzocchi said. “I’m looking forward to trying a lot of different dishes.”
The international competition is not the only change to the 37th version of the World Series of Barbecue. It’s being held at Kansas Speedway for the first time after years in the West Bottoms.
Last year’s event was held at Arrowhead Stadium.
Farmer Dean Holbert, 84, of Concordia, Kan., joined members of the Red Oak BBQ team for the open competition of the World Series. Holbert has participated in four previous events. He said he liked the change to Kansas Speedway.
“It seems good,” Holbert said. “It’s easy to get around, people are friendly and it’s a lot more room.”