American Royal BBQ Teams Use Mascots, Secrets
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — These are the best of the best. They depend on perfect timing, secret seasonings, and a little help from their mascots.
Jane Lackey treats her meat rather like a baby, getting up every 40 minutes to check its temperature and hydrate with a top secret spritz recipe. Closely guarded secrets are what may set one slab apart from the competition, but the Lackeys are also relying on the contents of this tightly sealed plastic container.
It’s not a rub.
It’s a computer programed to keep the smokers at a set temperature. The graph drops when the doors open, noting a decrease in heat. They call themselves “high tech red necks,” and this is their first national competition.
Alan Webber may also be a little nervous, but his cooking is old school. He built this smoker himself. He stands watch over the dials, opening and closing the dampers to keep a steady temperature.
Once the meat is done, the presentation is also carefully orchestrated. But if the wow factor isn’t enough, rely on your lucky mascot. She helped Alan win grand champion at Pork n Hopps in Colorado.
Or how about “Old Smokie,” who doubles as a rain guard? And, then there’s “Blue Bell.”
But if champions were won on mascots alone, Leonard the Longhorn would win Michael Winter the title. 70 year old farmer Dean Holbert concocted the bull with old farm parts. Wrenches and stove doors, tractor seats and pencil sharpeners.
Made of steel, the bovine has a soft heart, and a big mouth, and if Leonard brings half as much luck as he does attention The American Royal may just crown a new barbecue champ.