IMG_3488IMG_3487IMG_3486IMG_3483IMG_3482IMG_3481IMG_3478IMG_3475IMG_3459IMG_3460IMG_3473IMG_3466IMG_3465image

July 13 and 14 dozens of teams from all over Puerto Rico, the US, and the Caribbean came together on the grounds of the Puerto Rico Convention Center for the biggest outdoor, culinary event of its kind in the Caribbean: the 6th annual Cattlemen’s Caribbean BBQ Competition & Outdoor Festival.

Over 80 teams and 35 sponsors teamed up to provide 15,000 hungry fans with non-stop delectably smoked and amazingly grilled dishes. Teams went head-to-head (or grill-to-grill!) for top honors in over 15 culinary categories that included the Authentic BBQ, Grilling Technique, Hole Hog (Lechón Asado), Steak, Brisket, Pulled Pork, Wings, Hamburgers, and Seafood. From traditional Puerto Rican lechón (roasted pork) to burgers and wings, there was something to feast on for all sorts of BBQ enthusiasts.

Judges hit the tents at 9am sharp, where they were first instructed on proper BBQ Etiquette for judging: they were searching for 3 criteria; flavor, texture, and presentation. Among the judges was the founder of the US BBQ chain Famous Dave’s, Dave Anderson.  Dave was overheard reminiscing in the judges’ tent on the simpler days of BBQ, the days of fire and meat, salt and pepper, back when it was all about tasting the meat itself and getting together with friends and having fun over an open fire.

First time competitors, Firefighters of Puerto Rico, surely made some smoke at the event. The team took home the award for most creative and attractive booth, a grilling station built from a 1987 fire engine truck, complete with fire siren and all!

The event was a huge success, with teams coming from Antigua, Barbados, and the US, specifically the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KBCS). The KBCS is the major entity in this culinary field, as the world’s largest grilling society. Next year’s event is already being planned for February, just in time to open the national circuit of BBQ Competitions!

All in all, the Cattlemen’s Caribbean BBQ Competition & Outdoor Festival harked back to a time that Famous Dave still remembers, a time filled with fun and camaraderie, a time when folks took out their grills over the weekend to participate in the beautiful experience of sharing food.

 

Mikol Hoffman, manager of Puerto Rico’s *original* culinary tour company Flavors of San Juan Food & Culture Tours. Contact info: info@flavorsofsanjuan.com