Pat Bell

All of this was leading up to the main event — a bacon wrapped, Cajun spiced por

Recently, I was asked to write about the things I barbecue at the house on a weekly basis. Wanting to honor a reader request, and with my wife leaving town for the weekend, I took advantage of the opportunity to have a “Camp Dad” barbecue. “Camp Dad” is any occasion where I get to share some time with my boys, other dads and their kids and do manly activities. My only issue with the request is I don’t usually plan out what I am going to cook in advance. I hit the store looking for inspiration, and I came up with a menu.


I awoke early one Saturday morning, ate a banana and had a glass of orange juice, and headed out the door in search of top notch competition barbecue. This quest had me going to Huntsville for the Shotgun Fred’s BBQ Showdown. It is the closest Kansas City BBQ Society event of the year, and I was happy it was only a two-hour drive from home. I arrived at 10 a.m. for the judges’ meeting and just in time to judge the first side dish – beans.

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Competition barbecue and “regular” barbecue. Although some folks cook at competitions the same way they cook in their backyards and/or restaurants, the competitors at the highest levels certainly do things differently.

Competition barbecue is often referred to as “one bite barbecue” because the judges typically take one bite and competitors are challenged to insert the most flavor and dynamic taste in that one portion. Judges typically taste dozens of samples during a competition, and the winner must stand out in a very crowded field.

Pat Bell and Louis Mueller

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Houston BBQ Festival at NRG Park. I bought VIP tickets the day they were released and waited anxiously the morning of the event to set off on I-10 in search of Houston’s best barbecue. There were roughly two dozen restaurants providing a wide variety of smoky goodness. 


Ladies and gentlemen, I have a problem. I love barbecue. I love it so much I travel around the state of Texas, most of the time with my kids in tow, to the legendary and not yet legendary barbecue joints around this great state. Planning vacations around dining at places that mainly serve lunch has its challenges, especially when you try and hit multiple locations in one day, but it is more than worth it. If that is not enough, on weekends I’m not traveling, I’m either cooking or judging barbecue.