Barbecue Bros AV Club: “BBQ Brawl“ S3 E2 – “BBQ Games”

Monk: After an extremely successful stint recapping season 2 (ha), I’m back to recap the third season of BBQ Brawl, which airs on Monday nights at 9pm ET on Food Network. Let’s brawl!

After a week one where no one went home (but the bottom two teams switched captains0, we’re back to the usual elimination format in episode 2. After some trash talk from Bobby, whose team won week 1, they jump right into the Advantage Challenge.

Advantage Challenge

The captains will join their teams in a culinary relay challenge to perform the following four tasks: shuck and de-kernel 8 corns, cut a pork shoulder and grind sausage into five links, break down a whole chicken, and chop 3 quarts of coleslaw. The teams have 5 minutes to gameplan.

Team Anne jumps out to a big lead but eventually everyone gets to the coleslaw challenge, and Jet starts making up time with his serious chopping skills. Tony on Team Bobby has a unique “chop everything” technique and starts to make up time but ultimately Team Anne’s lead is too much to overcome and they win. A chintzy new “Pigasus” trophy is introduced and they proudly display at the front of their station. Not sure if this will come into play other than bragging rights.

Team Brawl

For the Team Brawl, the BBQ Games continue in the form of “BBQ Tag Team:” each team has to create a cohesive theme in at least 4 dishes, whatever each team wants. Two hours cooking time, 15 minutes to prep and cook as a team, but after that that initial period only one contender can cook at a time in 15 minute increments and everyone has to cook twice. Team Anne’s advantage is that they get to tag Anne in once to help outside of the beginning and ending 15 minute periods.

In order of judging:

Team Anne goes with a “BBQ Melting Pot” theme which means each person basically does what they want (similar to Team Jet’s concept from last week when he was captain of these same contestants). The cook goes fairly smoothly and Anne comes in for the last 30 minutes total as part of their advantage. Their menu:

  • Don’s Vietnamese chicken with ginger garlic rice
  • Sunny’s garlic herb tri-tip
  • Rashad’s roasted garlic and cheese mashed potatoes and sweet and sticky brussel sprouts;
  • Anne’s Mexican street corn

While the judges agree that the menu was all over the place, they seem to like just about every dish but note that the brussels could have used some char.

Team Bobby’s them is “Southwestern BBQ” and by far the most cohesive concept amongst the teams. Their cook also goes well for the most part until James knocks over a grill with his meat and vegies right as they get to the last 15 minutes but he thinks he can salvage the steak.

  • Matt’s smoked salmon and scallop ceviche with tortilla chips
  • Tina’s chile relleno casserole and charro beans
  • James and Bobby flank steak with salsa roja
  • James flatiron steak fajitas

Immediately there are issues noted by the judges. They question the use of salmon with scallops together in Matt’s ceviche. It turns out maybe James shouldn’t have served the steak fajitas after all as Brooke and Carson both taste a gritty and sandy texture in their meals. On the other hand, Tina’s chile relleno and charro beans are a hit and the flank steak and salsa roja works once the ingredients are combined.

Team Jet‘s theme is “International Soul Food BBQ” (again Jet with an international theme).

  • Tony’s cast iron chicken with Armenian spices and pomegranate drizzle
  • Winnie’s char siu pork
  • Michelle’s cajun shrimp and andouille over cheesy grits
  • Jet’s roasted cauliflower with agrodulce

Tony’s chicken isn’t getting color on the smoker so at one point he pivots to cast iron to give it a sear before putting it back on the smoker. In the end this leads to a successful dish. Winnie’s Chinese char siu pork has good flavor but is slightly overdone. Both Michelle and Jet’s dishes needed more char on the shrimp as well as more evenly on the cauliflower.


Team Anne is named the first safe team, which makes sense based on the feedback from the judges. Team Jet is named second and happily makes the walk off the set.

That leads to Team Bobby predictably being named as the bottom team. Between James and Matt, they seemingly had the two weakest dishes of the Team Brawl. In the end, James takes the bullet for dropping his meat on the ground and then serving it but Matt should feel lucky with his muddled ceviche.

Will Team Anne start a winning streak? How will Bobby react to losing the first contestant of the season? Check back here next week.

Eastern NC Whole Hog Tour: Sam Jones BBQ – Winterville, NC

As the old saying goes, more often than not a person’s favorite barbecue is what he or she was raised on. Here at Barbecue Bros, it should be no secret that we are Lexington-style barbecue fans (sometimes known as Piedmont- or Western-style barbecue). Each of the three of us were raised in High Point, NC, just under 20 miles up I-85 from the Barbecue Capital of NC.

However, despite the two warring styles of barbecue in the state, I have never harbored any ill-will to my whole hog compatriots to the east. While I’ve spent many a tank of gas exploring all the Lexington-style joints in the western Piedmont of NC, I’ve bemoaned for years the fact that I just simply haven’t had a ton of reasons to spend much time in the eastern part of the state where whole hog and a vinegar pepper sauce reign supreme. 

Thankfully, the oldest Monkette’s gymnastics competition travels recently took the whole Monk family to Greenville, NC for USAG State Championships. We even stayed in an AirBnB in Ayden. Finally, I had a reason to be in Pitt County for a couple days. I hoped to make the most of being in the heart of whole hog country!

Part I – B’s Barbecue

Part II – Skylight Inn

Sam Jones BBQ – Winterville

Address: 715 W Fire Tower Rd, Winterville, NC 28590
Order: Two meat combo with collards and potato salad (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: In Pitt County, there seem to only be a couple of barbecue options on Sundays. B’s Barbecue, Skylight Inn, and Bum’s Restaurant are all closed to give those family-run operations a day of rest (though of course the prep for the next week surely begins). Parker’s Barbecue has a few Greenville-area locations and is open 10-8:30 seven days a week, but is a gas-cooked barbecue that may actually be better known for its fried chicken. For true ‘cue, wood-smoked barbecue, your main option is Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, between Ayden and Greenville. You may recall that the Monk family had previously checked out the Raleigh outpost of Sam Jones BBQ last year, with great results.

While I was still very much on the whole hog train, Sam Jones BBQ gave the family a few more options to order something else besides barbecue (I know, I know). It also has a full bar with local beer options on tap including the Sam Jones BBQ Eager Clever Kölsch, a beer made in honor of Sam Jones by Pitt Street Brewing in Greenville made to complement barbecue.

Compared with the barbecue I had just the day before at Skylight Inn, although Sam Jones BBQ’s whole hog was very good it somewhat paled in comparison. The chop was coarser, the cracklins weren’t quite as crisp, and the barbecue portion was a little lacking. Still, it was very good barbecue and one that I’d recommend to anyone.

On my third barbecue restaurant in Pitt County, I finally tried the pit chicken that seems to be the second barbecue item at each restaurant. We’re on record here in rarely ordering poultry at barbecue restaurants (although I’m starting to change my mind about turkey) and while this “slow-cooked chicken” was rather good I wouldn’t necessarily order next time

I switched it up as far as sides went and went with collards and potato salad.The collards were Mrs. Monk approved – she’s contemplated starting a “Collards Sisters” blog so she’s clearly an expert – and the potato salad was a nice changeup from the slaw I’d had a couple times in the past 24 hours.

The original Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville knocks it out of the park, and seem to be doing wll, as evidenced by the near-constant line out the door throughout our Sunday lunch visit. While there are clearly better options for barbecue nearby (which in this case means transcendent), I would happily eat at a Sam Jones BBQ were it in my hometown. Speaking of which: any plans to open a store in Charlotte, Sam?

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Friday Find: Robert Moss talks barbecue history on Tales from the Pits

Monk: While the Tales from the Pits guys were in Charleston in early March, they recorded a podcast interview with Robert Moss, who lives in Mount Pleasant. In it, they nerd out a little on barbecue history, discuss among other things the Holy Smokes Barbecue Festival, and Robert also gives a few under the radar barbecue recommendations for South Carolina, North Carolina, and Texas.

We were thrilled to have the chance to sit down with Robert F. Moss during our recent trip to South Carolina for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. Robert is a wealth of culinary knowledge and the research he’s done on barbecue history is second to none. Born and raised in South Carolina, Robert is an accomplished author who has had several books published on Barbecue, spirits, and other facets of culinary history. He’s an absolute wealth of information and in this episode we discussed topics ranging from modern barbecue, historical barbecue, and Robert’s daunting task of composing Southern Living’s 50 Best Barbecue Places in the South list. 

Tune in to hear some great stories on barbecue history and be sure to pick up Robert’s incredible books. Go to his website to sign up for his ‘Cue Sheet newsletter.

Robert F. Moss
Twitter: mossr
Instagram: robertfmoss

Thank you to Charleston Wine + Food for helping to facilitate our recordings during this trip

Barbecue Bros AV Club: “BBQ Brawl“ S3 E1 – “‘Cue the Introductions”

Monk: After an extremely successful stint recapping season 2 (ha), I’m back to recap the third season of BBQ Brawl, which airs on Monday nights at 9pm ET on Food Network. Let’s brawl!

We’re back at Starr Hill Ranch for season 3 of Food Network’s “BBQ Brawl.” But there are some new faces around mainstay Bobby Flay. Joining him as captains this year are Chefs Anne Burrell and Jet Tila. While they may not have a ton of barbecue or live fire experience, they are capable chefs who are going to be gunning for Bobby this season. Will it pay off? We’ll see.

We join the contestants in media res of the Individual Challenge, where they are cooking a skewer for the judges to choose them, schoolyard pick-up style.

Individual Challenge

Of course, we’ve got a whole new slate of contestants this year but a few are familiar. Tina Cannon of course was the winner of Netflix’s “American Barbecue Showdown.” Michelle Wallace is the executive chef of the highly regarded Gatlin’s Barbecue in Houston. A few are recognizable from my Instagram feed: Don Nguyen is part of the up and coming Khoi Barbecue in Houston, Rashad Jones runs Big Lee’s BBQ in Ocala, FL, and Winnie Yee-Lakhani started Smoke Queen Barbecue somewhat recently.

The full cast list, in order of introduction:

  • Tony Froyan – Fire & Feast Catering, Maplewood, NJ
  • Michelle Wallace – Gatlin’s Barbecue, Houston, TX
  • Don Nguyen – Khoi Barbecue, Houston, TX
  • Sunny Moody – Moodswing BBQ, Nashville, TN
  • James Cruse – Central City BBQ, New Orleans, LA
  • Rashad Jones – Big Lee’s BBQ, Ocala, FL
  • Matt Roth – Smokin Beauty, Austin, TX
  • Winnie Yee-Lakhani – Smoke Queen BBQ, Fullerton, CA
  • Tina Cannon – Atlanta, GA

After the judges try each of the contestant’s skewers, they begin picking with Jet who won the tiebreaker over Anne. Bobby naturally goes third because he has won the previous 2 seasons.

Team JetTeam AnneTeam Bobby

Team Brawl

That leads right into the team brawl, but first the judges. All three return from last season: Rodney Scott, Brooke Williamson, and Carson Kressley. I thought the judging was one of he stronger elements of last season so I’m glad it remains unchanged.

The team challenge is a “BBQ Restaurant Battle:” each team will create a restaurant menu concept and have multiple entrees, multiple sides, and even a dessert. And surprise surprise, no one’s going home for losing this challenge but the two bottom teams will have to switch team captains. Plot twist!

Team Bobby – American Chop House

Team Bobby goes for a classic steakhouse concept, but “with a twist.” That twist? Not just traditional steak but also lamb and boar. James cooks a filet with roasted garlic mashed potatoes; Matt gives the wild boar chops a go with a side of creamed spinach; Tina’s lamb chops are middle eastern with grilled asparagus. Bobby takes dessert and goes with the iron skillet cobbler on smoker.

Team Jet – International Smokehouse

Aka you “can do whatever you want,” according to Bobby. Rashad goes with kalbi beef short ribs; Jet serves a flank steak salad; Don draws on his heritage with double fried Vietnamese chicken wings and Vietnamese street corn; Sunny does a simple bruschetta and her much-touted bourbon maple bacon pecan pie that she cooks on the smoker.

Team Anne – The Hen House

Team Anne focuses on poultry for their concept. Tony and Michelle team up for chicken fried steak with gravy from Michelle; Anne handles the smashed potatoes; the five spice quail is an entire team effort; Michelle smokes chicken thighs and makes homemade biscuits; Winnie goes dessert with a peach and mango pudding with meringue on top.

As a reminder: no one’s going home but bottom two teams will be switching team captains.

The judges announce that Team Bobby is the top team and will be staying in tact. That means Jet and Anne switch teams going forward. We’ll see how their approaches mesh with their new teams, but Tony may be a little relieved to go from Team Anne and Team Jet.

Will Bobby retain his crown for the three peat? Will Anne and Jet get along with their new teams? Who will win the competition and be named “Master of Cue?” Follow along with me as I recap this season of “BBQ Brawl.”