Monk: In a bit of a change of pace, I’m going to try my hand at TV recapping for the second season of BBQ Brawl, which airs for *checks notes* 10 episodes *gulp* on Monday nights at 9pm ET on Food Network. 10 episodes? Well let’s see how this goes…
For the second season of BBQ Brawl, Eddie Jackson joins Bobby Flay and Michael Symon at Star Hill Ranch outside of Austin and the number of contestants is increased from 8 to 12. The winner of BBQ Brawl season 2 will win a featured role on Food Network Digital and the title of “Master of Cue.” And in addition to the increased contestant pool, the premiere entitled “Introduce Your ‘Cue” is super-sized at an hour-and-a-half.
After a little bit of banter between the captains, (particularly Bobby Flay who “won” season 1 through Leanne Whippen), we begin to meet the contestants.
Christopher Prieto, owner and pitmaster at Prime Barbecue in Knightdale, is actually the first pitmaster introduced to the audience and is later described as Symon as “very confident, maybe on the edge of arrogant…may not be a bad thing.” He proudly claims the title of “BBQ Nerd” and isn’t afraid to throw science into his vernacular when describing his dishes.
The rest of the contestants are as follows:
- Brittani Bo Baker – Bubba’s Q Food Trucks, Tampa, FL
- Megan Day – Burnt Finger BBQ, Lee’s Summit, MO
- Christina Fitzgerald – Sugarfire Smoke House, St. Louis, MO
- Max Hardy – River Bistro, Coop Detroit, Detroit, MI
- Lu Holter – Croix Valley Foods, Hudson, WI
- Brendan Lamb – Smiley’s Craft Barbecue, Roanoke, TX
- Ara Malekian – Harlem Road Texas BBQ, Richmond, TX
- Terry Matthews – BBQ Daddy Catering, Phoenix, AZ
- Erica Blaire Roby – Blue Smoke Blaire BBQ, Dayton, OH
- David Sandusky – Beast Craft BBQ Restaurants, St. Louis, MO
- Taylor Carroll – Southern Belle BBQ, Atlanta, GA
The show joins the contestants in the middle of their first challenge, which is to create their best barbecue bite in 30 minutes. Then, the judges taste each dish then go through a draft of the contestants, schoolyard style. Eddie gets to pick first as the newest captain, and he actually selects Christopher Prieto. Prieto doesn’t seem phased by being picked first, even as the first pick last season ended up being the first eliminated. The rest of the draft shakes out as follows:
|Team Eddie||Team Bobby||Team Michael|
Brittani Bo Baker
Erica Blaire Roby
| Christopher Prieto|
After the teams are formed, the judges are introduced and they are no slouch. The first one introduced is actually Rodney Scott! I had somehow missed that he was involved in season 2, and its a welcome surprise. Then its Top Chef: Charleston winner Brooke Williamson, yet another great judge. Finally, Carson Kressley of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame is introduced as the last judge, completing quite the panel. Carson then introduces the first team brawl as a “First Impression BBQ Feast.” No rules, no limitations, just make the best meal possible. Each of the captains join the team and they start meal planning for the 1.5 hour cook.
Team Bobby makes an “Ode to Texas BBQ” focused around ribeye steaks with collard greens, sweet potato hash, smoked jalapeno creamed corn, and smoked cornbread.
Team Eddie made a “Backyard Feast” with Christopher taking the lead on the proteins in filet tenderloin and chicken thighs with sides of “cola slaw” made with soda, bacon-wrapped green beans, and a lightly smoked mac and cheese.
Team Michael finishes up with an “International BBQ Feast” with smoked chicken over an eggplant puree, smoked eggplant, smoked then fried cauliflower, and a smoked apple rosemary crumble.
Team Eddie and Team Bobby are announced as safe, with Team Michael predictably landing on the bottom based on the judge’s reaction. David’s cauliflower and Christina’s eggplant puree are the two weakest dishes and one of those two is going home. Christina goes home for her lacking eggplant puree, which she wasn’t super happy about having to cook in the first place. She seems to have some pretty impressive credentials so it would have been nice to see her cook more meat. Bells for Christina Fitzgerald.
As for the rest of the season of BBQ Brawl, the production values seem higher in season 2 and hopefully they will have more traditional barbecue challenges in addition to live-fire grilling (though I get the logistical challenges with filming a 10-12 hour or more cook). I’m also liking the judges for the season, and Carson Kressley adds a bit of levity to counteract the more serious cooking critiques from Rodney Scott and Brooke Williamson.
I’ll be following the progress of Prieto, as he is the only contestant with NC ties plus I’m curious: will his confidence take him to the title of “Master of Cue” or will it end up tripping him up along the way? I can’t wait to find out.
What was your favorite part of the premiere episode of BBQ Brawl season 2? Leave your response in the comments and be sure to check back next week for a recap of episode 2.