“I Like Pork Butts and I Cannot Lie” – BBQ Pitmasters Season 4 Episode 1 Recap


The long awaited premiere of Season 4 of BBQ Pitmasters has arrived, and it is a good one!  For those of you who are fans of last season and the “in-between” episodes featuring regional styles of BBQ, you won’t be disappointed.  The format of the show remains mostly the same in this season – three teams cooking two different meats.  The top prize is $50,000, the title of Kingsford BBQ Pitmasters Grand Champion, and a spot in the Kingsford Invitational.  But there are some changes…

(NOTE: If you haven’t seen the episode, don’t read any further unless you want to know the results.)

What’s New This Season

The first change is in the third judge’s seat.  For the first few episodes of this season, the third judge will be a guest judge, someone influential within the world of BBQ.  For this episode, the judge was Al “Bubba” Baker, former NFL defensive lineman and owner of Bubba’s Q World Famous Bar-B-Q and Catering. Another change, albeit a minor one, is that all of the teams are sporting custom BBQ Pitmasters shirts.  Also, it looks like the meat supplier for this season is Buckhead Beef.  The final, and possibly most significant change, is that there is a semi-final round.  The winners from the preliminary episodes (27 teams competing in the preliminary rounds, so 9 winners from 9 episodes) will advance to a semi-final round (3 episodes), with the winners from those episodes advancing to the final.

Episode Synopsis

The season opener was shot at Smokin’ in the Square in Pensacola, FL.  The contestants for this episode were:

The meats for this episode were two staple meats of BBQ: pork butts and spare ribs, with 10 hours to cook and turn-in the entries.  Folks familiar to the previous season will be familiar with what happens – explanations of the different pits being used (Butcher BBQ and Big Jim’s BBQ employ pellet smokers, while The Rolling Grill uses a reverse flow stick burner) and the woods/wood pellets to be used, an explanation of each of the cuts of meat being cooked, prep of each of the meats (including injections and rubs), turn-in prep, the contestants watching the judging, and (of course) plenty of commentary from the judges.

In the end, the scientific and systematic approaches taken by Butcher BBQ rose above the competition and edged out The Rolling Grill and their use of more traditional methods to move to the next round.  Big Jim’s BBQ finished in third.

My Thoughts, Plus a Drink Count

I thought this was a good episode with which to start the new season.  The formula for last year’s season was tried and true, and Destination America mostly stuck to it, only making changes that would potentially enhance the franchise.  The choice of meats was predictable and could be construed as a bit of a softball toss.  It will be interesting to see how the meat choices will evolve throughout the season, especially with a total of 13 episodes for this season.  The amount of details shown in the cooking and prep for each of the processes was about on par with last season.  If I had to throw up a criticism, it would be the guest judge – the chemistry wasn’t quite there between Baker and Myron/Tuffy.  Myron and Tuffy, as usual, work well together on camera

And now for the drink count…  If you need a refresher for the drinking game rules for this season, click here.  If you actually took a drink for each item, I have pity on your liver!  I counted 43 drinks throughout the episode broken down as follows:

  • Trash Talking – 9 drinks
  • Injections/Flavor Profiles – 10 drinks
  • Butter/Squeeze Butter – 6 drinks
  • “That’s Me” (Team identifying themselves in The Pit) – 18 drinks

So what did you think about the episode?  What would you like to see different for future episodes?

  • Good review, I had pretty much the same thoughts.

  • Del Kenneson

    Thought it was a good first show. David is a good friend, glad to see him win on the show. He was pretty tight lipped about it after the filming, a feww months ago.

  • Chilebrown

    I think the format is boring and predictable. Cookiecutter show with new competitors, same judges, meats, comments and results. Next week stay tuned for new competitors with more of the same. Throw in some actual competitions and drama like the first season.

    • I think most BBQ guys would agree with you on that — show what it’s really like out on the competition circuit. Unfortunately, Americans want to see a clear cut winner and loser on shows such as this. The format of the show is probably the best conceived compromise in order to retain viewership from both BBQ aficionados and the general viewing audience.

  • Ernie Rupp

    From viewing a taping at the American Royal last year, I would like to see them stagger the turn in times so the judges can judge the meat right after it is turned in. Each pitmaster turning in both meats 10 min apart based on numbers drawn at the beginning of the show. In KC the meat sat in a cambro for 20-30 minutes. That 3rd muscle Butcher turned in looked awesome as he pulled it out of the center of the shoulder and trimmed it, but looked dried out and brownish grey when judged. He won anyway but that could be a killer if a pitmaster was not head and shoulders above the competition. I would also not like to see the ringer in every episode. You knew Butcher had the upper hand the whole way competing against 2 lesser known pitmasters. They should have at least 2 “big boys of bbq” in each episode to not look like they are forcing the usual suspects to the semis.

    • Choosen Que

      I don’t believe he was head and shoulders over the competition. He had to earn that win like every team does that competes. I think you should watch the show again because from what I saw…I don’t see how David had the upper hand. In my opinion that could have easily gone to The Rolling Grill.