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.
The season opener was shot at Smokin’ in the Square in Pensacola, FL. The contestants for this episode were:
- Butcher BBQ from Chandler, OK (pitmaster is David Bouska)
- The Rolling Grill from Atlanta, GA (pitmaster is Eric Thomas)
- Big Jim’s BBQ from San Francisco, CA (pitmaster is Jim Modesitt)
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?