Alright folks, it’s on! BBQ Pitmasters Season 5 on Destination America kicks off with “Sweet Georgia Ham.” This seminal BBQ showdown favorite is starting things off with a showcase from the Peach State – featuring 3 of Georgia’s top competition BBQ Pitmasters:
- Robby Royal of Rescue Smokers – Sycamore, GA
- Eric Thomas of The Rolling Grill – Atlanta, GA
- John A. Ley, Jr. of Heavenly Hawgs – Perry, GA
As was the case last season, the format for this season features each of the BBQ Pitmasters showing their skills with conventional BBQ meats as well as some surprises. Each pitmaster stands before a cooler filled with what they’ll be prepping and presenting to this year’s judges: Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone, and Moe Cason. Trust me when you do not want to miss the mystery protein offered up in this episode. It’s a grilling classic, but one most pitmasters have never seen in the form presented here. I will say this… most of you will be surprised to see a “dry brine” being used!
Note: One of the most challenging aspects in competition barbecue is meeting the timelines set forth by each sanctioning body. You must know your proteins and understand exactly how long it takes to prep and cook them. This week’s episode will test each of the BBQ Pitmasters’ skills at time management for sure, as both entries must be submitted at the same time.
Let’s Take A Look At the BBQ Smokers These Teams Are Using
Robby Royal of Rescue Smokers
Robby is featuring his two insulated vertical smokers. The way these smokers work is that their design forces heat and smoke up through the walls before exiting from the top vents. He’s also rocking a DigiQ II blower unit to ensure temps stay nice and even. True to their Georgia roots, Rescue Smokers will be loading these bad boys up with some Georgia peach wood to add a mild smoke profile to their finished product.
Eric Thomas of The Rolling Grill
Eric says it right out – “In traditional Georgia BBQ, you cook on stick burning pits.” That’s exactly what he’s using here with his reverse flow, offset smoker. “No electrical gadgets needed,” says Thomas. “These pits show exactly what kind of pitmaster you are.” Eric is using a mixture of apple wood (one of Mixon’s favorites) and southern pecan to balance the apple’s fruity profile with a little bit of a nutty finish.
John A. Ley, Jr. of Heavenly Hawgs
Heavenly Hawgs splits the difference between Rescue Smokers and the Rolling Grill by using both a reverse flow, offset smoker and a gravity fed smoker. The idea being to get a nice bark on the proteins in the offset and then finish things off in the vertical smoker. Peach wood is the fuel of choice for Heavenly Hawgs, as Ley says “you’re not cooking GA barbecue with out it.”
A Few Words On Georgia Style BBQ
Similar to South Carolinians, Georgians enjoy a bit of vinegar kick in their BBQ. As such, you’ll see at least two of these competitors inject with a vinegar based product. One stays closer to a sweet and smoky profile, but I’ll let you watch to see who does what, and how it works out for them.
After getting a sneak peek of the way BBQ Pitmasters Season 5 is looking, I think we’re in for a great run. Tune in this Saturday April 12 9 PM ET so you can find out who will win the first battle of the season to move on to the semi-finals for a shot at the grand prize and coveted title of BBQ Pitmasters Grand Champion.