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Why Do Barbecue Pitmasters Wear Black Gloves?

Why Do Barbecue Pitmasters Wear Black Gloves?


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We’re asking the tough questions here at The Daily Meal

They do look pretty badass.

If you’ve been keeping tabs on de rigeur accessories for barbecue pitmasters these days, you’ve probably noticed that just about all of them, when they wear gloves, choose to wear jet black ones. We’ve never seen anyone wearing black gloves except for those working with barbecue, in fact, so… what gives?

There are actually a few different reasons why pitmasters wear black gloves. First of all, yes, they look cool. Barbecue is really messy stuff, and the black color does a much better job of hiding all those grease, sauce, and rub stains than standard foodservice gloves.

Also, barbecue cooks prefer to use nitrile gloves (made out of synthetic rubber) instead of the latex or vinyl ones, for a wide variety of reasons. They’re a lot tougher than latex or vinyl, can be worn for a long time, don’t contain any powders, and are tested for durability by the FDA. Nitrile gloves tend to come in two colors, blue and black, so the wearer can immediately see if there’s a puncture. Most people associate blue gloves with dentists and surgeons, so black becomes the obvious choice. Also, unlike latex and vinyl gloves, nitrile gloves come in varying thicknesses. Many pitmasters choose to go for the heavy-duty ones, like these, which are more resistant to heat and sharp things like knives, bones, and cartilage.

Also, did we mention that they look cool?

If you're in the mood for barbecue, check out one of America's best barbecue chains.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

All of reality blurred’s content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

All of reality blurred’s content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

All of reality blurred’s content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

All of reality blurred’s content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

All of reality blurred’s content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

All of reality blurred’s content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

All of reality blurred’s content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

All of reality blurred’s content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

All of reality blurred’s content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.


American Barbecue Showdown: a great cast fires up Netflix’s new BBQ competition

American Barbecue Showdown is a new Netflix reality competition that doesn&rsquot attempt to reinvent or reimagine the form, it just retreads well-trod territory. Food Network has been to barbecue land before, with Chopped Grill Masters even a Food Network Challenge episode titled &ldquoGreat American BBQ Showdown.&rdquo And there was TLC and Destination America&rsquos BBQ Pitmasters, which followed teams as they traveled to BBQ competitions.

So this is not new. But there&rsquos also not a requirement to reinvent the reality competition wheel with every show, because if you do it well, as The American Barbecue Showdown does, it&rsquos a perfectly fine eight episodes that are easy to roll through.

Having a barbecue-themed competition premiering in late September, at the end of the summer rather than the beginning, does feel a little odd, especially since episode two has a Fourth of July-themed challenge. But this is a weird year&mdashwith summer reality shows airing in the fall&mdashso it may not be noticeable.

What&rsquos very noticeable is the heat. It&rsquos a very sweaty show, between the temperature of the grills and Georgia in summer. &ldquoI think my eyelashes are melting,&rdquo contestant Tina says. Filmed last September outside of Atlanta, at a Covington, Georgia, wedding venue called EnChanning Occasions, it&rsquos set in a massive, cavernous barn that&rsquos become a pantry and kitchen, while each contestant has their own barbecue area outside with multiple ways of smoking and grilling.

The American Barbecue Showdown hosts Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, and judges Melissa Cookston and Kevin Bludso (Photo by Netflix)

Despite the larger scale and outdoor location, The American Barbecue Showdown is definitely more Food Network than The Great British Bake-Off, though starting with its title, it obviously tries to hit some UK cooking show notes, with varying degrees of success: there are flat and uninspired illustrations of the contestants&rsquo planned barbecue, and each episode ends with a charming lemonade and iced tea toast between the remaining contestants.

It also has interviews where the contestants say empty things like, I&rsquom either going home or I&rsquom staying and some really obvious voice-over, which I&rsquom always suspicious of in reality competitions.

There are moments of levity, but The American Barbecue Showdown also wants to be taken seriously. There&rsquos kindness, but also some acerbic criticism. In the first episode, the judges sit in chairs, with the hosts perched on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, and telegraph everything they&rsquore going to say again when they actually try the food. Literally none of the judges&rsquo decisions are a surprise.

But the judges are. Melissa Cookston, a 7-time world barbecue champion, is essentially the head judge and might as well be the host, too. Cookston, who&rsquos judged BBQ Pitmasters and wrote Smokin&rsquo in the Boys&rsquo Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, introduces challenges, gives color commentary that&rsquos incisive and educational, talks to the contestants, and drawls lines like, &ldquoAdapt and overcome, baby,&rdquo and &ldquoYou want to eat me because I&rsquom a big old bad barbecue sandwich.&rdquo

Tina Cannon on American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

Kevin Bludso, a well-known pitmaster and restaurant owner who&rsquos also been on Bar Rescue and judged the Canadian show Fire Masters (which airs on Cooking Channel in the US), is the other judge, and is the best with vivid descriptions and reactions to what he&rsquos eating.

Together, they have everything covered, but for some unclear reason, American Barbecue Showdown also has two hosts. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis have almost nothing to do. They&rsquore like one-ply paper napkins at a barbecue: ultimately pointless and ineffective.

The challenges do present real challenges, especially with limited time for infusing flavor or slow cooking, but the producers also pile on mid-challenge challenges. When one contestant, Georgia, is told about the &ldquomid-smoke challenge,&rdquo she says, &ldquoThere wasn&rsquot time in the schedule for a twist.&rdquo says Georgia, who&rsquos planned everything out for the challenge, and I can&rsquot quite imagine how she&rsquos never watched a reality competition.

Its most creative idea is episode four&rsquos bracketed competition within an episode: everyone competes in several rounds&mdashcreating sandwiches&mdashbut those on the top move into a winners bracket, safe from the possibility of elimination.

But where it excels is in its casting&mdashof its judges, and with its contestants. And more specifically, it&rsquos excellent at tying its contestants lives and experiences to their food, exploring why they&rsquore making the choices they are, whether to honor a friend and former barbecue competition team member, or to honor their heritage.

(The American Barbecue Showdown&rsquos episodes are dedicated to Mary Fanto, the show&rsquos casting director, who died last year. She also worked on casting other reality shows, including The Great American Baking Show.)

Rasheed Philips, a contestant on The American Barbecue Showdown (Photo by Netflix)

The editing gives us multiple layers, so the contestants aren&rsquot as one-note as they can be on Food Network shows, and because they&rsquove been well-cast, they all have interesting backgrounds.

Rasheed Philips, for example, was born in Jamaica, and has great-grandparents who lived in Columbia, where they helped build the Panama Canal and introduced him to Latin cuisine. And while he knows barbecue, he learned to cook from Julia Child.

Tina Cannon went to culinary school and has since won barbecue championships now she works as a chef for Meals on Wheels. Tina&rsquos reactions to twists and to ingredients she&rsquos been assigned should become GIFs or memes.

The contestants are characters, literally: there&rsquos a contestant named Shotgun and another named Grubbs. Grubbs tells us he spells &ldquosandwich&rdquo &ldquosammich,&rdquo and told a journalist that the show&rsquos producers told him to delete a 2013 social media post about Elizabeth Warren.

You can feel the way the editing does the same thing: softens everyone&rsquos and everything&rsquos edges so ultimately this will be a likable show. The contestants do seem legitimately nice and kind to each other, quick to offer each other help and hugs.

I&rsquom so grateful we&rsquore safely be past the Hell&rsquos Kitchen era of reality TV food competition, and also glad to have a competent, well-cast reality competition like The American Barbecue Showdown.

American Barbecue Showdown: B+

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Comments:

  1. Derren

    did not regret it!

  2. Salvador

    Bravo, this idea is necessary just by the way

  3. Momuso

    Eh, somehow sad !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Stanhope

    What words ... fantastic

  5. Goltikazahn

    I think this - the wrong way. And with it he should stay.



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