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Forbes just did an article on competition BBQ. One of my favorite lines –
And unlike most cuisines, many of the best barbecue masters don’t even have restaurants – there is no huge hobbyist group of ultra-passionate sushi cooks who devote all their time and resources to traveling around preparing sushi for competition judges.
The other premise of the article was that BBQ done in a commercial are inferior to those done in a competition setting. I would disagree with that. The one thing that competition bbq does is impose a sort of Kansas City uniformity to barbecue. The competitors by and large don’t like eating their own BBQ. Johnny Trigg, a heavy winner in the ribs category states openly he doesn’t like his competition ribs. He prefers his Texas style with just salt and pepper and heavy post-oak smoke. Aaron Franklin is a legend in BBQ circles but doesn’t compete and yet is nationally acclaimed as the best brisket cook in the country. His brisket – soft and tender with only a salt and pepper rub would easily lose in a KCBS BBQ contest.
Tuffy Stone has won many many contests and some very big ones. His trophies dot the entire restaurant. The wife was long sick of BBQ by the time we arrived in Virginia. She picked the hotel for the sweeping views and colonial aesthetics. Much to her dismay, I discovered that Tuffy Stone’s Q Barbecue was just around the corner.
It’s very pretty inside with lots of bright warm orange tones. The greatest part was that all the lights were shaped like pig’s snouts. This is modern BBQ, basically crafted from the BBQ competition circuit. We dug in for some ribs and brisket. Mr Stone is well known on the circuit as a top brisket cook. The one thing the Forbes article might have right is that people might not put as much care into their BBQ in their restaurants, and as I discovered, this was true for their pits. There were two massive gas powered smokers in plain view from the dining room. Competition BBQ will not allow you to use gas powered smokers. You only have the option of cooking with charcoal and wood.
The brisket was cooked to pull and wasn’t all that flavorsome. The ribs were nicely seasoned and I enjoyed them quite a bit. I’m not a fan of his sauce. It’s definitely different than what many others offer, which I applaud him for. It was dark, very molasses based with a hint of Worcestershire. I did appreciate the onion rings they had. Love a good onion ring.
Our two desserts were a nice end to a meal. Pie is the king of bbq desserts. Yes you can have cobbler, but pie is a good proper dessert. I got the massive chocolate pudding one and the wife had the keylime. The chocolate was divine and the key lime a tad too sweet. Tuffy Stone’s Q barbecue is a great neighborhood joint, clean, inviting and a great change from other fast food. I wouldn’t put it up there with destination places but who knows? some day he might move back to all wood cooking.