Hot on the heels of our first international World JR BBQ C0ntest in the Cayman Islands, we also had a contest in Guatemala! I must say, I was very impressed as the teams really showed amazing planning, preparation, and teamwork throughout the whole event. They made delicious marinades and sauces from scratch, timed out their cooks exceptionally well, and cooked as though they had worked together for years. Very impressive!
Traveling to Guatemala
Last year the Ermita Rotary Club invited me down to their BBQ contest as a judge, and I fell in love with the country and the people there. I met some truly amazing people from the Rotary Club and the attendees, teams, and judges at the Barbecue Challenge. This year I asked them to host a WJBL event and they graciously did. So, I went down to help operate the contest and revisit this amazing country.
The Barbecue Challenge
The Barbecue Challenge, hosted by the Rotary Club of Ermita, is a one-day festival in Cayala, an upscale community in Guatemala City. The festival features bands, entertainment, contests, and, most of all, food! Teams cook massive amounts of chicken, pork ribs, panela (a cheese for grilling,) pork collar (aka pork neck or coppa,) and picanha steak (aka churrasco steak, top sirloin cap, or sirloin cap steak.) The public can buy tickets and come in and sample the offerings from the teams. The teams also turn in samples to be judged, for which the winners receive snazzy trophies. Read more about my visit as a judge to the event from last year here.
Of course, I couldn’t visit Guatemala without taking in some of the amazing sights and people in the country. We revisited Antigua, Guatemala. Antigua is a beautiful colonial city a couple of hours outside Guatemala City. My mother and daughter joined me on this trip, so we took a day trip there and enjoyed the sights, churches, and food. Antigua is situated between three volcanoes, one of which erupts around every thirty minutes (mainly smoke, not full scale Pompeii eruptions or anything.) A beautiful town that is well worth the visit.
Gerardo, one of my friends I made on my last visit to Guatemala, invited us to his house for dinner one night. At his house/farm, he grows fruit, vegetables, and just has a wonderful, peaceful oasis. He cooked pizza for us, which was some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. His amazing homemade pizza oven cooked the pies perfectly, and his dessert pizza was so good I’ll have to try making it myself. Also, he had some young goats! I just love hugging animals, and he let me hug one! Such a great time.
Bring on the WJBL Teams!
While the adults cooked a lot of meat to provide for the festival-goers, the kids had just as much of a challenge. We judged them on all five categories that the adults cooked. Pretty amazing that these young adults produced some amazing food for five different categories! The teams could not do anything to the meat before the morning. As soon as they arrived, they prepared marinades, sauces, and seasoning blends first thing. Then, they prepped their meats (and cheese) and got to cooking. I must say, I was so impressed with their skillsets, planning, and flavors. Each team made their own spices and sauces- some of the flavors were truly incredible. I am so impressed with some of these young adults and how they go about their contest performances.
Of course, the awards were very tight, but the team Pura Utz pulled out a close win! I’m proud to say that we’re working on getting them sponsors and visas so they can come to our championship. It will be held October 21 in Southaven, Mississippi, at my BBQ Allstars store! The prize purse for the event is well over $20,000 in cash and prizes!
What is the WJBL about?
The WJBL is about bringing young adults of high school age together and teaching them life skills through BBQ. In addition to learning to cook, they also learn about teamwork, planning, preparation, leadership, follow-through, and more. We have “Skills beyond the Grill” as our motto because the BBQ contest is just a fun, teachable vehicle that drives all of these important other skills. The WJBL is all-inclusive, and we believe in going the extra mile for at-risk youth. Please join us in supporting kids today through our 501c3 charity!