A few years ago I started a 501(c)3 charity, the World Junior BBQ League (worldjrbbqleague.com) The main aim of the charity is to help create BBQ events for young people. Our teens should be involved in more than just video games. I want them to learn teamwork, work ethic, planning skills, leadership, and so much more under the guise of simply learning to cook BBQ. The world of barbecue has been amazing to me, and this is my way of giving back. While covid set us back, we have been working to grow our recognition and create more events. That’s why I was so happy to have a World Junior BBQ League Contest in the Cayman Islands- our first international event!
Putting the WJBL event together
No charity can exist without sponsors and people who believe in the aims of the program. A few years ago I met Liz Wunderlich with the US Meat Export Federation (usmef.org) This association promotes the use and export of US grown meat to other countries. Liz is over the Caribbean. A brief conversation I had with her about the WJBL turned into her spearheading an effort to get events going in the region. She really is a great advocate for US meats, and thankfully for us, for the WJBL as well! She called on some contacts who took a leap of faith with us, and the next thing we know we’re on Grand Cayman conducting our event!
Amazing Sponsors for our WJBL event on Grand Cayman
Any event like this takes an amazing amount of effort from volunteers. Luckily, Liz knew some amazing people and pulled them together to help make this event a reality. Chrystal Edwards from the host site A.L. Thompson (ALThompson.com -truly the most amazing hardware store you’ll ever see) spent a ton of time and effort on the event. She even greeted us at the airport with some super tasty Jamaican meat pies (I’m definitely going to have to make a recipe for those- they were awesome!) Brian Dempsey of Orgill spearheaded a donation from Charbroil of 6 grills for the contest. Bayou Classic (bayouclassic.com -a Mississippi company!) stepped up with charcoal for the event. Foster’s, (Fosters.ky -the island’s premier grocery,) also agreed to help with meat used and many other items. So many thanks to all involved with this event.
Training Judges and Kids!
As we want this to be an annual event and grow to even more islands, we held a judges’ training session on Friday night, and then went over rules and training with the kids on Saturday morning before the cook. We cooked briskets, pork butts, and ribs, and then went over how to judge, scoring criteria, and more with the judges. On Saturday, we went over basic cooking techniques, how to present their product in a turn-in box, and more with the kids. A bit chaotic, but rewarding!
How about the Young People?
Ok, enough about adults, let’s talk about the kids cooking. This was the first structured cooking competition that most of these kids had been exposed to, and questions were expected and plenty of support was provided. They cooked Top Sirloin Caps (aka churrasco steaks or culottes) and pork loins. We had some absolutely amazing entries turned in- these kids were brining, seasoning with jerk and local ingredients, making amazing sauces, and more. In the end, a team from Cayman Brac (a small island 90 miles away from Grand Cayman with a population of around 2,000) won the contest! And guess what, a team from the special needs school on the island came in second! Really heartwarming and fun.
Help us Support the WJBL
If you would like to sponsor the WJBL, or know of an event organizer who would like to put on a WJBL event, please let me know! You can comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. These kids learn so much, and I really want to help spread the gospel of BBQ to our next generation. Thank you!