…Putting the Backyard back into BBQ

Competition BBQ is all the rage these days and people spend thousands, if not tens of thousands, to compete in them.  But where does that leave you and I who make great stuff on a grill we bought at Lowe’s/Home Depot/Amazon/etc.?  Even the Grillin Fools feel intimidated by those with the means to buy custom rigs and apply cool paint jobs to them, not to mention that some of these people are professional chefs.  The only culinary school I went to was the Culinary School of Hard Knocks where I learned how to burn and under cook meat for years before I figured out how to do it properly.

Well, now Joe Backyard BBQer has a place to compete.  The Grillin Fools are having a BBQ Competition in which all the cooking has to be done on mass market grills purchased for less than $500.  If some of the pros want to compete in this competition they can, as I don’t personally know every professional chef in town, but I would prefer they not even enter, but if they do enter the pros have to use the same grills as us joes.  The highest end grill we will allow is a large Big Green Egg because the grill alone, with no accessories, can be found for $500, as well as Ugly Drum Smokers (UDS’s) as they don’t impede the intent of the contest.

The date is Saturday, October 9th at Sylvan Springs Park across the street from Jefferson Barracks.

We have the very retro Ordnance Pavilion:

I chose this one because of this last picture showing the concrete area out front which should accommodate 20 teams nicely, particularly if we have any inclement weather.  Better to be on concrete than dirt or a grassy slope if it rains.  Also, since I expect quite a few teams from Illinois as well as Missouri I thought this was a good spot right in the middle.

There will be three categories with a trophy for each as well as one for Best in Smoke, which will go to the team with the most points in all three categories which are: Appetizer (please get as creative as you like), Pork Steak, and Ribs.  Best in Smoke will also win a grill donated by Char-Broil’s website Char-Broil LIVE.  We are working to have more prizes along with the trophies and the grill.  I will let you know about that as soon as I hear back from a few people.  You may compete in one, two or all three of the categories.

Here are the category trophies donated by Ken Lowe at St. Louis Trophy and Engraving on Olive near 170.  They are setting on Dad’s new Char-Broil 940X which we will have a review of shortly and will be on display at the event and in action in the grilling demos:

Will your name be here?

***9/30/2010 update***

It’s here at last.  The big dog trophy.  Which one is that?  The one for Best in Smoke:

Here is the top of the trophy:

That’s right, it’s got an offset smoker on it.  Just the top is impressive on it’s own.  Now check out some of the other features.  Will your names be here:

And will your team name be here:

Add all of that up and you get this:

42 inches of immortalized glory should your team be good enough to bring in this hardware!!!  Thanks to Ken at St. Louis Trophy and Engraving for hooking us up with these amazing trophies.

There will be no food for sale at the event.  Too much hassle to deal with the health department.  But there will be lots of samples.  We will be doing grilling demos of crostinis, flat iron steaks, grilled romaine, grilled bacon wrapped peppers and pizzas.  Also, the teams may give out samples as well.  Maybe next year we can sell food, but this year it was too much work.

We will be selling soda and bottled water as well as Grillin Fools T-Shirts, Aprons, and Beer Cozies. There will also be a raffle for prizes donated by Char-Broil, Andria’s Steak House, Iron Barley, and some from the Grillin Fools.  There will be a 50/50 raffle as well.

So far our celebrity judges include George Mahe from St. Louis Magazine.  We met George last year at a BBQ contest he was judging.  George is a great guy and you can follow his antics here. We also have Joe Bonwich, Food Critic and Editor for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and his lovely wife Jennie.  You can read Joe in the paper and on his blog.  We also have KMOX radio personality John Carney as a judge.  Here is a link to his show which airs weeknights at 8:00 PM.

Check in is slated at 8:00 a.m. with judging for the three categories being one hour apart with Appetizers at 3:00 pm, Pork Steaks at 4:00 pm and Ribs at 5:00 pm.  Those of you that do not need that long to do ribs or pork steaks can arrive later than 8:00.  The early check in is for those that like to take the longest with their ribs.

As for the $500 cap on grills, we realize that this competition will likely require more than one grill.  The $500 cap does not apply to the cumulative cost of all your grills.  If you bring five grills that cost $499 each you’re fine.  The rule is that all grilling has to be done on a sub $500 grill not how many grills it is done on.  We will allow a Large Big Green Egg, as the grill alone with no accessories can be purchased for $500 as well a Ugly Drum Smokers.

Buy in is only $50/team with half the proceeds going to Wounded Warrior Project and the Fisher House.  Since we will be across the street from Jefferson Barracks, as well as the fact that we are currently fighting two wars, and my dad and cousin are both vets, we thought these two worthy causes would be great.

We are limiting this to only 20 teams for our first Backyard BBQ Bash so get your entry fees in early.  Email Greg@GrillinFools.com to find out where you should send your check along with team name and names of your team members.  As of 8/26/2010 we still have a couple spots open.

Sylvan Springs Park is off Sheridan road East of Telegraph just north of 255 at:

300 Halsey St
St Louis, MO 63125

Here is a link to the location that you can type in your address to get directions.

Here is a map.  X marks the pavilion:

And here is an aerial view of the park with the Ordnance Pavilion being the gray box in the upper right.  There is a second parking lot to the north of the pavilion just outside this picture which is where the teams will check in as it has vehicle access to the spots for loading and unloading of equipment:

With only 20 slots, this event will fill fast.  Get your entry in soon if you want to compete.  And of course, you don’t have to compete to come down and check it out.

Also, you can get updates and follow us on our Grillin Fools Facebook page.

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas


https://t.co/lVWgniik3V - #GrillPorn abounds here. All meat, all the time!
Check out this steak of beauty right here! Gorgeous (in my head I heard Steve Irwin the Cr… https://t.co/HfBFLgIoGA https://t.co/6m4sm9e3LW - 11 hours ago
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This sounds like a great idea. Will there be a fee for spectators? How about samples?


No fee for spectators. As for samples, that’s up to the grill teams. We are not allowed to sell anything without a permit from the health department.

BTW, I was meaning to call you. What are you doing the 9th? We could use some volunteers….

For the rib category, are you specifying whether they have to be BBR’s or spares, or is that up to the griller?



That is entirely up to the griller. I think most big time competition BBQ folks use spares, but I prefer BBR’s. Then again, I won’t be doing any of the judging, nor will any of the three Grillin Fools, so do whatever it is you feel is best…


What a fantastic idea. Wished I lived closer as I would come. Have you contacted any of the food TV networks? I bet they would be interested in filming this, and maybe even creating an amateur BBQ contest show around this idea.



That’s a really good idea. I think I might contact the Food Network and Cooking TV and see what could come of it… Worst case, I send an email and never get a response. Best case? Best case would be awesome…


So excited for this! we do not have a team name yet, we do have our pork steak recipe down, working on perfecting the ribs and trying to think off an outside the box type appetizer. gonna be a great weekend with this and oktoberfest…. speaking of… what are the park rules about alcohol consumption? i always have a beer or two while i am grillin.



The only rule is that we are not allowed to sell any. So bring your own and enjoy. We’ll be sending out some guidelines and rules for the event in a couple of weeks…



awesome, i just wanted to make sure we were gona be respectfull of the park’s rules….
i am so stoked on meeting everyone! we have already started perfecting our recipes. our lucky friends are getting fed well for a few weeks, hahaha


Are there any spots open for October 9th?


Yes. Email my dad at Greg (At) GrillinFools (dot) com and he will take care of you.

Joe, did my dad email you?

Hi Guys,

Your Wounded Warrior Project link is broken. Please consider donating to the EOD Wounded Warrior Foundation.




The EOD Wounded Warrior looks like a great organization, but it’s a little late in the game to add a fund. Maybe next year we will go with the EOD Wounded Warrior Project.

Thanks for the heads up on the link. It has been fixed….


The trophies look great. Looking foward to the competition.


Are you going to post the final winning results?


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