INTRODUCTION Barbecue is a guy thing, a throwback to the spit-roasted woolly mammoth, perhaps. It tends to be written about today (and debated in endless detail) like a sporting event, which in fact it has become: thousands of tiny local competitions are rapidly giving way to several major barbecue leagues, with their own playoffs, World Series—and six-figure purses.
—Molly O’Neill, American Food Writing
Back on September 19, 2008, we were just two passionate backyard cooks entering the world of competition barbecue for the first time. We pulled into the parking lot of our first contest not knowing...