Over the weekend I learned a lot about barbecue - and ate a lot of barbecue - at the Do AC Smokin' Hot BBQ Championships in Atlantic City. The event was held in the large parking lot adjacent to Showboat Casino.

More than 80 BBQ teams from across the country competed in the competition, with $50,000 in total prize money at stake - the largest cash prize on the East Coast for a BBQ competition. (Event organizers have already pledged to double the prize money next year.)

My involvement started Saturday morning as I had to attend a class in order to be a judge for the competition. (The Kansas City Barbecue Society takes this stuff seriously!) Also in the three hour class was Joey Fatone, formerly of the group *NSync, who currently hosts a cooking show on the Live Well TV Network. Fatone is really a "regular guy" - easy to talk to and very accommodating to his many fans. (He was on "Dancing with the Stars!)

After passing the class on Saturday, I came back to be one of the 90+ judges of the competition on Sunday.  Each judge was required to judge 6 different competitor entries in the categories of chicken, ribs, pork, and beef brisket. We judges on appearance, taste, and texture.

While it was fun and interesting, it was also very filling. We each had over 2 1/2 pounds of meat in front of us! I quickly earned you don't eat ever morsel of every entry - but, you sure need to try everything enough so you can make a judgement.

After two hours of judging, the votes were tallied, and eventually the winners announced.

The Grand Champion - and winners of a $10,000 first prize was the team, Chix, Swine, & Bovine BBQ. In addition to being the overall winner, they also took home the trophy for Chicken, and finished third in both ribs and brisket - quite an accomplishment!

The BBQ Guru was the Reserve Champion (2nd place overall) - they also won the first place trophy for brisket. The Ribs winner was GoneHoggin.com, and the pork winner was Meet@Slims.

All in all, in was a fun weekend - and, it's already on the calendar for next year!

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