Tag Archive: Tuffy Stone

  1. Smithfield BBQ Classic, Smithfield, VA

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    by Brian Walrath, MABA Board Member and Pitmaster for Brown Liquor BBQ

    When Arlie Bragg promotes an event and gets Sterling “Big Poppa” Ball and Tuffy Stone involved to be hosts, it’s a pretty big deal event.  Now put that event in the hometown of hog, the parish of pig, the city of swine…Smithfield, VA, and you’ve got something special!  In fact, Smithfield’s presence was huge, being the title sponsor and contributing meat to the competition teams.  Texas may know a little something about beef but when it comes to pork, Virginia is where it’s at!  To sweeten a nice purse of $10,600, Sterling Ball kicked in a spot to this year’s King of the Smokers (KOS) event in California later this year.  Not only did this bring out the big guns of the Mid-Atlantic, it also attracted marquee teams from all over the country.

    The setting in Smithfield was a nice flat open park and shortly after teams got settled in, it was time for an early cook’s meeting.  Another feature making this a truly unique event was that each team got a cooler with their competition meats.  Snake River Farms provided the brisket, Springer Mountain Farms the chicken, and all the pork was Smithfield!  And just like that, teams swiftly moved back to their sites to start trimming and preparing their meats for the competition cook.

    Now, word around the water cooler is that there was to be a pretty kick ass pot luck dinner featuring some entrees being prepared by Tuffy and Big Poppa themselves.  But on this weekend I had the honor and privilege of helping out pitmaster Mark Gibbs of Checkered Flag 500 BBQ.  We discovered a local gem called Captain Chuck-A-Muck’s Sandbar and Grill.  More than just a hokey name, this waterfront treasure had great cocktails and killer seafood!

    Fast foward to day two.  When the dust settled and the winner declared, it was Pavone Brothers BBQ who bested the competition on this day and took home the big check and perhaps more important…an invitation to compete in California at KOS!!!

    Chicken – Bub-B-Q
    Ribs – 3 Eyz BBQ
    Pork – Smoke-aholics
    Brisket – Burnt Bean Co.

    RGC – Wolf’s Revenge BBQ
    GC –Pavone Brothers BBQ

    Full KCBS results here.

  2. Mid-Atlantic Teams Do Well at “The Jack”

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    by Mark Gibbs, Pitmaster of The Checkered Flag 500 BBQ

    The Jack Daniel’s World BBQ Championships is in the books for 2017.  This was the Checkered Flag 500 BBQ’s first trip to the hollow and it was a great experience.  This contest is a huge event with a lot of ancillary competitions and side events for the competitors to do.  96 teams from around the world came together to compete and name the World Champion.

    Tuffy Stone and Cool Smoke took home the Grand Champion honors for the 3rd time in the last 4 years.  He has the mojo at this contest for sure!  On a side note, why isn’t our friend from Richmond, Virginia a member of the Mid-Atlantic BBQ Association?  The next time you see Tuffy make sure you ask him and hand him an application!

    MABA was very well represented this year at this prestigious contest.  MABA members took some walks to the stage and gathered up some trophies for the mantel.

    Sauce This – 4th Overall


    Wolf’s Revenge BBQ – 12th Overall


    Chix, Swine & Bovine, bbq – 14th Overall

    BEERBQUE – 22nd Overall

    Checkered Flag 500 BBQ – 28th Overall

    Redneck Scientific – 29th Overall

    Aporkalypse Now – 49th Overall

    Smokin’ Hoggz BBQ – 63rd Overall


    Game On BBQ – 72nd Overall

    Finn’s Finest BBQ – 83rd Overall

    Until this year, I did not realize how big this contest really was for folks that have been there.  This contest has the addictive properties of crack.  The first thing that you think about on the trip home (no matter where you finished in the standings) is how am going to get back next year?  Here is to the competitors of the 2016 Jack and to everyone with hopes of making a trip to Lynchburg in 2017!

  3. From the Judges Table

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    What’s in the Box??

    Image of Brad Pitt from the movie Se7en with words, What's in the Box."By Bill Jones, MABA Board Member and KCBS Master Judge, Table Captain, & Life Member

    In the movie, Se7en, you already know what’s in the box, (Spoiler Alert) “her pretty head”. If in a KCBS clamshell for turn in, a totally different set of items and thankfully so. As a judge we anxiously await each and every box to see what’s inside.

    I recently attended the National BBQ Conference in Jacksonville FL. If you ever get a chance to attend one I highly recommend it. Some of the greats of BBQ come and share their passion from marketing sauces, to competing, to selling product, to running a catering business or restaurant. One of the several classes I took this year was titled “Inside the Minds of Competition Cooks and Judges”. Since my wife will sometime ask the same thing – “what were you thinking,” I figured I would attend and maybe see if they could tell me.

    The panel was made up of a few names you may be familiar with – Tuffy Stone, Myron Mixon, Jim Elser, Chris Lilly, Carolyn Wells, and Will Cleaver.

    What I wanted to share with you was a couple of the topics that came up in hopes this may help some of you with your turn-in boxes. If it does, checks can be sent to my home address.

    Sauce. The issue of over saucing meats and presenting sweet on meats was discussed heavily. Cherry flavored brisket is not the way to go. Chicken that is so thick and gooey one needs to take a knife and scrape off the excess before tasting to see even what kind of meat it is. Ribs like candy bars. Pork so sweet dentists are opening offices just for the judges to visit for a cleaning after contests. The entire panel pushed for teams to get back to BBQ. As Tuffy said – “a LITTLE heat and a LITTLE sweet go a long way in limited amounts.”

    Areas of the country. Those that travel know they need to sometimes adjust what they serve in the boxes. Knowing ahead of time what regions of the country look for in taste is crucial to scoring well. However, you must practice that and know what the changes do to your entries. Jim Elser commented on how he changes when he goes to Kansas versus Florida or Arizona. Hard to fault him with that when he has won 7 GCs already this year alone.

    But the best box commentary was this one…one team asked Myron a direct question regarding their burnt ends and they were not scoring well when they included them. After a few back and forth comments and questions with that team and Myron, it became clear that the team had turned in boxes WITHOUT burnt ends and had actually scored higher in those comps. But when they did turn in burnt ends their scores dropped. Now maybe you may see where this is going – that team sure did not. They continued to ask what did they need to do. Myron finally got their attention when he said. “G _ D _ n son, your burnt ends suck, stop putting them in the box”. The whole room erupted. We all know what needed to be done. But that team just did not see it the same way. The old definition of insanity comes to mind – doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

    As a KCBS Master Judge, I have seen all sorts of things. I have had boxes where I wish the team had only put one item in as that cut were 9s all day long. But they went the extra step and put something else in that just was not good. This past weekend I had two identical brisket entrees – slices and their rendition of burnt ends. Slices would have received 9 and 9 for taste and tenderness. Burnt ends…let’s just say one was a 2 as I had to spit it out (as did two other judges) and the other was a 3 as I was able to get it down. And somehow it stayed down. KCBS does not direct us how to adjust our scores in these cases. So it is left to the judges to mark as they see fit. Those two teams had no chance at Brisket with the scores I gave them, as did my table mates. Had they only given us slices, they might have won, or at least gotten a call.

    And yes, I am well aware of the preconception of judges who expect certain items in the boxes. I will admit there are such judges out there. I will apologize to each of you now for those few judges. In talking with the judges at my tables, I find the overwhelming majority are not those type of judges. So you maybe want to consider only putting your best in the box and letting the chips fall where they may. Because I believe a bad judge who is looking for certain items to be in the box, even if you put what he or she may want to see in the box, is going to kill you on score if it’s not good.

    Good luck to each of you and I hope this will be of some help.