Smokin’ Hot BBQ Championship at ilani seeking amateur chefs to compete

The second ilani BBQ Fest is set to be bigger and better than ever, with amateur grillmasters invited to join the Smokin' Hot BBQ Championship, offering cash prizes and the opportunity to sell their food at the festival, alongside professional chefs.
Celebrity chef Rick Browne, a former Clark County resident, is an organizers of the iliani BBQ Fest. He is looking for amateur teams to compete in the second Smokin’ Hot BBQ Championship. Sign up this week. Photo courtesy Rick Browne

The competition is part of the ilani BBQ Fest, which takes place in June

Paul Valencia

The first ilani BBQ Fest was a huge success, and organizers expect an even bigger and better event this year — especially if they get a few more amateurs to enter the Smokin’ Hot BBQ Championship.

“If you can barbecue in your backyard, and people say you’re good, come and join us,” said Rick Browne, a celebrity chef himself, a former Clark County resident, and one of the organizers of the BBQ Fest. “We want people to experience the barbecue competition world in a very gentle, fun way.”

In all, there are 13 cash prizes, totalling $15,000. The grand prize winner will receive $5,000. 

The second ilani BBQ Fest begins its four-day run June 8, with the Smokin’ Hot BBQ Championship going on for two days, June 10 and 11.

Got what it takes? Backyard barbecue grillmasters are asked to register by May 19. The registration form can be found here:

Cost is $50 per team, but keep in mind that this year, amateur teams will be able to sell their food at the BBQ Fest, Browne said.

This is an amateur competition, and the field is limited to 20 teams.

Beyond the cash rewards, ilani and BBQ Fest organizers say winners will get bragging rights for the Pacific Northwest. 

The competition consists of four categories: pork belly and beef back ribs on Saturday, with salmon and whole chicken on Sunday. The food will be judged on creativity, taste, tenderness, and presentation. In order to be eligible for the grand prize, teams must compete in all four categories.

Browne said that backyard barbecue aficionados can handle the expectations of the contest rules. He reminded folks that this event — for amateurs — is intended to be fun, not stressful.

Last year, more than 6,000 people attended the BBQ Fest, and many of them tasted samples from the amateurs. 

Of course, the BBQ Fest itself features professionals from around the country, showcasing their work at demonstrations. Among the chefs scheduled to appear this year: Kevin Bludso, Rocco DeSpirito, Christina Fitzgerald, Aaron May, Michael Symon, Jet Tila, and more.

The ilani BBQ Fest has cooking demonstrations, sponsor booths, and more on the top floor of the parking garage. Plus, the Fest uses plenty of space in front of the casino for the barbecue competition. 

For ticket cost and more information on the ilani BBQ Fest, go to:

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