How do you like your barbecue?
Hot and sloppy, dripping down the back of your hands. Just the right marriage of vinegar, mustard and brown sugar. Bathing a handful of tender, falling-off-the-bones slow-roasted ribs.
Indiana native Robert Moreau and his partners had the concoction that earned a sticky thumbs-up from the judges on the “BBQ Pitmasters” TV show, and they’re moving on in a contest to find America’s best barbecue.
Their “Team Bibs,” representing Bib’s Downtown restaurant of Winston-Salem, N.C., won a first-round battle of barbecue in a show that aired June 2 on the Destination America cable channel, and Moreau said their next round of competition will air in late July or early August.
Moreau, a 1988 graduate of Indiana High School, is the business operations manager. His partners are Ricky Wayne Seamon and Mark “Pig Daddy” Little, the house pitmaster. And they’ve been the owners of Bib’s since December 2008.
It’s the trio’s first foray into competition, and they like the way it’s going.
“We are really excited that we were chosen,” Little said. “It’s an honor to be a part of it and to compete on a national level.”
“It is a Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) type judging,” Moreau explained. “You submit two meats and they judge on overall appearance then the taste of each meat.” The taste, texture and presentation are the main criteria to name a winner in each round.
The “BBQ Pitmasters” TV show welcomes restaurant owners, professional cooks and competition-centered cooks to its tournament.
“I don’t know much about competition-style stuff but it is big business. We are just getting into (it) now as a result of the show,” Moreau said.
In the first round, in Mobile, Ala., Team Bibs pitted their Carolina specialty against a restaurant from Tennessee and a professional barbecue cook from Texas, Moreau said.
Bibs Restaurant calls its flagship barbecue sauce a “bestern” Carolina style mixture and they promote it with the slogan, “It’s not Eastern or Western, it’s Bestern!”
“‘Bestern’ is a Bib’s way of saying we are settling the debate between Eastern North Carolina style barbecue and Western North Carolina style barbecue,” Moreau explained. “In the barbecue world, everyone has their techniques and ways of doing things, so it is always healthy to tell everyone yours is the best, to keep the debate going.”
The show’s new season is set to run 13 weeks. It began with 27 competitors, competing three at a time over nine shows. The nine semifinalists, including Team Bibs, will be narrowed to three over three weeks, then the three finalists face off to determine the champion.
To keep the playing field equal, each team has to prepare the same kind of meal with the same cuts of meat provided by the producers.
There’s a slow-cooked meat done in eight to 12 hours, and a comparatively fast-cooked meal that has to be done in two to four hours.
“Meats are provided for you,” Moreau said. “We didn’t know what meats we were going to get. All three teams in our round were issued pork shoulder and then issued a couple whole chickens.”
Team Bibs’ style, indeed, was the Bestern of them all — on that day.
The Destination America network is carried on channel 286 on DirecTV satellite, and on channel 194 on Dish Network satellite.
Online: Destination America, http://america.discovery.com/