Antigua Barbecue Competition Attracts Wide Range of Caribbean Chefs

Antigua BBQ image USMEF recently showcased U.S. beef and pork for Caribbean food and beverage professionals by hosting a first-ever barbecue competition on the island of Antigua. The competition was held in conjunction with an annual food and beverage industry event conducted by the region’s importers and distributors.

“The really fun part of this competition was that we featured four cuts that are relatively new to the Antigua market,” said USMEF Caribbean representative Elizabeth Wunderlich. “On the pork side, we had pork Boston butts and St. Louis pork ribs. For beef, we featured shoulder clod heart and beef back ribs. Most of these chefs had never seen beef back ribs before they’ve done a lot of ribs in the Caribbean islands in the past, but just not from beef.”

On the day before the competition, all entrants attended a USMEF barbecue seminar featuring Mike Compton, president of the Caribbean Barbecue Association.

“Mike is a really wonderful pit master. He did a whole seminar on cooking low and slow, except for the shoulder clod heart, which can be cooked ‘fast and furious’ because it’s a more tender muscle,” Wunderlich said. “It was very informative, and a great introduction to these alternative cuts of U.S. beef and pork.”

The barbecue competition, made possible through support from the Pork Checkoff and Beef Checkoff Programs, attracted a wide range of participants from varying backgrounds.

“We had everyone from the street vendor who cooks barbecue down on the beach to the executive chef from the highest-end hotel on the island. So you really had all walks of life doing their own thing with U.S. beef and pork,” Wunderlich said.

Prizes were awarded in seven different categories, with the Grand Champion award being captured by Colleen Simpson, executive chef for Antigua’s National School Meals Program. She now qualifies to participate in the Caribbean Barbecue Association’s 2010 Caribbean Cook-off to be held June 26-27 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.