Local barbecue team will compete in World Food Championships this fall

Lynchburg’s vet Dr. Bryant Morton (far left) and The Barking Pig BBQ team members Duane Regynski (middle) and Tripp Kingree (right) pose in Gadsden, Alabama on April 9. Their combined high score at Smoke on the Falls earned them a “golden ticket” to the World Food Championships in Dallas in November. (Photo Provided)

FLAT CREEK, Tenn. — Lynchburg vet and competitive barbecuer Dr. Bryant Morton says when he and The Barking Pig BBQ team headed to Gadsden, Alabama on April 9 for Smoke on the Falls the last thing on his mind was winning a “golden ticket” to the World Food Championships (WFC).

“I’m not sure I realized that it was a qualifying event,” Dr. Morton says. “It might have been printed in small type on the bottom of the contest sheet. I wasn’t going there planning on winning the golden ticket. I can tell you that much.”

On that day, The Barking Pig BBQ, earned a combined high score – including several perfect scores in the chicken and ribs category – to not only win the 2022 Back Yard Grand Championship but also to be the lone team, amateur or professional, chosen that day to compete in the World Food Championships.

“They made a really big deal about the fact that an amateur team had won that “golden ticket,” Dr. Morton says. “Once we started looking at the resumes of some of the other teams that have won the World Food Championships before, it really hit home. There are some impressive teams on that list.”

Dr. Morton says as they sat listening to winners, they knew with a first place finish in chicken and a second place finish in ribs, their total point score would be high, but he was still surprised when they called his team’s name as the grand champion of the amateur division.

“After the excitement settled, we checked our scores. A score of 180 is a perfect score in the barbecue world. It means all six judges gave you a nine out of nine in three different categories, the team explained on their social media page. “A perfect 180 is the golden ring in the barbecue world. It is rare and difficult to obtain. Out of 12 judges total who tasted our chicken and our ribs, half the judges gave us a perfect score. With a 178.3 in chicken and a 175.4 in ribs, our combined total score was 353.7 out of 360.”

That score earned them not only top honors that day but also an opportunity to compete in Dallas this fall for World’s Best BBQ bragging rights.

The World Food Competitions launched in 2012 and now garners not only the attention of foodies around the world but also serves as a launching pad for many up-and-coming culinary stars, restaurant entrepreneurs, and top chefs. The best of the best from around the world will compete across 10 categories including bacon, BBQ, burgers, dessert, rice and noodles, sandwiches, seafood, soup, steaks, and vegetarian dishes. The WFC is often judged by a panel of celebrity judges like professional football player Bo Jackson or restauranteur Bob Baumhower.

Pro competing at The Jack is the ultimate goal

Dr. Morton self-describes as a vet, local beef producer, and 24/7 foodie. He launched his competitive barbecue team back in 2017. He and his wife, Wendy, bought a competition rig in 2018 and the team qualified for the Jack Daniel’s World Invitational Barbecue’s Shade Tree division in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Dr. Morton spends his days caring for the dogs, cats, and farm animals of Lynchburg and more often that not spends his weekends barbecuing –– competitively and for the public. He says that Wendy does not care for the stress and pressure of competition days but her help, ideas, and support behind the scene are instrumental.

In addition to competitive barbecuing and cooking for the public, The Barking Pig BBQ team donates endless volunteer hours benefit cooking for groups like Lynchburg Friends of Animals and the Flat Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

Though many category winners at the World Food Competitions often label their winning recipes as “world’s best,” Dr. Morton says that even if they won, calling his “the world’s best barbecue” would feel a little presumptuous.

“There are so many good teams out there and guys like, Tuffy Stone, who is my barbecue idol, that are just so talented,” Dr. Morton says. “If we win, I might have the world’s best barbecue on that day, but I would never be comfortable claiming more than that.”

Dr. Morton says that a win in Dallas would come with a $10,000 prize and an invitation to cook at the Select World Championship with its $100,000 prize but his ultimate goal has always been to compete as a pro team at The Jack right here in Lynchburg.

“The experience of parking our rig down in Wiseman Park and competing as a pro team has always been my dream. I wouldn’t even care if we won or placed. I just think being able to say we competed would be a huge accomplishment.”

The World Food Competitions will take place over five days (November 7-12) in Fair Park located in Dallas, Texas. We’ll publish details for watching the event closer to the date. If you’d like to follow the Barking Pigs BBQ’s journey along the way, you can like their Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}