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American Barbecue Showdown review – now this is a cooking competition

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Summary

BBQ in the form of a cooking competition just works and Netflix should produce more of this.

Netflix reality series American Barbecue Showdown season 1 was released on the streaming service on September 18, 2020. This review does not discuss the outcome of winners and losers.


This the type of cooking show we are talking about. Gone are the clean white surfaces — gone are the well-lit studios and Michelin-star chefs nodding with approval at the sauce reduction. American Barbecue Showdown is the cooking competition that we need — throw aside the pompous Great British Bake Off and give us some grit and smoke — we want to smell the oaky flavors through the screen. We need to see the succulent meat.

And as someone who has embraced a 95% plant-based lifestyle, I’d have happily teleported through the screen and sprung out a camping chair and watched these backyard smokers and pitmasters get to work while throwing me the odd plate. There’s so much enthusiasm — their love for the outdoors and the perfect heat and smoke is something that cannot be achieved in other forms of cooking. It feels more street — Netflix’s American Barbecue Showdown is a cooking show that giving BBQing a real quality-measure but the love for the speciality remains intact.

It’s not as good as Chef’s Table BBQ mostly because it’s your stereotypical cooking competition. It does not deeply engage with the history of BBQing; the emotional aspect that drives a pitmaster to love the fires is also a little light. At the end of each episode, a BBQer is eliminated from the competition after the judges taste their plates. The first episode gets the taste buds going as the contestants produce a BBQ combo plate. It’s hard to not feel jealous of the judges munching away to “test” the food with their extensive palettes.

And, yes I may be exaggerating this review but then this is where it gets difficult not to be biased. Food is so personal to our lives that of course preference will shine through in the right series — American Barbecue Showdown season 1 seems to have a way of reeling you in and consuming you with the cooking. BBQ in the form of a cooking competition just works and Netflix should produce more of this.


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