If you ever see smoke from Josh Bryant’s house, no worries. Instead, enjoy the smell and hope that he may share.
Bryant’s dad was in the meat industry and, 25 years ago, they decided to enter into a barbecue competition. They were instantly hooked. Each year between April and October, they enter their team into 12-16 contests throughout Iowa. They have traveled as far as Las Vegas for the World Food Championship, but like to stay local.
The Meadow Valley BBQ Company consists of Bryant, his wife, his mom and dad, and anyone else who decides to show up.
“The team name ties back to my grandpa,” Bryant says. “It was his brand for cattle.”
The team used the logo from his grandpa’s farm, and Bryant’s grandpa even won a pork chop grilling contest in the 1960s.
For every competition the team cooks chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder and beef brisket. The meat is seasoned in the beginning and sauced at the end. They have won several contests which include cash prizes and trophies.
“We’ve won several times at the American Royal Invitational, and received first in pork at the Jack Daniels World Championship,” Bryant says. “I started cooking in my garage. I practiced a lot.”
The team hauls a trailer that was purchased unfinished and now has counters, sinks and bunks.
A typical competition weekend consists of shopping at least a week before, arriving in the afternoon, getting the meat on the cooker by 10 p.m., and turning in the cuts by noon on Saturday. Like anything, there are rules, such as for cuts and weight of the meat.
“Presentation is key,” Bryant says. He serves his meat in a clam shell, with six pieces of meat on a bed of parsley. Each judge gets his or her own piece of meat.
“We use natural, non-injected meat,” Bryant says.
Bryant and his family have a few more competitions to enter in yet this year. His cooker is currently at Bondurant Auto Body, receiving some minor maintenance work.
Bryant’s best category is the pork shoulder. But when asked what his favorite cut of meat to eat is, he is quick to reply.
“New York strip.”
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