Foodie Events / Restaurants

Barbecue Cook-Off at The Houstonian Steps in to Help Fill a Big Rodeo Void

Much Smaller Event Still Brings Big Flavors

BY // 03.03.21

How sweet it was. The mouthwatering aroma of barbecue wafting across the lawn of the Manor House at The Houstonian where five proven teams joined in the inaugural BBQ on the Bayou Cook-Off. It was a welcome, if diminutive, substitute for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest which was canceled this year due to COVID-19.

Last February before the 2020 rodeo was shut down, 250 teams competed at Reliant Center and thousands upon thousands of giddy urban cowboys and cowgirls surged through the smoke-filled scene.

Things were a bit more sophisticated Sunday at The Houstonian where 100 guests — socially distanced and masked up except while taking photos — roamed the deliciously smokey terrain, sampling their fill of barbecued brisket, chicken and ribs.

“We have all become family. We’ve been doing it so long, and our kids, we call them barbecue babies,” said John Rufini with the Ol’ Army Cookers team. “Generation after generation are doing what we love.”

Lucky the Saturday night wedding party that was invited for a few samplings of the fare as the pit masters stoked their fires and tossed meat on the grills the day before the competition.

Levi Goode of Goode Co. fame served as celebrity judge, anointing the Sharks R Us team with top honors. As might be expected, there was much discussion about the 2022 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo barbecue cook-off and what it might look like. Welcoming the pit masters and barbecue fans were Houstonian Hotel GM Steve Fronterhouse, executive chef Neal Cox. and Seliece Caldwell Womble, campus director of public relations and marketing.

Competing teams Blowin’ Smoke, Smokin’ Since ’79, and the winning Sharks R Us are all official Houston rodeo and regional barbecue competitors making this a special night for guests with a taste for barbecue.

PC Seen: Robin French, Dr. James Flowers, Katie and Dylan Baker, Robert Sakowitz, Lisa and Gary Cohen, Kip Rufini, Natalie Flores, Riley Cox, Amanda Knutson, Lorraine Covey, and Sasha Johnson.

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