Barbecue enthusiasts take heed: Famous Dave’s of America (FDA) has announced their effort to find the best barbecue teams in the country. Their new partnership with the World Food Championships (WFC) will answer once and for all who wears the crown of best pitmaster in the country.

The Famous Dave’s All-Star BBQ Series, which kicks off this May in Las Vegas, will feature both celebrity and local pitmasters facing off in a multi-category barbecue challenge at Famous Dave’s restaurants throughout the country. Winning teams at the restaurant level will then qualify to advance into the Famous Dave’s All-Star BBQ Championship, hosted by WFC and taking place during its 11th annual tournament in Dallas, Texas this fall.

The All-Star BBQ Series will include 15 regional events across the nation, starting in May and ending in late August. Each contest will feature six barbecue teams, a $5,000 prize purse and two golden tickets for the grand champion. Contestants will be required to create at least three entries, which must include a chicken and pork ribs offering, and then a special wild card dish. Each division will have a winner, while overall points from all categories will determine the grand prize victors of the golden tickets. There will be no entry fees for the teams, which will have to register at in their respective region. The reserve grand champion will advance to the WFC super event in November.

The partnership effort with WFC marks the first strategic gateway program for WFC’s barbecue category, with over $500,000 awarded during this year’s Tournament of Food Champs, which encompasses twelve categories of food and cocktails.

“This is an exciting moment for Famous Dave’s of America,” said Dave Anderson, Founder of Famous Dave’s. “BBQ is really America’s food. Competition barbecue has always been an important part of our legacy and our brand, with Famous Dave Anderson leading the way from our very beginning in 1994. Throughout our nearly 30-year history, we’ve found that competitions lead to innovation for our industry.”  

Anderson went on to say, “Giving local pitmasters the opportunity to share a family BBQ recipe and the craft they’ve handed down for generations is what BBQ is all about and what makes it interesting. That’s why this is such a passion project of mine. Every community has local legends who are known in the community, love what they do and we want to celebrate their uniqueness and skill.” 

All events are free and open to the public. The first 200 attendees at each event will receive free BBQ wings, and all eligible attendees can enter to win a Gateway Drum Smoker. Famous Dave’s locations that will be hosting an event as part of the series include the following: 

  • Vegas Blue Diamond, Las Vegas, NV (May 13)
  • El Paso, TX (June 3)
  • Hermitage/Nashville, TN (June 10)
  • Long Beach, CA (June 17)
  • Tukwila, WA (June 24)
  • Sioux City, Iowa (July 1)
  • Addison, IL (July 8)
  • Westland, MI (July 15)
  • Waldorf, MD (July 22)
  • Billings, MT (July 29)
  • Colorado Springs, CO (August 5)
  • San Jose, CA (August 12)
  • Rancho Cucamonga, CA (August 19)
  • Minnetonka, MN (August 19)
  • Taylor, MI (August 26)

Judging each event will be a group of local celebrities, Famous Dave’s franchise owners and occasionally even Famous Dave Anderson himself, who started the franchise in Hayward, Wisconsin. Their expert opinions will be critical to choosing the winners, as several celebrity barbecue champions have already signed up to participate, including:

  • Memphis-based Willingham’s World Champion BBQ
  • Scottsdale-based Loot N Booty BBQ
  • South Carolina-based Ironhead BBQ
  • Texas-based Texas Revolution BBQ

“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the World Food Championships and hope to motivate great barbecue teams throughout the country,” says Anderson. “We expect to see a lot of innovative ideas that can possibly be integrated into our menu as we look to bring new and exciting culinary options to our guests.” 

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