Over 60 different Southern California-based champion grill masters and BBQ teams will be competing on Saturday at The Queen Mary’s fourth annual West Coast BBQ Classic (WCBC) for the coveted title of West Coast’s "BEST BBQ" and $10,500 in cash prizes.
Mike Wheeler, founder of Los Angeles-based Jet Coatings Monkey Style, the defending champs from last year’s competition, said it “feels fantastic” to be returning, but “a little nerve-wracking, as well.”
Wheeler said he took a class during the offseason this year with Loot N’ Booty, the 35th Annual American Royal World Series of Barbecue Reserve Champion, and he picked up a few new tips and techniques he will be using this weekend.
“The overall competition in BBQ has increased so much that if you’re not changing right now, you’re going to get left behind,” he said.
The WCBC welcomes both barbecue masters and amateur grill enthusiasts to participate. The competition is California state certified and KCBS-Sanctioned and will highlight various grill styles such as slow-cooked Texan and southern Memphis-style barbecue.
“The West Coast BBQ Classic has become one of our signature events and truly showcases the best BBQ in the region,” commented Steve Sheldon, The Queen Mary’s Director of Entertainment Events, in a statement. “It’s great to see some of the BBQ stars return to our competition year after year and also have the opportunity to try some amazing amateur grillers’ meats before they become champions.”
Attendees will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite BBQ team to win the People’s Choice Award for Best BBQ. Local competitors trying their hand at the grill this year will include Costa Mesa’s Twisted Brisket, Diamond Bar’s Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ, Riverside’s The Rib Doctor, Vista’s South Coast BBQ, Menifee’s Rooftop BBQ and Long Beach’s own Triple T’s.
Ty Wagner, founder and owner of Triple T’s Tri-Tip Rub, is competing for the People’s Choice Award and looking forward to introducing foodies in his hometown to the barbecue staple he’s been perfecting for the last five years.
He said it was received well at last year’s competition. This year, he ultimately hopes to gain enough exposure to put the product into stores. Wagner said that at other events, his tent was placed away from the main competitions or didn’t have a People’s Choice Award.
“The Long Beach competition, from what I saw last year, there's no bad spots, it's all kind of equal,” he said. “So I want to see how we do when we're placed fairly next to the other teams. That's what I'm looking forward to, that and having it in my own hometown, too.”
As far as his favorite meat to barbecue, the obvious answer was tri-tip.
“I make the best tri-tip you've ever had in your life,” he said.
BBQ tastings for $2 each, live music from River Road and Pawnshop Kings, backyard games, the BBQ merchant market and an awards ceremony for the victors will offer barbecue fanatics and foodies plenty to drool over. Children are invited to take part in Kids Country, featuring inflatables, children’s activities and more.
Sheldon said WCBC has grown from attracting 30 competitors and about 3,000 attendees in its first year to doubling the number of competitors as well as attendees for last year’s event. This year he expects the turnout to be even bigger.
As far as having the only waterfront events park in Southern California, Sheldon said, “We know Long Beach loves its food events and I think its definitely found a niche.”
“The eating competition really stood out to me," he said. "I happened to be on the stage last year for the cobbler eating competition and the group that we had just was a really unique dynamic. And the guy who ended up winning had a beard and I just remember cobbler streaming down his beard, all over his face, it was hilarious.”
The West Coast BBQ Classic will take place from 11:00AM to 6:00PM on Saturday, May 9. General admission tickets are available in advance online starting at $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 4-11. VIP tickets are available beginning at $30 online and include one-hour early access (10:00AM) to the festival. All event tickets include access to the majestic Queen Mary ship. Event parking is $13.
For more information, to purchase tickets and to get involved in the 4th annual West Coast BBQ Classic click here.
Photos courtesy of the Queen Mary.