Burnet High School is making its mark in the high school barbecue competition world with three teams qualifying for the state cook-off later in April.
The Bulldog FFA BBQ, The Iron Dawgs, and Burnet FFA BBQ all earned a place at the state contest March 27 at the regional cook-off in Muenster. Bulldog FFA BBQ claimed Grand Champion with The Iron Dawgs coming in third, followed by Burnet FFA BBQ. The Smokin’ Hornets of Muenster High School were Reserve Champion.
The Texas High School State Barbecue Championship is April 23-24 at the John L. Kuykendall Arena and Events Center in Llano.
“It was a great day for the Burnet High School barbecue teams,” said Mike Erickson, The Iron Dawgs sponsor and BHS culinary arts teacher. “It wasn’t easy. We had several kids who competed in a FFA contest in San Angelo the day before, and they drove over to compete (in Muenster).”
The Burnet students rolled out of bed at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, March 27, in Muenster to get their pit fires going at 5 p.m. for the cook-off.
“People think barbecuing is easy, but there’s a lot that goes into it — a lot of work,” Erickson said. “It takes time and practice to really get good at it. Sometimes. it means getting up early in the morning.”
Successful high school teams don’t just focus on brisket. Teams are judged on five entries: brisket, chicken, ribs, beans, and dessert. Everything requires different techniques and skills to really bring out the flavors and tastes to impress the judges.
One of the things Erickson and other high school barbecue advocates love about this type of contest is that any student can excel at it if they are willing to commit and put in the work.
“Cooking doesn’t care how tall you are or how fast you can run,” Erickson said. “Cooking is very democratic. Anybody can get good at it, but they have to put the work in. It does take work — hard work.”
Erickson said barbecue competitions help students develop a plethora of skills that will transfer into other areas of their lives.
“They learn leadership. They learn teamwork. They learn time management. They learn stress management,” he said. “They learn to cook which is a life skill, and it’s something they can use also to help their community.”
He pointed to the number of barbecue teams and groups who respond to disasters or emergencies to feed first responders and others.
“It’s also fun, which is something kids need,” Erickson added. “Barbecuing is one of these things where you get outside, away from screens. It’s like tailgating with your friends, so there’s this great social aspect of it.
“I’ve seen it change kids lives,” he added about barbecue and barbecue cook-offs. “It’s not just about the cooking. It’s about everything they learn, and the experience.”
The BHS barbecue teams are:
- Bulldog FFA BBQ — Greyson Barnett, Hayden Henry, Adrian Lopez, and Kori Gililland
- The Iron Dawgs — Bridget Bristow, Will Rundzeher, Nicholai Rowland, and Matthew Thrane
- Burnet FFA BBQ — Tyler Patterson, Kendrick Castillo, Jordon Erickson, and Braelynn Summers