GULFPORT -- This weekend's 'Que at the View festival is different from most barbecue competitions on the Coast. It is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and its judges are trained and certified to choose the best chicken, ribs and brisket.
The third annual festival will be on the grounds of Island View Casino on U.S. 90 in Gulfport on Friday and Saturday. From 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, barbecue lovers can watch 44 teams from eight states start cooking.
On Saturday, those teams will compete for $15,000 cash in four categories: pork ribs, chicken, pork roast and brisket. The judges will be looking for appearance, taste and texture.
Spectators also get a taste and a vote. For $10, sample the smoked pork entries in the 'Que at the View Butch Oustalet People's Choice Award from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.
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A buffet of barbecue and sides will be available for $15 along with boiled crawfish and craft beers. Music is part of the festival from noon to 5 p.m.
It isn't often a financial reporting manager has the chance to launch a barbecue competition, but Jesse Dupree at Island View Casino is a certified judge and passionate about barbecue.
When Dupree started getting involved in the barbecue network, Ed Layton, vice president of non-gaming operations at Island View, asked what it would take to bring a KCBS-sanctioned event to the casino.
"A whole lot of work," he answered, adding, "It's turned into quite an event. I'm glad to be involved."
Dupree started cooking in the events and then attended class and became a certified judge.
"I just wanted to do like every other barbecue team and find out what went into the decision," he said.
About 24 people attended a judges' class at Island View on Thursday, some of them chefs. While Carole Bigler was teaching the class, her husband, Randy, was in the kitchen preparing to illustrate what the new judges should look for when they judge a box of barbecue.
The two are from Huntsville, Ala., but are on the road about 45 weekends to barbecue competitions across the country and internationally as instructors and judges.
"The taste will be different" depending on where they go, Randy Bigler said. In the South, the barbecue is sweeter. In the Carolinas, the chefs use mustard or vinegar. Dry rubs are popular in the north and in Texas it's all about the spice.
What is the same is the judging. All entries are judged blind, using numbers rather than names.
"We're looking for somebody who will judge fairly, score consistently from contest to contest," Carole Bigler said.
They will continue to need more judges. Carole Bigler said they judge other events such as oyster, crawfish and lobster cook-offs and KCBS is sanctioning the first hamburger contest Sept. 10 at Island View called Burger Battle at the View, with $10,000 in prize money.