Pro Cooking Competition
has been dominating the grill
return to Madison
in hopes of notching third victory
Helen E. McKinney
(August 2011) Chad Hayden knows what it takes
to win a barbecue competition. After participating in the Madison Ribberfest
for eight consecutive years, hes gotten the hang of things and
is right where he wants to be.
There are only a few good teams out there, said Hayden,
40. Most of the good teams are husband and wife. Hayden
refers to his wife, Christine, 40, as the brains of it.
KCBS Contest Facts
teams compete in four meat categories (chicken, pork ribs, pork,
beef brisket) and three auxiliary categories (dessert, anything
but, sauce). Entry fee is $250 per team.
It takes 77 KCBS-certified judges and table captains to
determine the winners in each category, plus an overall Grand
Champion and Reserve Grand Champion (second place). The Grand
Champion earns a trip to the KCBS American Royal in Kansas City.
The team also is entered into a drawing of eight other Indiana
KCBS competition winners to determine a berth in the Jack Daniels
Barbeque Championship in Lynchburg, Tenn.
The Grand Champion earns $2,500; Reserve Grand Champion
collects $1,500. Both receive wooden cutting board trophies. The
top 10 places in each meat category also receive cash awards,
with the category winners receiving wooden cutting board trophies.
This years pork category winner at Ribberfest will
be one of only 10 such winners nationwide to be invited to the
Butt to Butt pork competition in Jefferson City, Mo.,
in April 2012.
The late Jeff Garrett founded Ribberfest in 2002 and a
spirit award in his honor is voted on by the teams and presented
each year at the awards ceremony.
KCBS co-founder Carolyn Wells will serve as one of three
KCBS reps this year at Madison Ribberfest. The organization was
founded in 1985.
The couple won their first Madison Ribberfest professional
cooking contest in 2004 and captured the Grand Champion trophy again
last year. Hayden began competing professionally in 2004 but his interest
in barbecuing was piqued in 1997 when he visited the Memphis in May
competition in Tennessee with friends.
I loved it and thought Id get into it, he said after
experiencing one of the biggest competitions out there. The husband-and-wife
team lives in Taylorsville, Ky., and competes under the team name Moonswiners.
The Madison Ribberfest was their first ever competition. It is conducted
and sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, and winning it brings
a lot of notoriety to the top team.
After winning the 2007 Madison Ribberfest, the Haydens were entered
into a drawing for the Jack Daniels World Champion-ship Invitational
Barbeque located at the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn.
Luck was on their side and they won that competition as well, placing
first in the chicken category and second in ribs.
The same year, a few weeks before the Madison Ribberfest, Hayden said
he was not doing too well with his barbecue sauce. But he pulled out
of his slump and developed a sauce that helped me win. The
sauce was so good that Hayden sold it to T.G.I. Fridays restaurant
The competition gets tougher and tougher each year, he said.
He credits this to the media. Barbecue has kind of exploded from
all of the attention in the media.
Hayden admitted that he has to practice a heck of a lot to be
a step above the competition. Out of approximately 60 entries
in last years Madison Ribberfest, he said there were close to
20 that had the potential to win.
Hayden and his wife have traveled to competitions across Kentucky, Ohio,
Indiana, Tennessee and Illinois. Even though the Madison Ribberfest
is very similar to other competitions, Hayden compares it to a homecoming
game for me.
Originally from Louisville, Hayden said the Madison Ribberfest holds
a lot of sentimental value for him, since it was his first competition.
Its very well run. Madison is a beautiful place.
and Christine Hayden of Elk Creek,
Ky., have become the team to beat
on the pro barbecue cooking circuit.
Last years Reserve Grand Champion, Fred Larson,
said Its the best organized event we go to every year. Madison
has been doing this a long time, and Madison does it right.
Larson and his wife, Dianna, of Mooresville, Ind., started their own
team, Pirates of the Grill. They usually attend 10 competitions a year,
which is hard to do when both have full-time jobs.
You have to have a lot of skill; theres a lot of good cooking
teams out there, said Larson, 50. You have to be on your
Due to the level of competition, the caliber of teams is top notch.
Its the premier Indiana event.
Having competed in the Madison Ribberfest for six years, It can
open the right doors for you if you win it, he said.
He has been barbecuing for the last 10 years and became interested after
taking a class and sitting next to Gary Hembrough, who ran a team known
as Coachs Cooking Team. Larson said the Madison Ribberfest is
an event the whole family can enjoy.
This is the only barbecue competition in which his daughter, now 23,
takes part. She wont cook anywhere else, but shell
go to Madison. Like many others, she enjoys the social aspect
that accompanies the event.
Back to 2011 Ribberfest Articles.