Book Review: The Grill of Victory
Grill of Victory: Hot Competition on the Barbecue Circuit
by William Brohaugh, with a forward by Claud Mann
Emmis Books, Paperback - 288 pages Published: May 2006
It's been a while since I reviewed a book. I really should do this more often as I usually read a book a week. One of my clients told me that he can tell what week it is by what I'm reading. He tells me that I cycle through a cookbook, a computer book, a book on history or a biography, and he tells me it's usually in that order! I never realized I'm so anal. I might upset him this week as I'm reading John Irving's Until I Find You -- a novel. (BTW - I love John Irving and have read all of his novels, unfortunately this isn't one of his best.)
But back to the Grill of Victory. I found this book by accident in Barnes and Noble on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I've never seen it before or since in any NYC bookstore and I'm glad I picked it up when I did.
The Grill of Victory is the story of the Galax, Virginia's "Smoke on the Mountain" Memphis in May Barbecue competition. It's told from the organizer's point of view but is filled with all sorts of tips and tricks for the aspiringing competitor, judge or backyard cook. I've cooked and competed only in Kansas City Barbecue Society events so I was interested to see how the other half lives.
The book takes a lot of ink explaining how teams are organized; what type of grills are used, from home made to the super custom luxury models; the rules of competition and how they're sometimes broken; what judges are looking for; and how this competition fits into the "Memphis in May" barbecue competition circuit.
The Grill of Victory has a bunch of tips and tricks; including ways to spice up store-bought barbecue sauce and winners' secrets to great grilling techniques, rubs, and sauces "that help turn backyard chefs into BBQ champs."
So do I recommend the book? Yes and no. It's a bit too hokey and folksy for my tate. It's filled with a little too much information specific to the organization of the Smoke on the Mountain contest and not enough about contests in general.
The Grill of Victory is an easy read, but I lost interest about 2/3 of the way through. It's a good book for a peak behind the curtain, but I'd only recommend it for people interested in the Memphis in May circuit. If you're looking for the definitive book on the contests, cooks and recipes, check out Mike Mill's Peace, Love and Barbecue instead.