by Mark Rinaldi
What happens when you take five of the most cantankerous and competitive pitmasters in the American barbecue scene and ask them to work together for a greater good? Director John Markus — a sitcom writer and barbecue aficionado in his own right — attempts to answer this question with The Kings of BBQ Barbecue Kuwait, a 2010 documentary detailing an arduous quest to bring a slow-smoked taste of home to more than 5,000 American soldiers stationed in the Middle East. This dream team of American barbecue — comprised of Johnny Trigg, a two-time Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational grand champ; Tuffy "The Professor" Stone, who has made appearances on TLC's BBQ Pitmasters show; Jamie Geer, barbecue pit manufacturer and chef; Nicole Davenport, Chopped Grill Masters 2012 contestant, fourth generation Texas rancher, and the only female pitmaster; and Myron Mixon, a three-time barbecue World Champion — is deployed to Camps Buehring and Arifjan in Kuwait, where they brave snakes, scorpions, camel spiders, and sweltering, 110-degree heat in order to coax 2,300 pounds of brisket and 4,500 chicken quarters into luscious, smoky tenderness. But the desert doesn't present the only difficulties for this crew; they'll need to quell their own internal competitions, deal with unfamiliar conditions, and even compete in an impromptu cooking challenge against a plucky, rib-smoking serviceman, all while maintaining a steady level of good-natured trash talking. Oh, and worst of all — there's no beer in Kuwait.
At turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, The Kings of BBQ Barbecue Kuwait serves as a love letter to the flavors that define what "home" means to those who defend us overseas. It will be shown, rather fittingly, aboard the flight deck of the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, conveniently located at Patriot's Point in Mt. Pleasant as the official kick-off event of the Charleston Food Film Festival. The screening will be followed by an all-you-can-eat barbecue feast prepared by a team of champion pitmasters, all of whom appear in the documentary.