It Will be a Sizzler! Crews Vie for the Title of ‘Master of the Grill Tauranga’

Battle of the BBQ organiser, Natasha Thomas

Yabba Dabba Q, Smokeback Mountain and Backyard Banditos are just three of the teams coming to dazzle and sizzle this weekend, competing in the inaugural Battle of the BBQs Tauranga.

The barbecue festival which is being held at Mount Maunganui College this weekend has attracted more than 20 teams from around New Zealand.

Event organiser Natasha Thomas, who was part of the duo that put on the successful Tauranga Food Wine and Music Festival in 2019, says she drew on her passion for entertaining and cooking to create Battle of the BBQs.

“We’ve modelled this event on Meatstock and will have the best teams from around New Zealand competing in six categories,” said Thomas.

“Each category will have a first, second and third prize, as well as a prize for the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion.”

The six competition categories are chicken, pork ribs, lamb, pork, beef and dessert, and teams can include up to four people.

The teams have signed up to battle it out over the weekend for a share of cash and prizes to the value of $10,000 and the title of ‘Master of the Grill Tauranga’.

“Many of the teams compete all around New Zealand. Our event is NZ Barbecue Association affiliated and competitors get points from competing in three competitions throughout the year.”

The two days of cooking will be a crowd-pleaser as the barbecue pitmasters cook anything from ribs to their signature dish, in their efforts to please high calibre chefs like Michelin-star chef Matt Lambert who has returned from New York to Auckland. Along with Lambert, a panel of 20 judges made up of representatives from the New Zealand Barbecue Alliance, professional chefs and barbecue enthusiasts will judge each dish, with the meat served to them in anonymous white boxes.

“We are catering for everyone, with entertainment galore from local and national musicians, plus heaps of great family-friendly entertainment for the whole family,” noted Thomas, adding that Battle of the BBQs will have a positive impact on hospitality and tourism in the local area – after what has been a tough year for businesses affected by COVID.

“We look forward to welcoming Bay of Plenty locals, and people from further afield to this unique event!”