Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest: What it takes to become a grill master

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s one of the biggest grilling competitions in the world. The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest kicks off next week at the Memphis Fairgrounds.

Smokey sweet heat will soon be wafting over the fairgrounds as participants from all over the country descend to barbeque with the best of the best.

Chillin’ and Grillin’: MIM World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest set to kick off

FOX13 wanted to talk to someone with serious grilling skills, someone who’s competed for years, and someone who loves grilling so much that he built his own kitchen.”

Heath Riles has won 74 grand championships across the country and has competed in Memphis in May for more than 15 years. It’s one of the only titles that has eluded him.

Riles told FOX13′s Darcy Thomas that his passion for barbeque started as fun but quickly turned into a full-time venture.

Riles shared a few of his secrets with Darcy. ”This rib has got a membrane on it right here, right. You want to get that membrane off so you can penetrate the rub into the meat. You can take a paper towel and get it off, but I just go in there with my hands and just get in it, pull it up, and that’s how you skin a slab of ribs right there.”

He said once you lay down a brine, then comes the seasoning, and it must be a liberal amount. He said there’s no pleasin’ without good seasonin’.

Once the ribs are on the grill, he makes sure there’s a hint of smoke. ”A kiss of smoke, just a kiss of smoke, just a little.”

Riles said he is constantly tweaking his recipes to make sure when a judge bites down, it’s the best bite ever.

“With the right amount of smoke and the right amount of seasoning and when your sauce is right, all of those flavors come together for an explosion in your mouth,” he said.

We wanted to know if Riles was willing to tell us what it takes to create a winning slab.

“I can tell you the secret: there’s about a 15-minute window of ruining a rib or making it perfect. Everybody wants fall-off-the-bone ribs when really and truly that’s not how a barbeque judge wants it,” he said. “It’s that flavor explosion they’re looking for.”

We want to wish Heath Riles and the rest of the contestants good luck because soon it will be time to throw down on the cue!

The four-day competition runs May 11 - 14.

All ages are welcome and children under 8 do not need a ticket.