It took four tries, but a Branson competitive barbecue team picked up the title at the 32nd Annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.
Gettin’ Basted won the Grand Championship at the competition in Lynchburg, Tennessee, which returned after a year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team beat out 76 other competitors, including the defending champions.
“Best feeling in the world right now - on top of the world, and we’re so glad that The Jack is back in 2021,” Gettin’ Basted Pitmaster Brad Leighninger said in a press release. “We’ve won at some other prestigious events, but this one has always been on the bucket list. You never know when you’re going to be able to qualify for this event or when you’re going to be able to come back. This is certainly a big one to win!”
Teams qualified for “The Jack” by winning a state competition with at least 25 competitors, a competition of 50 or more teams, or one of the top competitions in the United States: Memphis in May, American Royal Open, or Houston World’s Championship Bar-B-Que. Teams compete in seven categories: pork ribs, pork shoulder/butts, beef brisket, chicken, dessert, cook’s choice, and Jack Daniel’s sauce.
The Gettin’ Basted team of Leighninger, Jason Roberts, and Derrick Melugin have been competing since 2012 when they first entered the Rock N’ Ribs competition in Springfield, MO. They have earned the Reserve Grand Champion title at the 2019 American Royal, first place in the pork category at the 2018 Jack, and were the Kansas City Barbecue Society Team of the Year in 2018 and 2020.
“We’re also the point leader this year,” Leighninger told the Branson Tri-Lakes News.
Leighninger said that he focuses on putting the best product he can put on the place, because in competitions a lot can depend on the judges.
“You’re putting the best food you can do in the box,” Leighninger said. “It’s blind judging and there’s an element of getting the right judges. I control what I can control, so I cook the best food I can and then it’s out of my hands.”
Leighninger said that “Ozark-style barbecue” they used to win the competition is replicated closely in their restaurants.
“We use the same meats that we use in the restaurants,” he said. “When we have a competition, I just go and grab meat from our restaurants to use. So what you get at the restaurant is very close to what we make at competitions.”
The top three spots at the competition all came from the region as second place went to Slap’s BBQ of Kansas City, and third was Razor-Racks BBQ of Prairie Grove, AR.
Gettin’ Basted three locations are in Springfield at 3242 South Stewart Ave., in Nixa at 606 West Mount Vernon St., and in Branson on 76 Country Blvd. next to WonderWorks.