Barbecue team "The Smoking Hills" named 2015 World Food Champions
KISSIMMEE, Fla., (Nov. 10, 2015) – A longtime competition barbecue team from Overland Park, Kansas earned $100,000 Tuesday, beating more than 1,100 competitive chefs, home cooks and food sport enthusiasts in a week-long battle for the World Food Championships title in central Florida.
Cheryl and Loren Hill, three-time qualifiers for the World Food Championships, also took home an additional $10,000 for winning the Barbeque qualifying category, as did the eight other finalists who won their qualifying category. More than $350,000 in cash and prizes was awarded through 38 competition rounds, making it one of the largest and richest food sport events in the world.
"This is so surreal. Normally I'd be a bawling mess but it hasn't sunk in," said Cheryl Hill, of "The Smoking Hills", who has traveled the country with her husband on the Kansas City Barbeque Society competition circuit since 2007. They have won 16 barbecue championships, including the prestigious 2015 American Royal Invitational in Kansas City, Mo., last month.
"Everyone here says the minivan we travel to competitions in needs to be driven into the lake right there. It has 200,000 miles," Loren Hill said.
The World Food Championships competition drew thousands of foodies and Food Sport enthusiasts to Central Florida, elevating hotel bookings, restaurant spending and other community revenue metrics that come with such signature events.
The bulk of WFC's food fights occurred in Kenmore Kitchen Arena, the largest outdoor kitchen in the world, measuring a full city block at 7,800-square feet. The space featured $250,000 worth of Kenmore branded stoves, cooktops, countertops and cookware – enough for 50 chefs to cook simultaneously. An additional $100,000 worth of professional grills from Bull Outdoor Products afforded open-flame grilling.
The fourth annual event drew champions from the biggest and best food competitions around the world into a single high-stakes culinary showdown. Cooking teams battled in nine classic categories to reward nine Food Sport champions, who advanced to WFC's 2015 Final Table (in final order of their finish):
- World Barbecue Champion and overall World Food Champion – Loren Hill, Overland Park, Kansas
- World Bacon Champion – Stephen Coe, Plymouth, Massachusetts.
- World Burger Champion – Rusty Johnson, Port Moody, British Columbia
- World Dessert Champion – Lynn Smith, Acworth, Georgia
- World Recipe Champion – Alethia Shih, San Jose, California.
- World Pasta Champion – Suzanne Clark, Phoenix, Arizona
- World Seafood Champion – Cindy Taffel, Pompano Beach, Fla.
- World Sandwich Champion – Lori Rukstales, Roberts, Wisconsin
- World Chili Champion – Wayne Shymko, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Tuesday's competitors were scored with WFC's unique EAT Methodology, which awards points for the Execution of a recipe, the Appearance of the presentation plate and the all-important aspect of Taste. A perfect score is 100. The scoring system levels the judging field so that dishes from different categories can be evaluated against one another, unique in the competitive Food Sport arena.
"This challenge is not for the faint of heart. It requires ambition, precision, imagination, and extreme determination – these are the ingredients of a World Food Champion," said Mike McCloud, CEO of World Food Championships.
"As we've seen from past years, World Food Championships is a game changer and we're expecting more great things from each competitor as their careers continue to unfold," he noted.
Judges for the Final Table included: Chef Justin Timineri (C.E.C.), Florida's executive chef and Culinary Ambassador; Chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant and Wine Bar in Orlando, Emily Ellyn of Food Network fame; Diva Q, Danielle Bennett, the most decorated female in the competitive BBQ world; and Kari Karch, World Food Championships' co-host and Kenmore brand spokesperson.
About the World Food Championships
The World Food Championships (www.worldfoodchampionships.com) features hundreds of competitors seeking food fame and fortune in Kissimmee, Fla. for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Following a tournament-style format across multiple iconic food categories, the WFC culminates with a Final Table faceoff where category champions brave potential elimination in front of a live audience and a discerning panel of culinary judges. The World Food Championships is owned and produced by Nashville-based MMA Creative.
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