A trio of passionate pitmasters from Mount Maunganui are taking their smokin' backyard barbecue talents to the Kiwi big leagues.
Smokey Mount Beachside BBQ are a recently formed competitive barbecuing (yes, that's a thing) team consisting of a former heavy metal singer-turned-banker, an environmental scientist and a respected Tauranga chef.
Shane Southby, the banker, said he and scientist Dion Young had been friends for years and the pair had a long-standing family barbecue rivalry.
They met Andrew Targett a few years ago when he was executive chef of the award-winning Elizabeth Cafe and Larder.
They found a shared love of meticulously prepared barbecues: big fat-marbled cuts, rubbed with secret spice combinations, injected with flavour, barrel-smoked, slow-cooked over charcoal and served with a homemade sauce - with maybe a bit of greenery.
"As soon as we all sit down it's all we talk about it. Our wives just roll their eyes," Southby said.
Your dad's steak and split sausies this is not. A short cook might take four or five hours, a long one overnight and part of a day.
"You can easily go through a seven-kilo bag of charcoal just for one cook."
Southby said they had been barbecuing for years but only discovered the competitive community last year.
They will compete together for the first time at the end of February, hauling their equipment to Auckland for Meatstock: a festival of music and barbecue billed as "the carnival for carnivores".
The two-day barbecue war over February 24 and 25 will see them test their mettle against 50 teams from New Zealand and Australia.
Southby said they had been "hard out practising" since they decided to enter, trying new flavours and working to develop creative recipes that would set their entries apart.
They were looking for ways to integrate Bay of Plenty flavours, such as kiwifruit.
Southby said Mike Jeffries, who started his The Big Smoke BBQ Co catering company in the Mount in 2010 and has competed internationally, had been a great mentor to them.
Jeffries - who admitted to being known as one of New Zealand's "granddads of barbecue" - said Meatstock was the biggest event on the country's growing competitive circuit.
He said the Mount team had a lot of passion and he reckoned they would learn a lot as first-timers.
"I hope they do well."