It was a far cry from your average Kiwi barbecue when over 20 teams from around New Zealand went head-to-head at the Battle of the BBQs competition in Mount Maunganui.
"It was an amazing community event to bring to Tauranga," organiser Natasha Thomas said.
"You've got teams from Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Hamilton, obviously Auckland and there's even teams travelling from Whangaparaoa."
Teams competed in a two-day cook-off, smoking everything from ribs to brisket – with a $10,000 prize pool at stake. Smoking meat at this level is so competitive there's a sanctioning body, the NZ Barbecue Alliance.
"The Australasian BBQ Alliance has been around since 2014," said head judge Carl Grainger. "We had our first BBQ competition in New Zealand in 2017 – Meat Stock. The following year we established the New Zealand BBQ Alliance which is still part of the Australasian BBQ Alliance but we run events in our own right as well."
If you've ever wondered what it takes to be a BBQ judge, there's only one requirement – you must be a carnivore.
"Any everyday person can be a BBQ judge and that's what we want," Grainger said.
"We'll go through a course with them and we run tables of six. We like to have a good range of different palettes and different opinions as well.
"The things the judges are looking for is a good clean bite. Biting into a piece of chicken and leaving your bite mark, when you pull away the skin doesn't come away with it as well."
There's a growing appetite for "low and slow" cooking in New Zealand.
"A lot of people are used to the Weber kettle barbecue and they've moved from their gas barbecues into more charcoal-based grilling. You get a different flavour of the meats that are coming through and then you see it in the market as well.
"The range of wood, charcoal barbecues you can choose, and all the accessories ... four years ago you'd never see that sort of stuff in those stores."
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