Chef Kwivan Miller returns home with weighty hardware
Chef Kwivan Miller has much to be proud of having returned home from the Cattleman’s Caribbean BBQ Competition, with weighty hardware – three gold medals, two silver medals and a Grand Reserve Champion plaque.
Miller received gold medals in the pork chop, seafood (grilled BBQ salmon) and the best wings categories. He picked up a silver medal in the steak division, and was second overall out of 41 teams.
“I was much more pleased with my performance this go-around, even though I know I can do much better. There was a lot of room for improvements still, but my first time around, and on an international stage, I feel satisfied with my performance,” said Miller who recently returned home from Puerto Rico.
He competed in the seafood, pork chop, pork butt, beef brisket, BBQ ribs, BBQ wings, steak, BBQ sauce and best booth divisions. And he said he found the brisket the trickiest of divisions because he says there is no shortcut in brisket preparation and the meat needs 10 hours to get tender.
“I had flavor and moisture, but the texture I still want to work on and improve to get a higher score for texture. Everything else I was pleased with.”
The chef who prides himself on his BBQ sauce, which he said is a combination of seven ingredients — fresh herbs and a little Asian-fusion to bottled Cattleman’s Sauce – was surprised it didn’t medal in Puerto Rico because he was pleased with the flavor profile he was able to produce.
“Even though my sauce did not win a medal, I was pleased with the crowd feedback for my sauce. In my opinion, I thought I was the crowd favorite. I could be wrong, but I thought we were the crowd favorite because everyone came to taste our sauce and they started buying it. It got to the point where I had patrons coming with bottles of water, dumping the water, so they could have a vessel to put sauce in and they paid for it,” he said.
Miller earned the right to compete at the Puerto Rican competition by virtue of his win at the Thompson Trading Co. and Cattlemen’s BBQ Sauce 1st Cattlemen’s Smokin’ Hot BBQ Competition in April.
He said Puerto Rico was definitely a challenge compared to the local competition.
He plans to return to both. He wants to compete at home to defend his title to earn a return spot to Puerto Rico as he’s now caught the grilling competition bug.
As a result of his performance, Miller and his team (girlfriend Levanda Stubbs, his brothers Llewlyn Miller and Brandon Miller and sister-in-law Nikra Miller) have been invited to participate in the 2013 World Barbecue Championship, November 7-13 in Las Vegas for which the prize purse is $50,000.
It’s a competition he does not intend to skip as it is where the greatest competition barbecue teams, cooks and chefs come together to settle the score and name the World Barbecue champion. It’s a competition that will start as a host of the absolute best championship BBQ pit-masters from across sanctioning bodies, ending up with just one winner who will be declared the champion.
He plans to enter as many categories as he is allowed to in Las Vegas.
With just three months to prepare, Miller plans to practice pretty much on a weekly basis.
“It’s becoming more serious for me,” he said. “It’s past the point of doing it for fun for me now because I’m representing not only myself, but my family and my country. I plan on really tightening up every loose screw and moving forward and trying to win more medals and even the overall,” he said.
Miller was also impressed with the amount of connections he was able to make in Puerto Rico.
“Even if I didn’t win any medals, just the rich networking experience I got was one that I will keep for the rest of my life,” he said.
In order to travel with his team to compete in Puerto Rico, Miller was assisted by his family and friends because his miscellaneous expenses really added up, outside the two nights accommodation, grill, charcoal and entrance fee and some meats that came with his win into the competition. He had to purchase whatever else he needed to compete with, including airfare to get to Puerto Rico. He knows he will have to raise even more funds to compete in Las Vegas and plans to have at least two BBQ fundraisers to assist him with defraying the cost of taking his team to compete.