Kids BBQ Championship: Top Moments from the Competition

Relive the ups and downs of this pintsize barbecue competition, and find out which kids were outgrilled and which ones grilled their best for a chance to win $20,000.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Jessica Brooks

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Photo By: Scott Everett White

Bringing the Islands to the Boardwalk

"I go to Hawaii a lot and I want to put Hawaiian flavors into this dish," says Raegan as she prepares a pineapple-topped sausage sandwich for the beach boardwalk challenge. Although Eddie likes her sauce, he recommends that she cook it first. Raegan has never done that before, but she's glad for the advice. "They really come together," Eddie says of her flavors.

The Search for the Right Bread

"I don't like hot dog buns, so how about I use a baguette," says Gill. He splits the loaves and fills them with grilled peppers, onions and bacon. Guest judges Shannon Ambrosio likes Gill's herb sauce, and Eddie and Damaris wishes there was even more of it. But the judges agree Gill's bread-to-meat ratio was off, and Gill is eliminated.

Skewers Matter


"I'm going to put everything on skewers," says Daniel while planning his dish for the grilled clambake challenge. Right away he gets chorizo skewered and on the grill, but when he notices his grill is smoking, he sees that the wooden skewers have burned away. So, he starts over using metal skewers. The judges love Daniel's za'atar seasoning across the board. But Damaris dings Daniel for not peeling his shrimp.

Stuck in the Mud

"I'm going to use crawfish because I'm from the South," says Kelsey, going for a Southern-style clambake. She boils the shellfish first before blanching them and grilling them. Eddie hopes she seasoned the boiling water heavily. Unfortunately, that's not the case as Damaris finds the crawfish taste muddy. But Kelsey's corn, clams and sausages get high praise.

Going Overboard with Seafood

"I'm going to do four shellfish because I think it's going to impress the judges," says Raegan as she's making her New England clambake. Damaris worries Raegan may have too much going on, and Raegan's grill is filled to the max. In her hurry, she sees her scallops look overcooked, but the judges find them perfectly done. "I'm getting the best of the ocean," Damaris says of the dish. The judges reveal Raegan has won. "I can't believe it," she says.

Going at It All on Her Own

"When my dad comes out, it's a little distracting," says Ava, who was already in a zone, cooking her grilled ham steaks for a take on eggs Benedict. But since Ava's dad is available for 10 minutes of help, she has him poach eggs. "I think I just didn't need him," says Ava, when Damaris asks what he helped with. The judges love her presentation but Eddie wishes it had some acidity.

When Father Doesn't Know Best

"I decided it would be cool to incorporate my vegetable with the egg," says Gabi, frying her eggs inside bell pepper slices. But she worries when her dad starts plating the eggs. "Is that done," she asks him. "I don't want to get sent home for a raw egg," she says. Eddie loves her "hearty breakfast," but Damaris finds the egg undercooked and bell pepper too raw.

Not-So Fruit Forward

"I am so focused on the sauce because it is the main flavor," says Stevie, who's working with grapefruit, which he plans to use in his Béarnaise sauce to top his steaks. "The grapefruit flavor has to come through," he says, but without trying the sauce himself, he's not sure of it. Unfortunately, Stevie's steak is a bit undercooked. And Damaris doesn't taste the grapefruit in the sauce. Stevie's sent home.

Surf and Turf Soup Rendition

"I'm going to put my lobster in two places," says Ava, who's cooking rib eye, grilled lobster and lobster mac and cheese for the surf and turf challenge. But when Eddie reminds her to check on the lobster, she finds them overcooked. And on top of that her mac and cheese comes out watery. "I will be doomed," she worries. The judges praise Ava's steak, but guest judge Roger Mooking calls her mac and cheese soupy.

Staking It All on Steak

"My mushrooms are looking kind of soggy," says Josh, who's grilling portobellos for a side dish. He hopes they'll dry out on the grill more. But he has something even more important to worry about: "With two minutes left I realize I didn't check my meat temperature," he says. Luckily, when Eddie cuts into the steak, he finds it perfect. "I would not change one thing," says Eddie. Despite the soggy mushrooms, Josh wins the challenge. "It feels 10 times better than anything that's ever happened," he says.

Surprise Spillage

"This is a nightmare," says Kobe, when he realizes his blender is leaking all the liquid for his dipping sauce. "I lost about half the sauce on the ground," he says, but he has no choice but to make it work for his chicken tenders. "Your dipping sauce is like the bomb," Eddie tells Kobe. His only negative was the pita chip coating on his chicken tenders failed to adhere.

Frenzied Focus

"I am really feeling the stress right now," says Ella, who thinks she just can't pick up the pace in time. Unfortunately, with the clock counting down, she's still trying to remove the tendons from her chicken tenders. Eddie stops by to give her a pep talk. She manages to cook three tenders, which the judges find underseasoned. Ella's sent home after the first round.

Quick Correction

"I just did that wrong," exclaims Tamyra as she puts her salmon sliders onto an unoiled grill right after Damaris advised her not to because they'll stick. Tamyra gets a skillet hot, and starts new salmon sliders that she finishes with a peach glaze. Damaris praises the slider but wants some more texture. "You actually glazed the top of the bun," Eddie says, pleased with Tamyra's trick to add more flavor.

Last-Minute Marvel

Ben worries he doesn't have enough time for his second slider after the 15-minute time mark is called. His plan was to make spam cakes. "I'm afraid you do not have time for that," Damaris warns him after she stops by. So, she suggests he grill the canned ham in planks to save on time. Guest judge Michael Mixon calls Ben's Hawaiian sliders "off the chain" and "the best thing on the plate."

Frying Up a New Invention

"Making these coleslaw fries is a big risk," says Kobe, who can't use potatoes to make fries for the challenge. But the judges worry the moisture from the cabbage will prevent it from frying. "I may be in for a new experience," Damaris says hesitantly. Eddie and the judges are more than impressed with the coleslaw fries, but they don't care for the dipping sauce. The judges reveal Kobe has won. "It's like the best thing in my life," he says.

Undeterred by Fire

"We got a little fire going on over there," says Eddie when he sees Caselin lift his grill to reveal his Iberico pork belly is engulfed in flames because of its high fat content. "I'm not going to have enough time to redo this," says Caselin, but then he thinks, "I have to." The judges praise him for bouncing back, but Damaris points out his biscuits got burnt on the bottom.

Time Mismanagement

"It's a pain in the butt," says Hailey of having to shred vegetables for her slaw. With just minutes left, she realizes she's forgotten to cook biscuits for the challenge. "It's not going the way I wanted it to go," she says, upset with herself. "I would have loved to have seen that biscuit," Eddie tells her, but Damaris praises how well the slaw cuts through the richness of Hailey's pork belly. But Hailey's sent home.

Cut Out for Greatness

"Did you really cut yourself twice?"Caselin asks Kody, who already cut his finger in the first round. Now Kody's nicked the same hand again while chopping mushrooms for stuffing his Bison tomhawk steak for the second cooking challenge. "You have to keep going," Kody tells himself, determined as ever. "I was a little bit hesitant," says Eddie of the mushroom and blue cheese stuffing, but he admits he likes how it turned out.

Spud Warning

"You have got to start your potatoes," Damaris reminds Caselin after she stops by his station to check on his progress. Caselin gets his potatoes on the grill right away, but he decides to keep them whole. "The worst thing you can have is an undercooked potato," Eddie later tells Caselin. But when Caselin cuts into one, he sees it's not done. Luckily during judging his cowboy caviar makes up for it.

Perfection on the Plate

"Everybody's doing grilled corn," Eddie notices, so he asks the kid grillers to "step outside the box [and] grill something else." Madison sees a tomato on her station, so she grills it for her cowboy caviar. "Oh, my Lord have mercy," says Damaris as Eddie cuts into Madison's perfectly cooked steak. Damaris also praises the addition of tomatoes. Despite there not being enough potatoes, Madison wins the challenge. "It feels like it's not even real," she says.

The Saucier, the Better

"Maybe we took it a little easy on you," Eddie calls out to the kids, preparing to deliver a twist with just 11 minutes left. The kids must prepare an additional dipping sauce to go with their international wings. Campbell decides to go in a Thai direction, but she misses the mark when guest judge Roger Mooking feels she's lacking a key flavor: "How are you going to cook Thai food without lemongrass?" he asks.

Winging It

"I'm pretty happy with my wings," says Nico, "but hopefully they're cooked," he adds, admitting he didn't test all of them. "That is the bomb," says Eddie after trying Nico's aji amarillo sauce. And Damaris calls it "magic," however, when it comes to the flavor of Nico's other sauce, she finds it heavy on the sesame oil. Unfortunately, Eddie points out some of Nico's wings are undercooked. Nico is safe, but Campbell is sent home.


Going Italiano

"It's basically a big meatball on a bun," says Tyler, explaining his Italian concept for the international burger challenge. And for his side, he's grilling zucchini. Damaris is concerned that he's starting his burgers too soon, and later Eddie sees they might be overdone. Upon Damaris' recommendation, Tyler remakes the burgers. "Now I'm freaking out," says Tyler as he's running out of time. Damaris loves the meatball texture, but she dings him on lack of creativity.


Mountain of Meat

"I don't like classic burgers at all," says Zoe, so for her the challenge is perfect. She decides to make her Mount Fuji burger, which uses lots of Japanese condiments. "I've made this burger a couple of times before," she says, feeling confident about her decision. "I really get the taste of Japan," says Roger. "It's really looking like a mountain," Damaris says about the patty, but she means it in the sense that it's too big to eat.

Flavor Bombing It

"The amount of flavor in my burger — that will be my winning ticket," says Nico, grilling a Caribbean-inspired beef and chorizo burger with a side of red potatoes. But as he's preparing his signature barbecue sauce, he sees his cured chorizo sausage has scorched on the grill, so he switches to using raw chorizo. "None of my potatoes are cooked," Eddie tells Nico. Luckily the burger gets better comments: "This burger is not shy on flavor at all," says Roger. Nico ends up winning. "There's nothing else in the world that I've done feels like this," he says.

Sandwich Synergy

"When you have a steak sandwich, you have to have a good cheese like a provolone," Eddie tells Grace as he visits her during the first challenge. "I'm using provolone," Grace replies. "Are you inside my head?" Eddie asks, surprised. "Steak to me, it hits home every single time," says guest judge Shannon Ambrosio. But Damaris points out Grace didn't cut the steak across the grain correctly.

Classic Doesn't Cut It

"This cut is going to mess me up on time so bad," says Caleb, after he nicks himself while slicing an apple. After getting bandaged up, he immediately starts cooking his bacon to top his pork tenderloin and apple sandwich. "I wish it wasn't such a big hunk of pork," Damaris says. Shannon praises the classic combo, but wishes there was more bacon. Caleb is eliminated after the first challenge.

Mixed Up and Messy

"You have mayo all in your hair," Eddie tells Iliana, who admits to being messy at home, and even messier in the kitchen. Not only that, she's a little scattered when it comes to gathering her ingredients: "I am really annoyed because I keep forgetting something every time," she says, running to the pantry. Her food, though, gets good comments: "I love the saffron on the chicken," Damaris says of the sandwich, but it's missing the grilled vegetables, which Iliana forgot.

Patriotism on a Plate

"To speed up the process, I'll wrap them up," Ian says of his plan for cooking the baby back ribs for the challenge. For the two patriotic side dish requirements, he makes grilled cauliflower with cheese sauce and a red cabbage slaw with blueberry vinaigrette. "I think that you nailed the challenge," Damaris tells him. Shannon finds Ian's ribs perfect, but he wants more barbecue sauce. But Eddie thinks the slaw feels "left behind."

Sweet Taste of Success

"I've got lots of stuff to do, and I really want to keep going," says Iliana after oil pops in her eye. She gets working on her pomegranate barbecue sauce for the ribs. After Eddie tastes it, he recommends she figure out what's missing. "Wait, I didn't add any honey," she exclaims. "This dish has so much flavor going on," Eddie tells her. Damaris, however, finds the barbecue sauce "aggressively acidic." But Iliana earns the win. "I didn't believe it," she says after hearing the news.

Living and Breathing BBQ

"I think I might just grow my hair back so I can get that cut in the back of my head," says Eddie when he sees Oliver with the letters BBQ shaved on the back of his head. Oliver's daringness also goes beyond his style. "You stepped outside of the box," Eddie tells him. "This is a funky plate of nachos," he adds, appreciating the toppings of corn, peppers, pineapple and pomegranate seeds.

Nailing Flavor But Not Doneness

"I'm just worried that the steak might be a little rare," says Tyra, "but taste-wise, it's delicious." And the judges agree. "You created a very daring cheese sauce," Damaris tells her. And Eddie calls her steak rub his favorite part of the dish. But Tyra's steak is undercooked, and for that reason she's sent home after the first challenge. "I'm going to keep grilling," she says.

Chaperones Not Wanted

"I feel like you a boss," Eddie tells Oliver, thinking the young griller might have forgotten to oil the grate before grilling his halibut for the taco challenge, but Oliver hasn't. "You don't even need me, huh?" Eddie asks Oliver. "Uh, no," Oliver answers, hoping the mentor/judge will leave him to do his thing.

Not Too Hot to Handle

"I got jalapeno juice in my eye," Leetha says, calling for a medic. "This is not good," she adds, worried that she's going to fall behind in the cooking challenge. But soon she's back on track, making her family's recipe for salsa. "Next time I cut a jalapeno, I'm going to have to wear goggles," she says half-jokingly.

Going for Texas Pride

"I'm going to go with some classic Tex-Mex tacos, as I am from Texas," says Jonathan, who's making shrimp tacos and rib-eye tacos. "I have to have everything perfect with my toppings," he says, making sure not to make the same mistake he did with his nachos in the earlier round. But Damaris stops by to encourage him to do more and be more creative. Luckily his addition of pears and his perfect cooking technique earns him the win. "I think I just made everybody proud," he says.

Letting the Food Speak for Itself

"So this must have been easy for you because you know a little bit about pigs," Eddie tells Allyson, who shows market pigs at state fairs. "Yes, sir," she says, causing the judges to laugh with her polite answer. Damaris finds her rooster bullets creative, but the pork is a bit overcooked. "Great start," Eddie tells her.

Second Time's Not the Charm

"This is the worst thing that could happen," Jacob says after his salmon starts sticking to the grill. But after a pep talk from the judges, he feels like he can get back on track. "I'm not that great under pressure," he admits. Guest judge Diva Q calls his salmon "so beautifully cooked," surprised it's only his second time cooking the fish. But his presentation is lacking and Jacob is eliminated.

Ribbing About the Challenge

"This challenge I need to make sure that my pork is cooked to perfection," says Allyson. "Are you concerned about them getting done in 50 minutes?" Damaris asks from afar. But Allyson shakes her head. Wrapping the ribs in foil is her trick for getting it cooked. But, unfortunately, the judges find them underdone. "But the flavor is spot on," says Eddie.

Top Secret Spice King

"He grabbed every single spice that we have in the pantry," Eddie tells his fellow judges after noticing Hayden is going to town making a spice rub for his pork tenderloin. "It's my secret spice rub, so don't look," Hayden says. "It's absolutely, completely balanced," Damaris says after tasting it. And Diva Q finds the pork perfectly cooked, but she wishes there was more of his salsa to top it.

Winning with Pork Perfection

"I think out of everybody, you were the one that most represented the challenge," Eddie tells Taylor about her pork chops. "These are correctly cooked," Damaris adds. However, there are some negatives: Taylor's overly thick gastrique and overly sesame-oiled barbecue sauce. But Taylor's cooking is more than enough to put her in the lead. "I'm over the moon," she says after Eddie announces she's the champion.

More Kids BBQ Championship

Go behind the scenes of the show with a tour of the outdoor set, meet the kid competitors, and get to know the hosts and judges, Damaris Phillips and Eddie Jackson.

Kids BBQ Championship