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Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q; Decatur, AL
BBQ Plate: Tender pulled pork shoulder with coleslaw—arguably the best BBQ at the event from Chris Lilly (left).
VIP Area: None, unless you count the small open space next to a sparkling new Komodo Kamado smoker/grill on display. (It’s being called the next Big Green Egg.)
Typical VIP: A V.P from Bad Robot, the production company behind Star Trek.
Hill Country; NYC
BBQ Plate: Pete Daversa and Elizabeth Karmel's succulent beef brisket (fatty burnt ends were especially amazing) and Cool-as-a-Cucumber Salad.
VIP Area: A small tent.
Typical VIP: Firemen from West Village Squad 18.
Beverage: Spiked Tea (though not for the firemen).
17TH Street Bar & Grill; Murphysboro, IL
BBQ Plate: Mike Mills’s smoked baby back ribs with awesome baked beans.
VIP Area: A big tent with picnic tables and a barbecue-sauce fountain that transfixed a Japanese TV crew. (A jealous pit master called it the red carpet of Big Apple BBQ.)
Typical VIP: Legendary food writer Calvin Trillin.
Beverage: Very potent Pink Pull Your Panties Down Punch.