It's time to stock up on wet naps and toothpicks, people — the Bulleit Bourbon Canadian National BBQ Championships are back, and they're saucier than ever.
Now in its 15th year, the three-day celebration of all things meat hits Whistler Blackcomb from July 29 to 31.
"I love welcoming back the Bulleit Bourbon Canadian National BBQ Championships each year," said Dusty's Bar & BBQ manager Joshua Kearns in a release. "The variety and creativity brought forth with the food never fails to impress me. It's all-day entertainment paired with delicious barbecue."
New on the schedule this year is the Sauce Contest, a blind taste-test judged by the public, with $500 up for grabs. That's on top of the weekend's signature competitions, such as the King of the Grill, the Canadian International Chili Championship and the Backyard Burger Championship.
Reigning World Burger Champion Rusty Johnson, who owns a home in Whistler, explained why the National BBQ Championships tend to bring out his best.
"This is the one where I put all my eggs in one basket. I put all my time and a lot more prep into this (competition) than other ones because it does mean that much more to me and I want to perform in front of my family and friends," he said. "It's like my second-home contest."
The 2014 winner, Johnson didn't take home the burger title at last year's event, so he'll have some extra motivation when he fires up the grill next week. The winning burger will be featured on Dusty's menu for a calendar year.
"There's nothing better than having a burger on the menu (at Dusty's) so every time I drink there on Saturdays I can look at my friends and say, 'Hey, what should we order for lunch? I hear this burger right here is pretty darn good,'" he said.
And if you're wondering what Johnson has planned for the burger competition, unfortunately he's not about to divulge his secrets.
"It's got beef and a bun," he said cryptically.
But the burger king isn't too big-time to share some tips for the amateur griller. The key to a good two-hander, Johnson said, is to keep it simple.
"Make sure that the two most important ingredients, which is the bread and the bun, is where you put all your effort into. Everything else should only complement it, not take it over," he said. "You're cooking a piece of ground beef between two pieces of bread. Put your focus on what it really is. Put some more attention into that patty. It doesn't need a ton of seasoning, but get a nicer quality meat and cook it perfectly.
"Then get a really nice, fresh roll when you're using your bun ... You don't want to cover up the flavours of the meat, you want to accent it, and that's the biggest thing that goes wrong."
The weekend kicks off at Dusty's on July 29 with Whole Lotta Ribs, an all-you-can-eat barbecue dinner followed by a live performance by Whistler's own FOMO. The BBQ Competition runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 30, with samples available for spectators by donation. Later that night, Dusty's hosts the Bottomless BBQ Buffet with live music by The Will Ross Band.
On Sunday, the day starts with a $1 pancake breakfast in support of the Whistler Rotary Club, followed by the final leg of competition and the crowning of the Canadian National BBQ Champion.
For tickets and the full schedule, visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com/events-and-activities/events/2016/07/bulleit-bourbon-canadian-national-bbq-championships.