We are proud to announce the first-ever Char Champion is… Mike Caruso! The former detective, now food industry salesperson, gravitated to barbecue over the past five years after his wife taught him how to cook. Mike loves brisket and pork butt and opts for the low-and-slow technique when preparing his favorite dishes.

“Since retiring as a police officer, smoking meat has become a passion! I enjoy the whole process; I love learning and bringing people together,” he said.

Mike will share his story in the pages of Barbecue News Magazine, take home a Yoder Smokers trailer rig, enjoy a VIP experience at the 2022 American Royal World Series of Barbecue, and receive $5,000 — which he plans on donating to the Naomi House, a charity that helps victims of human trafficking.

Thanks to our


Damon Uherek

Halbert Landers

Abe Terrell

The Cause

Good Food For Good™

We all have standards when it comes to the food we consume, and the James Beard Foundation is a major proponent of setting standards within the food industry. The Char Champion Competition supports the organization's mission to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture while pushing for new standards in the restaurant industry to create a future where all have the opportunity to thrive.

Meet our

Competition Host

Chef Terry Matthews has appeared on Food Network's BBQ Brawl and was a winner on the network series, Cutthroat Kitchen. The Phoenix-based chef runs BBQ Daddy, a successful barbecue catering business for private events.

Sponsored by

A little competition is a good thing. Especially when when it comes to barbecue. And let’s face it, whether you’re competing against the top smoke masters, the guy next door, or yourself, barbecue matters. So, for all you folks who like to win—from the backyard to the competition circuit–Yoder Smokers builds their grills and smokers for you. Yoder Smokers has generously sponsored an $18,000 Cimarron smoker rig for the Char Champion Competition.

Visit Yoder Smokers

Sponsored by

Since 1899, American Royal—a non-profit organization based out of Kansas City—has supported education programs and provided youth scholarships in the agriculture industry. The organization’s World Series of Barbecue is their biggest annual fundraiser, and Char Champion is excited to be a part of their big event!

Visit American Royal


All thermometers are not the same. Safety and quality depend on accurate temperature measurement, but cost, durability, and productivity are important too. You need the right instrument with a suitable sensor for your specific job. ThermoWorks produces durable, quality thermometers and tools that deliver accurate and safe results. Having best-in-class and award-winning instruments makes all the difference.

Visit ThermoWorks

Kent Rollins
Kent Rollins

Food is what brings family, friends, and neighbors together, and the Kent Rollins collection is a great place to gather your essentials. From coffee and cookbooks to country apparel, Kent Rollins signature line of cowboy goods has everything you need to master the grill, and beyond.

Shop Kent Rollins

Porter Road
Porter Road

Fully pasture-raised craft beef, pork, and chicken from farms in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania, delivered right to your door. Founded by chefs and butchers Chris Carter and James Peisker in Nashville, this is meat the way meat should be—without antibiotics, added hormones, or fillers. Once you taste the difference, you’ll never go back.

Visit Porter Road

Jack Stack Barbecue
Jack Stack

The iconic Kansas City barbecuers started as a small storefront in 1957 and have since earned their spot as one of the regions leading BBQ joints. In addition to their 6 restaurants, Jack Stack offers vacuum-sealed hickory-fired barbecue meals shipped on dry ice anywhere in the U.S.

Visit Jack Stack Barbecue