In general however I viewed BBQ forums to be a range of discussions on up to minute topics and trends within BBQ. I knew opinions would always vary and threads and posts would be open for all types of comment. I think the same happens after every game of football, X factor, BB or the Apprentice program does it not? Everyone has their own thoughts and do tend to voice them as "experts" over a pint as is the way in the UK but wont be pulling on a football shirt any time soon! .
BTW I agree that those people who make personal slants are totally wrong.
But.......... IMO just how well these contestants performed each week and the dishes they have attempted to cook should encourage lively debate in most forums sadly not some. Will it raise awareness or encourage Joe Public to want to do BBQ after witnessing how 8 of the best amateur BBQ's in the country performed (or not) on an open Q with food that they cannot afford? we will have to see
However I think a point it is being missed here by some. When you agree to do these shows and apply to try to be BBQ Champ as one of the best "selected from 1000's", then there is some "expectations" . So unless you do the job well and perform, eyebrows will be raised and the comments will flow. Regardless of editing, pressure and the lack lustre judges, a lot of the Q'er aren't half making pigs ear out of the job, some going through by default rather than merit! It is what the contestants are attempting to produce and their talent on the Q not them themselves that is being openly discussed, is that being "being hurtful"? surely not? £25k may just go to the best of the 8 cards in the hand not the best BBQ chef!
You refer to Grillstock and the competitive circuit but many Qers may not or do not want to follow that route, considering it a bit costly and elitist like F1. Just as a heads up I am due to do my KCBS judges training in Kansas City in October so I do take this pretty seriously. But in those comps you are cooking to a certain regulated style, have time to prepare, cook and present in your own cocoon of Q, the pressure is from yourself, mistakes can be rectified. Its the end result that is being judged not how you got there, unfortunately in BBQ champ the opposite prevails. However I do give bigger kudos to those that regularly perform in front of the fee paying public each week, where their livelihood is on the line should they make a pigs ear out of it (no pun intended). Cooking for 400+ now that is pressure!
By the way we did have a "Backyard BBQ" at the SMF weekend it wasn't a comp but our Judges were Joe Public.