My Family Recipe Rocks Episodes

Joey Fatone Judges BBQ Championship

Complete Episode: BBQ Judge
Atlantic City is one of the top tourist hot spots on the east coast. It's well known for its beaches, historic boardwalk, and nightlife. This stretch of the Jersey Shore is also loaded with some awesome seaside joints that have been busting out classic dishes and sweet treats for years. When you combine all of this action with a BBQ competition and a full-blown rodeo, you have got the perfect recipe for family-style fun.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey is the backbone of this seaside resort city that connects shopping, resorts, and plenty of great places to grab some food. Even know you've got the sun, sand, and surf right next to the top resorts, like the Showboat Atlantic City, this place is almost always hopping with big events like the DO AC Smokin' Hot Atlantic City Barbeque Championship. Joey Fatone was invited to become an official judge at the event. But first he had to go to BBQ school to get his degree in smokeology!

The Kansas City Barbecue Society held today's class right on the boardwalk, giving Joey the opportunity to get schooled beachside on barbeque 101. From the different types of meat, to tenderness, taste, and presentation, this class would cover everything to get Joey ready to judge the DO AC Smokin' Hot BBQ Championship.

"I think Joey will be a great judge. I think he is going to have a fun time. Eating some of these team's BBQ is going to be great," said Don Harwell, BBQ instructor with Kansas City BBQ Society.

From the types of cookers used to the cuts of meats and contest rules and how to accurately judge on game day, competition BBQ is extremely involved. As a judge it is important to understand the process so each cook gets an honest score. There is a lot more to judging competition BBQ than just eating lots of great food – lessons Joey was ready to test at the DO AC Smokin' Hot Atlantic City BBQ Championship.

So after two hours of teaching and two hours of eating, Joey became an official BBQ judge!

Joey had an entire day before the BBQ competition began, so he decided to "DO AC" and head down to the boardwalk. From seaside favorites like crabfries to the world famous salt water taffy the Jersey Shore is known for, Joey turns the boardwalk into his own 'mile-long buffet line.'

Joey's first stop was at Chickie's and Pete's for some famous crabfries. Thirty years ago, with some leftover seasonings from their crab season, the owner tossed the fries with the crab seasoning. It quickly became a crowd favorite. Today, the restaurant sells about 3 to 4 million pounds of crabfries per year.

To satisfy his sweet tooth, Joey stopped at a place that actually originated on the Jersey Shore in the late 19th century. James' Candy Company is stocked with everything from their world famous salt water taffy to chocolates, fudge, and macaroon cookies.

"It was invented here in Atlantic City on the original boardwalk and a taffy merchant was closing his shop one night and a storm came up and soaked his whole stock of taffy and the next morning a little girl came up and said, 'Hey sir, can I have a piece of that salt water taffy.' And the name stuck," said Lisa, James' Candy Company.

Places like this are what make a trip to Atlantic City so special.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk is definitely where most of the action takes place on the Jersey Shore. Atlantic City is home to some great seaside eateries but just off the boardwalk you'll find great shopping, restaurants and places the entire family will enjoy, like the Atlantic City Aquarium.

Atlantic City Aquarium features more than 100 species of fish and marine creatures. The 23,000 gallon tank showcases the fish for the New Jersey coast, including sea bass, sand tiger sharks, northern stingray, and kingfish. You can get up close and personal with the marine life at the Touch Tank where you can touch everything from a stingray to sea urchins.

"What's so great about it is it is like a hidden gem of Atlantic City. We have lots of features that families absolutely love," said Michelle Bay, A.C. Aquarium.

The Atlantic City Aquarium is a family fun place that brings out the kid in all of us.

With all the exciting things to do in Atlantic City, it's easy to work up an appetite. After exploring the aquarium, Joey headed to a local hot spot just off the boardwalk. Gilchrist is known for their killer food, stellar service, great location, and their blueberry pancakes!

With their secret homemade batter, sprinkled with fresh blueberries, they cook, flip and serve them up by the hundreds.

When you think of Atlantic City lots of great things come to mind, but what's not on the list, are cowboys or rodeo clowns, but when you DO AC you quickly learn this place if full of surprises.

Joey swings into the Boardwalk Hall for the Third Annual Atlantic City Rodeo. There are seven events that the cowboys and cowgirls compete in – bareback riding, calf roping, bull riding, barrel racing and more.

This rodeo is no joke, except for Hippie -- the rodeo clown, but even he has quite the job to do, from helping the cowboys and entertaining the crowd, it's a hardworking job, but somebody's got to do it!

"I am the guy that gets to entertain the crowd. It is a live event and there are animals involved so there are going to be times when things are click, click. So I have to fill in those empty spots with comedy and antics," said Hippie.

With traveling livestock, crew and cowboys and cowgirls, the rodeo delivers one heck of a show with a number of action packed events.

After Joey went through hours of training to become a BBQ judge, he puts his knowledge to the test at the DO-AC BBQ Championship.

The championship pits the best in ribs, brisket, chicken, and pork in an all-out competition that really smokes. There's no half-stepping here, only the finest in barbecued meats, competing for a grand prize of $10,000 and the bragging rights of being crowned grand champion.

As Joey learned, judging BBQ is definitely a science. With so much great food to taste, judges usually only take one to two bites of each entry, jotting down their first impressions of taste and presentation. They don't compare one entry to another. Instead, they take a bite, chew and grade the taste with a number between one and nine.

All the scores for each category are entered into a BBQ super-computer and the winner is tabulated.

"First it was chicken. They told me don't eat the whole thing. Take a bite, fine. Second was ribs and they were good. They told me again, don't eat all of it. With the ribs, they aren't supposed to fall off the bone. There should be a little tug. Third was pork. That's where I started to slow down a bit. It is good, it's tasty but then all sudden I was like, 'OK, we're done, right?' No, we have to do the brisket," said Joey.

The grand champion of the DO-AC Smokin' Hot BBQ Championship winner was Chick, Swine, and Bovine!

Atlantic City is really one of those destinations the entire family will enjoy from the historic boardwalk, to the beautiful beaches, good food and unique events, like the rodeo and BBQ competitions. For more information visit

Segment 1
Joey taking his oath before graduating from the Kansas City BBQ Societys judging school.
Joey Fatone Becomes Official BBQ Judge
Joey Fatone is in Atlantic City to judge the DO-AC Smokin' Hot BBQ Championship. But, before he can become an official judge, he has to take an intensive course on the rules of judging good BBQ.
Related Photos Watch Segment
Segment 2
So many delicious places to eat on the AC Boardwalk, youll never leave hungry!
Joey Fatone Explores Atlantic City
Joey Fatone had an entire day before the BBQ competition began, so he decided to 'DO AC'. From tasting all the delicious food on the boardwalk to exploring the aquarium and watching a rodeo, Joey discovers there is a lot to do in Atlantic City.
Related Photos Watch Segment
Segment 3
BBQ chicken is good stuff!
Joey Fatone Judges DO-AC BBQ Championship
After Joey Fatone went through hours of training to become a BBQ judge, he puts his knowledge to the test at the DO-AC BBQ Championship.
Related Photos Watch Segment
Photo Gallery
Joey, with fellow judges, tasting award winning BBQ to crown the grand champion.
Behind-the-Scenes Photos: BBQ Judge Joey
Behind-the-Scenes Photos: BBQ Judge Joey
See Photo Gallery

Stay Informed

Find the Live Well Network in your city and see the full program schedule

The Live Well Network
Knock It Off!
Live Big with Ali Vincent
My Family Recipe Rocks!
Food Rush
We Owe What?
Let's Dish
Mexico: One Plate at a Time
Home with Lisa Quinn
Hiring America
Children's Programming
Military Makeover
The Balancing Act
Pickler and Ben