BBQ Bracket Battle

Meet Virginia Living’s BBQ Bracket Battle champion!

The final tally is in, and our BBQ Bracket Battle champion is Scoot’s BBQ of Gloucester Point!

Smoke + Salt, our guide to seriously good barbecue, oysters, and more, has expanded this year to include other iconic Virginia foods such as fried chicken, ham biscuits, cornbread, peanuts, and comfort food. Smoke + Salt hits newsstands next week, and in preparation for this new and expanded issue, we held our first ever BBQ Bracket Battle!

A panel of expert judges narrowed our Best BBQ Awards list from more than 250 restaurants to just 32, divided among four regions. From July 29 to Sept. 1, these restaurants went head-to-head each week as you voted to decide which restaurants advanced to the next round until only one remained to be crowned Virginia Living’s BBQ Bracket Battle champion.

Scoot’s BBQ will be featured in the Dining story of our December 2019 issue. Subscribe by Oct. 24 to receive your copy in the mail!


As our thanks to voters, we will be giving away five free baskets of Virginia-made, BBQ-related products (one each week), including BBQ sauces, equipment, rubs, snacks, and more, all thanks to our sponsors! Each basket will also include a copy of Smoke + Salt 2017, Smoke + Salt 2018, Virginia Living’s Recipes: A Collection of Favorites, and a $25 gift card to the Virginia Living Store—for a total value of more than $250. Check out the featured products and businesses below.

Additionally, one lucky winner will receive a grand prize of two FREE tickets to the Virginia Wine Expo’s SMOKED! event on March 6, 2020 at Main Street Station in Richmond. 

“Held in spectacular Main Street Station on Friday evening, March 6, 2020, this all-inclusive indulgent food, wine, whiskey, and barrel-aged craft beer event features several of the country’s most legendary barbecue restaurants, a diverse selection of global cuisines, and award-winning food entrepreneurs presenting some of their signature smoked products. You’ll taste a wide variety of dishes and ingredients representing a diversity of cultures and cuisines from around the U.S. and the world. Also, you’ll imbibe top-shelf whiskey from Virginia and across the U.S. and premium wine from Virginia, Washington State (the 2020 National Guest Region), and Bordeaux/Loire Valley, France (the 2020 International Guest Region) while enjoying live music.” 

 Visit for more information.


Joseph Haynes, David Heilbronner, Joshua Shook, and Pete Snyder

Tim Carman

Tim Carman is a James Beard Award-winning food writer and columnist for The Washington Post. His work has appeared in numerous editions of the Best Food Writing collection as well as the sixth edition of Cornbread Nation. He has also written for Imbibe magazine, American Scholar, Food Network magazine, and other publications. Before joining The Post in 2010, he served as food editor and columnist for Washington City Paper. He lives in Hyattsville, Maryland, with his wife, writer M. Carrie Allan, and their two naughty dogs, Lucinda and Hans Floofer.

Joseph Haynes

Joseph Haynes is an award-winning barbecue cook, a Kansas City Barbeque Society Master Certified Barbecue Judge, and the author of two books: Virginia Barbecue: A History and Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Tradition. He also authored the Virginia Barbecue Proclamation that was unanimously passed by the Virginia State Legislature in 2016. He can be reached for questions or comments through his Facebook page.

David Heilbronner

After growing up in Charlottesville, David Heilbronner was an orthopedic surgeon for almost 40 years before retiring in 2016. A certified Master BBQ Judge through the Kansas City BBQ Society, Heilbronner and his longtime friend and fellow orthopedic surgeon Bruce Wilhelmsen founded Bone Doctors’ BBQ Sauce Company in 2008. “Bone Doctors’ started as the result of my smoking pork butts and selling BBQ sandwiches at the soccer park to raise money for my daughter’s soccer team to play in Italy. People loved the food and sauces and would ask where my restaurant was,” he says. Heilbronner and Wilhelmsen decided to focus on the sauces and, after two years of research and experimentation, began production, making sauces with “unique flavor combinations in four different sauce styles.”

Joshua Shook

Joshua Shook is a certified culinary scientist and a manager in research and development at Smithfield Foods. He and his wife, Heidi, form the award-winning competitive barbecue team HamTown Smokers. Go behind the scenes at a competition with the Shooks in the Smoke & Salt 2019 issue, on newsstands Sept. 20. (Subscribe here by Aug. 22 to receive it with your October 2019 issue.)

Pete Snyder

Pete Snyder is the chief executive officer of Disruptor Capital, an angel capital investment firm focused on funding and growing disruptive technologies, ideas, and entrepreneurs. Prior to starting Disruptor, Snyder was the founder and CEO of New Media Strategies, the world’s first and one of the largest social media marketing agencies. A graduate of The College of William and Mary, Snyder is active in politics in Virginia, where he has served in various leadership roles in the Republican Party and ran for Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth in 2013. Additionally, Snyder is a World Championship certified barbecue judge, an accreditation that was fact-checked and declared “100% true” by The Washington Post. Snyder, his wife Burson, his daughter Bee, and their dog Elvis reside in Charlottesville.


Alexander Brothers, Timberville — Bottle openers and cutting boards

ARTon Products, Lively — Custom Virginia Living BBQ Bracket Battle engraved pint glasses

Barrel-Art, Hampton — Barbecue smoker chips

Belmont Butchery, Richmond — $50 gift certificates

Bone Doctors’ Barbeque Sauce, Charlottesvillle — Barbecue sauce

BS Grillin’ Co., Lynchburg — Smokin’ Chipotle BBQ sauce

Dizzy Pig Seasonings, Manassas — Barbecue rub

Hub’s Peanuts, Sedley — Sweet Heat peanuts

Java Food Co., Cheriton — Sumpthin’ Spicy Tandoori Java Dust spice blend

Joseph Haynes Virginia Barbecue: A History

Landcrafted Food, Independence — Beef sticks

Route 11 Potato Chips, Mt. Jackson — Barbeque potato chips

Smithfield Foods, Smithfield — Oven mitts, cooking utensils, and coupons

Stone Spice Company, Lynchburg — BBQT barbecue rub

Virginia Wine Expo, Richmond — SMOKED! event tickets

Whitley’s Peanut Factory, Hayes — Bourbon Barbeque peanuts

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