First Sgt. to compete at Final Table BBQ cook-off

  • Published
  • By Airman Andrew Poynter
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Master Sgt. Tyler Woolverton, 790th Maintenance Squadron and 90th Munitions Squadron first sergeant, Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Lang, 90th Munitions Squadron, and a varying crew of teammates won a series of barbeque competitions leading to their qualification for the Final Table Competition in Bentonville, Arkansas, scheduled for April 12-14, 2024.


Woolverton, Lang, and their teams previously competed in the Battle of the Branches Competition in Yorkville, Illinois, and the World Food Championships in Dallas in the fall of 2023. They won both competitions, setting them up to proceed to the Final Table.


In the Battle of the Branches, unofficial teams representing four military branches competed in a number of food categories, such as ribs, pork, brisket and chicken. Woolverton, Lang, and their team won the competition, earning them the golden ticket to the next competition: The World Food Championships. This second competition debuted the “live fire” category, in which contestants cooked over an open flame. Once again, Woolverton and his team won, awarding them a place at the Final Table.


The Final Table Competition is a private event, taking place over three days with finalists like Woolverton and Lang’s team who won their spot at the World Food Championships. The final will have 11 categories such as different meats, vegetarian, live fire and more. The competitors will be judged in a number of these different cooking methods to ultimately determine the victor.


While not all of these events are military themed, Woolverton observed that they still draw a large military presence. Contestants and judges alike often had military experience of some variety.


“There are a lot of teams filled with veterans competing in these events and many join these teams because cooking has a clear structure, and it can remind them of their time in the military,” said Woolverton. “Competitive food sport is very similar to the concepts we operate off of, from the structure, to the time management, to the leading of teams and being able to stay flexible and adaptive to numerous situations.”


Woolverton found his passion for barbeque in 2017 from a neighbor who participated in the sport. He practiced and learned from his neighbor for a year to prepare for his first cook-off in 2018. He walked away with a fourth place trophy and a love for the activity. Since then, he has competed in and won several competitions across the country, improving his barbeque skills and perfecting his technique.


Since his win at the World Food Championships, Woolverton has spent his spare time preparing and practicing his craft for the Final Table. He expressed his excitement for the upcoming challenge, and his readiness to show what the team can do.


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