Americans, especially in the South, take their barbequing very seriously. Now it’s Melbourne’s turn to show off our chops.

After finishing 10th in the Chef’s Choice division of the World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Melbourne husband-and-wife duo Matt and Margaret Vitale returned home with a taste for stoking and smoking.

Using connections struck up in Tennessee, the couple has established a local competition – sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society – and is encouraging Melburnians to fire up at the inaugural Melbourne Barbeque Festival.

Running from January 29 to February 1 at Queen Victoria Market, the competition will see barbeque enthusiasts cook up chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder and beef brisket, judged on criteria of taste, tenderness and appearance.

Organiser Matt Vitale says we could learn a thing or two from the Yanks.

“Australians tend to focus on ‘grilling’ on high heat for a short amount of time, which is perfect for prime cuts.”

“But American barbeque, and particularly competition barbeque, can be very technical and involve adding layers of flavour – or ‘flavour profiles’ – to meat over a longer period of time.”

While the Chef’s Choice category encourages some creative license, the majority of the competition will feature strict guidelines, including a compulsory meat-inspection prior to cooking and barbeques only being fired using wood, wood pellets or charcoal – leave the gas bottle at home.

If competitive barbequing isn’t your thing, but meat sure is, there will be a host of barbeque-food traders on site, hawking everything from Australian-inspired cuts to international styles.

Entries cost $350 per team and include a six-metre by three-metre cook site and pop-up marquee.

melbournebarbecuefestival.com.au