Jelle Ver Berne – Smaakmakers BBQ Team, Olen, Belgium

Jelle Ver Berne


Olen, Belgium


How and when did you get started in barbecue?

Me and my father where interested in competing in the Belgian championship and we went to see the championship in 2007 to get a better idea.

From that moment we started to assembly our current team and we have been competing since 2008.


 Where are you from?

Olen, Belgium


What inspired you to get into barbecue, or what gives you inspiration now?

The fun and creativity that comes with creating great dishes and food from the grill.


What certifications, training, or special qualifications do you have?

Followed a KCBS judging training 3 years ago in Amsterdam.


What kind of flavor profiles do you prefer, and what is prevalent in your area?

I prefer the Mediterranean kitchen but i can enjoy pretty much any cuisine if it’s cooked right. Belgian cuisine is a mixture of classic French cuisine mixed with world flavors.


6. What is most appealing to you when it comes to presentation?

The creativity you can put into a dish when plated up, making it like a piece of art.


How spicy is too spicy?

I’d say from a mid-level to hot


Is there anything unique that is barbecued in your area?

Belgian bbq contest are different to the US contest in the way of we plate up our food on real plates instead of the turn-in boxes. We can use all garnishes, side dishes or sauces we see fit.


What types of woods do you use? Are you a stick burner or pellet?

I use alot of applewood or just plain oak.


What kind of smoker do you use?

We are big supporters of Primo Grill.


Do you have a favorite event?

Belgian national championship and The Jack


What do you consider your biggest accomplishments, and why?

Qualifying for the Jack this year and winning the Public choice award at the world championship in 2008 and the Belgian championship in 2010.


Do you have a blog, YouTube channel, or webpage?


and our website:


Have you ever been featured on any television shows?

Made some recipes for local tv and several brands.


Do you have a business, catering service, product line, or publication that you would like to tell our readers about?

Me and my father own a catering company, we do more then just barbecue but bbq is the thing we do most.


Are there any tips, techniques, or recipes that you feel comfortable sharing with our readers?



Have you ever had an epic failure (e. g. fire went out, forgot something at home, power goes out at your contest, extreme weather, etc.) at a contest?

We forgot a glaze for our ribs at home 2 years ago, one day before the championship started at 23:00 we noticed it and called home.Called one of the staff and he managed to get it to us in time (Belgium isn’t that big )


Do you have a funny story you would like to share?

U should go eat Chinese food after every competition.

We did it last time and had a blast even if u consider the food wasn’t good at all.


When did you start competing, and how did you first get involved in it?

Started in 2008 after visiting the Belgian championship in 2007. Hooked ever since.


What is your biggest win?

Public choice award world championship 2008


Where did you get your first win?

World championship 2008


How many Reserve and Grand Championships do you have?

One time grand champion at a regional championship


How has becoming a professional or semi-professional barbecue cook changed your life? Are you full time, or do you hope to be in the near future?

It has changed my life alot, Looks like i breath, walk and talk barbecue as it’s a big part of my life.


 Do you compete locally, or do you travel all over to compete?

Regional and we do foreign competitions normally once a year.


What are some tips you could give to a new cook team?

Make sure u get a good crew of friends, without the friendship it’s hard to keep a good team together.


 How much does it cost to compete in a contest (e. g. meat costs, gas, entry fees, etc.)?

Never counted all the costs together but i’d say the try-outs cost more then the costs u have on site. Our team comes together each 2 weeks to cook and or brainstorm about new things or to improve out existing recipes.


 What do you consider the most frustrating part of competition barbecue?

The part that sometimes the quality of the judges is up for discussion. Unlike in the US we in Belgium or Europa for that mather lack trained judges.


KCBS Master Judge and Certified Table Captain Founder and CEO

Posted in Interviews

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