Young chef Maci King brings home the bacon

Maci King shows off her awards for cooking competition.

MONKS CORNER – Maci Pearl King, 10, of Blythewood and Winnsboro may well be on track to becoming the BBQ Queen of South Carolina. That’s not much of a stretch considering that her dad, George King, was the reigning South Carolina BBQ King for several years, and his barbecue is still some of the most popular in the state.

As part of the Southern Barbecue Network Invitational competition held in Monk’s Corner last weekend for the top 15 competitors nationally, a children’s competition was held for kids ages 6 – 15. The annual kids event is a fundraiser for the local Lions Club.

With no school on Friday, Maci, a Bethel-Hanberry Elementary second grader, traveled to Monk’s Corner with her Winnsboro support team – her dad, grandparents (Eddie and Norma Branham), family friend Karyn Isenhoward and aunt, Leah Branham. It was Maci’s first cooking competition.

She would be entering two events – the Friday night ‘No Pigs Allowed’ event where she would serve fudge squares made from her grandmother’s famous fudge recipe, and also on Friday evening, she would prepare a grilled item of her choice that would be judged Friday evening and awarded on Saturday.

With help from her BBQ king dad, George King, Maci turns her grilled molten cheese sliders into a dish for judging.

Maci choose to make molten cheese hamburger sliders.

Upon arrival, the young chefs attended a mandatory cook’s meeting at 5 p.m., and at 5:30 p.m., Maci and the other competitors began preparing their grilled entries. By 7 p.m., Maci’s sliders were ready and she turned them in for judging.

When the awards were announced on Saturday, Maci’s sliders were awarded third place by the judges and, perhaps more importantly, won second place out of 15 entries for the $75 People’s Choice award.

Judges’ comments about Maci’s succulent sliders included: ‘Nice color,” “Pleasant aroma,” “Savory.” With regard to tenderness, the judges wrote, “Spot on! Good Job!”

In an exclusive interview with The Voice, Maci revealed the secret to her culinary success at the cook-off.

“We were each given two pounds of ground beef and told to prepare whatever we wanted to cook,” she said.

“For the sliders, I made two ground beef patties for each bun,” she explained. “I placed some Velveta cheese on top of one patty and then put the other patty on top of the cheese. Then I kind of smushed the patties together to look like one patty. I made nine. Then I wrapped each one in bacon and put them on the grill for 20 minutes, cooking them on both sides.”

The judges apparently found the sliders to be mouthwatering.

While Maci had not competed against other cooks previously, she has had a little experience with the cook competition terrain. She worked her dad’s ‘Can’t Quit Smoking’ barbecue vending trailer selling tickets at Pig on the Ridge and the Doko Rib Fest last year, and she said she regularly helps her grandmother (Norma Branham) turn out some pretty mean lemon pound cakes.

Maci said she’s saving her $75 cash prize for a trip to Disneyworld, and that she’s looking forward to entering the Monk’s Corner competition again next year and any others that might come along in the meantime.

“Like her daddy, I’m afraid she’s got barbecue smoke in her blood,” Norma Branham said about her granddaughter. “We’ll have to see where this goes,” she said with a smile.