DES MOINES, Iowa — The cases are crammed, the walls are covered, and the frames are full.
There’s not one bit of room left, but Darren Warth is gonna have to make some.
“It was kind of crazy,” he laughs. “I didn’t feel like I was old enough to be inducted to the Hall Of Fame, because almost everyone who’s been inducted is either retired or passed away.”
Just 20 years into the world of competition BBQ, Warth hit the top of the mountain last week when he was inducted into the National BBQ Hall of Fame.
“They had to change the schedule because I was still competing,” Warth says. “I had to do turn-ins and then do the induction ceremony!”
It only made sense.
Warth has been rocking the American Royal in Kansas City since his very first entry — a rack of borrowed ribs in 2003.
“And we got a perfect score!” he remembers. “We finished third, we tied, but ended up getting third place there and since then it was game on.”
In the game, Warth has now won every single one of America’s biggest competitions — some more than once.
Not only that, he’s also mastered the restaurant business. He’s now got three of them, including the well-known Smokey D’s BBQ.
“Everything is about consistency,” he explains. “In the restaurant business AND in competition BBQ.”
While Warth’s desire to run a good restaurant still burns hot, his competitive fire on the barbecue circuit has changed a bit.
“When I stopped focusing on winning everything, and started focusing on enjoying everything, things got a lot better.”
That’s NOT to say he doesn’t still enjoy winning competitions. He can always build another trophy case.
“They call me the GOAT in the BBQ circuit, right?” he winks. “We’re just getting started.”