The Future of Food Competition, Vegas-Style

Nearly 300 culinary contenders competed in various categories ranging from barbecue to burgers to chili, but the World Food Championships determined that the humble sandwich that reigns supreme. Paris Las Vegas chef Robert Butler took first place (and $50,000) with his barbecue pulled-pork sandwich. Food-marketing mastermind Mike McCloud and his agency, with nearly a decade of working with sanctioning bodies for chili and barbecue cook-offs, organized the event Nov. 1-4 at Caesars Palace and other resorts.

“The landscape of food competition as a sport has exploded over the last four to five years, with thousands of festivals and competitions in America and abroad,” McCloud says. For McCloud, Las Vegas is the ideal backdrop for the World Food Championships and its World Series of Poker-style tournament action, with winners potentially coming from all over the U.S. and all final tables leading to a showdown on the Strip. “I can’t think of a city that’s more equipped, prepared or deserving of a massive food show that ultimately will span 10 days and two weekends,” McCloud says. “I see it as the next SEMA [Specialty Equipment Market Association] or PBR [Professional Bull Riders] that’s all about food.”