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Tropical Smokehouse hosts ‘live-fire symphony’ of top BBQ pitmasters from across the U.S.

If you’re looking for barbecue nirvana, it can be found during the “Smoke and Sunshine: A Craft Barbecue Meat Up” from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20. Think I’m exaggerating? Nope.

Held at Tropical Smokehouse restaurant in West Palm Beach and presented by Tropical’s own chef Rick Mace along with Robert Jacob Lerma, this event will feature 10 of the country’s top barbecue pitmasters.

These are some of the heaviest hitters in the known barbecue universe coming to the Dixie Corridor.

Among them: Andy Munoz (Moo’s Craft Barbecue out of Los Angeles), Bryan Furman (Bryan Furman BBQ, Atlanta, Georgia), Carey Bringle (Peg Leg Porker, Nashville, Tenn.), Charlie McKenna (Lillie’s Q, Chicago, Illinois), Hector Garate (Palmira Barbecue, Charleston, S.C.), Jeffrey Budnechky (Apocalypse BBQ, Miami), John Bates (InterStellar BBQ, Austin, Texas), Jordan Wright (Wright’s Barbecue, Fayetteville, Arkansas), Kerry Bexley (Snow’s BBQ, Lexington, Texas) and Raheem Sealey (Drinking Pig BBQ, Miami).

Literally a live-fire symphony, this walk-around event will have over 10 fire stations where lovers of the sacred craft rendezvous with intense flavors.

With a myriad of spice blends, smoke, marinades and more this will be where the magic happens. This is where flavors so beautiful are made that in just one bite you realize that happiness does exist and world peace is possible.

Some of the offerings will include Bryan Furman BBQ’s spareribs with a peach barbecue sauce, Peg Leg Porker will be delivering their Tennessee-style dry rub ribs, Kerry Bexley of Snow’s BBQ in Texas will be doing pork steaks and Charlie McKenna from Lillie’s Q in Chicago will be serving a miso and teriyaki brisket.

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Most definitely no slouch around the smoker himself, Mace said he will be doing ‘Florida-style’ barbecue which will include achiote-rubbed smoked fish, DemKota Ranch tomahawk ribeyes and roasted whole pineapple that will be served over shave ice.

Though Mace has owned and operated Tropical since 2021 and received well-earned accolades, some people might not be familiar with Lerma. For those not “in the know,” Lerma is a prolific photographer whose works have been featured in the National Geographic, Esquire, Southern Living, Outside and more. He is also an interesting personality in the barbecue world and passionate about capturing barbecue in pictures. Chef Rick met Lerma through a friend in Texas and said Lerma was “the rainmaker who could bring all the talent to town” through his connections within the barbecue world.

Mace said their goal, besides offering insanely good barbecue, is to continue “the culture of craft barbecue in South Florida” and “show people the potential of what we do.”

This will be an indoor-outdoors affair with a large tent in the back of the restaurant with an outdoor bar and a stage where the band Surfer Blood will play.

With multiple live fire stations going at once outside the restaurant, will the fire department be there too? Mace laughed at the prospect and said if they see smoke “don’t come alarmed, come hungry.”

One more reason to believe in a better world through Smoke & Sunshine: proceeds from the event will benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Tropical Smokehouse presents: Smoke & Sunshine: A Craft Barbecue Meat Up

Eddie Ritz is a journalist at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. He has lived in the West Palm Beach area for more than 30 years and, from mild to wild, will cover noteworthy community happenings. You can reach him at Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

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