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116th Airman marinates in success after winning AF barbecue challenge

For Tech. Sgt. Todd Houghton perfection is the standard for his barbecue. Here, he slices his competition beef brisket to be exactly the width of a pencil. Anything thinner or thicker would be put aside. “I treat my barbecue like I treat the work I do for the Air Force. This has my name attached to it. It represents me and who I am,” Houghton said. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. David Salanitri)

For Tech. Sgt. Todd Houghton perfection is the standard for his barbecue. Here, he slices his competition beef brisket to be exactly the width of a pencil. Anything thinner or thicker would be put aside. “I treat my barbecue like I treat the work I do for the Air Force. This has my name attached to it. It represents me and who I am,” Houghton said. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. David Salanitri)

Tech. Sgt. Todd Houghton celebrates with his wife, Margaret, after he was presented first place in the first Air Force High Flyin’ BBQ Challenge. Houghton, with the help of his wife, friends and members of his home unit, beat out more than 60 other Air Force barbecuers throughout the three stages of competition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. David Salanitri)

Tech. Sgt. Todd Houghton celebrates with his wife, Margaret, after he was presented first place in the first Air Force High Flyin’ BBQ Challenge. Houghton, with the help of his wife, friends and members of his home unit, beat out more than 60 other Air Force barbecuers throughout the three stages of competition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. David Salanitri)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The results are in, and for Tech. Sgt. Todd Houghton the taste of victory is sweet. 
After winning two rounds of competition, the aircraft structural mechanic with the 116th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron recently won the Air Force's first-ever High Flyin' BBQ Challenge that was held in San Antonio Sept. 25--27.

Houghton went on to take first place in the competition, with his brisket making the top 30 in the entire 250 team competition in San Antonio.

A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Houghton pours his heart and soul into his barbecue. 

"A gentleman approached me at a competition not too long ago asking for me to sell him $100 worth of my barbecue, but I only would sell him about half of that," said Houghton. "Even though I cooked the amount he asked for, I wasn't happy with how half of it turned out."

Houghton went on to say that [the gentleman} wanted him to sell it anyway, but Houghton refused.

"If my name is attached to something, it better be done right the first time," said Houghton 

Mediocre isn't something he's willing to settle for.  

"Todd's advantage was his experience, planning, and attention to detail.  It was obvious that he takes his barbecue seriously, and that gave him the edge," said Col. Marc Piccolo, commander of Air Force Services Activity.  "The competition was intense, but Todd wasn't intimidated.  He stuck to his plan and came out a winner."

According to Jim Anderson, Air Force Services Activity Office Strategic Marketing, Houghton's professionalism and barbecue skills were factors that set him apart from the rest.

"Todd did a great job at the competition. In fact, he did such a great job we plan to bring him back again next year to defend his title," said Mr. Anderson. 

Houghton said that he would love the opportunity to compete again and hopes that more people decide to participate.

"I would love to compete again next year," said Houghton. "It was such a great experience, and opened up so many opportunities for networking," he said.  "I'm grateful to my team, the guys who I competed against and the Air Force for making this such an amazing event."