South Carolina barbecue gets a boost with TV show

Danielle Dimovski (right), also known as “DIVA Q” of the television program BBQ Crawl, talks with Eleanor Smythe of Camp Happy Days at a fundraiser at The Alley on Sunday featuring barbecue served by caterer Jamie Westendorff. Videographer Joel Cameron and soundman Adam Parsons recorded for the show. Buy this photo

South Carolina barbecue is getting some international publicity.

The Travel Channel’s “BBQ Crawl” was filming in Charleston this weekend.

The crew set up outside The Alley on Columbus Street Sunday afternoon. Hostess Danielle Dimovski, aka champion barbecue cook Diva Q, sampled Jamie Westendorff’s smoked pork and talked shop on camera.

The segment should air next May or June or July, producer Emily Glenn said.

Westendorff donated all the food and stayed up all night cooking it. Sandwiches were selling for $4 and plates for $8. All the money will be donated to Camp Happy Days, which provides activities for children with cancer and their families, director Eleanor Smythe said.

The show typically supports a local charity in each locale, Dimovski said.

This is the second season for the show, which is based in Ontario. The crew travels all over the United States sampling barbecue.

“I see vast regional differences,” Dimovski said.

Westendorff uses vinegar and pepper to season his pork.

Dimovski uses a “Kansas City style” tomato-based sauce.

Lake High Jr., a master judge with the S.C. Barbecue Association, was also interviewed for the show. He wrote a book called “A History of South Carolina Barbecue.”

His mission is to get people to recognize that “we are the unrecognized barbecue capital of the world,” he said.

Of course cooks in North Carolina, Kansas and Texas would certainly dispute that claim. High said he stands by it because South Carolina has more barbecue cook-offs per capita than any other state, and South Carolina cooks use all four styles of sauce — mustard, vinegar and pepper, light tomato and heavy tomato.

Hemingway touts itself as the “Barbecue Capital of the World” on its home page on the Internet. The town also boasts about its kudzu, usually viewed as a pest (“it’s very pretty, it feeds our pollinators”).

The state Recreation, Parks and Tourism Commission recently started a $1.2 million advertising campaign to promote the state’s barbecue to visitors. A billboard on I-26 West, just before the Montague Avenue exit, touts the “SC BBQ Trail Map,” which lists scores of barbecue restaurants around the state. Another one on I-26 East near I-526 boasts “BBQ You’ll Blog About.”

The campaign also includes advertisements on Facebook, The Food Network and The Travel Channel.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or follow him on twitter @dmunday.

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