Healing Power of Barbecue
Healing Power of Barbecue
By Dave Eckert, Tribune Lifestyle Editor
As President and CEO of Lee’s Summit Medical Center, Damond Boatwright knows a thing or two about working with doctors, staffers, and the community to get things done. “I have the greatest job in the world,” Boatwright told me. “I get to meet incredible people all of the time. I get to work in the community, lend a hand, and give back. I get to fix problems, which is wonderful.”
Boatwright is actively involved in the Lee’s Summit Economical Development Council, the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Rediscovers Board, and he serves on John Knox Village’s Board of Directors. With an impressive resume like that and an equally impressive day-job, I didn’t think Boatwright would have time for much else….I was wrong.
Boatwright is a certified, card-carrying judge for the Kansas City Barbecue Society. “Aside from marrying my wife, becoming a certified KCBS judge is the biggest personal accomplishment of my life,” Boatwright exclaimed. “A friend of mine by the name of Dean Alexander took me to a barbecue contest he was judging down in Florida about six years ago. I saw the contest, tasted the barbecue, and knew this was a world I wanted to learn about and enter. I was hooked.”
So, Boatwright went through the KCBS certification course in 2003, and passed with flying colors at the famous Jack Daniels Invitational Barbecue Contest in Lynchburg, Tennessee. After moving to Kansas City two years ago from Richmond, Virginia (with ulterior barbecue motives, according to his wife), Boatwright, now judges up to a dozen barbecue contests a year in Kansas City and beyond.
“I’m always asked what my favorite barbecue is,” Boatwright shared. “My answer is always, “Yes.” It’s impossible and unfair to compare Carolina barbecue to versions in Memphis, Texas, or here in Kansas City, so my favorite barbecue is always what I’m judging or tasting right then.”
Boatwright tells me the thing he loves most about barbecue is the people. “Wherever I go, I meet folks from all walks of life, of all shapes and sizes, but with one common passion-barbecue,” says Boatwright. “We may disagree about the sauce, or the wood, or the rub, but they’re all so positive and passionate about their barbecue. We always have that in common.”
Boatwright has judged at The American Royal Barbecue Contest, as have I, and he’s on the list again this year. That’s special for him. He calls the Royal the Super Bowl of barbecue contests. “With the amount of teams, the atmosphere, the activities, and of course, the barbecue, the Royal is one-of-a-kind. There’s just nothing like it.”
When we were wrapping up our conversation, I asked Boatwright one last question about his wife, you know, the one who had suspicions he took the job here just so he could judge and consume barbecue. Had she gotten the barbecue bug as well? “My wife is the best barbecue judge assistant.” According to Boatwright, “She comes to the contest with a chair, a book, and a cooler. Anything that I love that I don’t finish (that’s a lot in these contests, believe me), she makes sure we bring it home.”
So, even though he might have had those ulterior motives to move to Kansas City, it seems things have turned out well for both of the Boatwrights.