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Georgia guard member named finalist in Air Force 'High Flyin' Barbecue Challenge'

The Air Force Personnel Center Directorate of Services is hosting the inaugural Air Force High Flyin’ Barbecue Challenge now through September.  Six regional winners will compete at sanctioned events throughout the continental United States over the summer, and the top three winners from the regional competitions will advance to the Air Force barbecue finals to be held in San Antonio, Texas, in September. (U.S. Air National Guard photo contributed/Released)

The Air Force Personnel Center Directorate of Services is hosting the inaugural Air Force High Flyin’ Barbecue Challenge now through September. Six regional winners will compete at sanctioned events throughout the continental United States over the summer, and the top three winners from the regional competitions will advance to the Air Force barbecue finals to be held in San Antonio, Texas, in September. (U.S. Air National Guard photo contributed/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Todd Houghton, 116th Air Control Wing aircraft structural mechanic, poses with wife Margaret at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, after receiving an award for the 2009 Iron Chef competition he won while deployed to Al Udeid, Qatar. (U.S. Air National Guard photo contributed/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Todd Houghton, 116th Air Control Wing aircraft structural mechanic, poses with wife Margaret at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, after receiving an award for the 2009 Iron Chef competition he won while deployed to Al Udeid, Qatar. (U.S. Air National Guard photo contributed/Released)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The heat is on across the Air Force as gurus of the grill face off in the ultimate barbecue showdown, but one Georgia Guard member fully intends to smoke the competition.
Tech. Sgt. Todd Houghton, a 116th Air Control Wing aircraft structural mechanic, has recently been named one of six finalists to compete in the inaugural Air Force High Flyin' Barbecue Challenge, hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center Directorate of Services, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

According to Houghton, he first learned of the contest in February and after marinating on the idea of entering, he submitted a 120-second video to AFPC, depicting why his barbecue is the best.

"Low and slow is the key to award-winning barbecue," said Houghton, a well-seasoned expert on the subject with more than 14 years of competition experience.
He and his barbecue team 'Hoot-N-Annie Q' are primed for the Air Force's competition.

"Houghton's methods of cooking create a unique and delicious flavor that surpasses any local barbecue restaurant in this area," said Staff Sgt. Luke Kessinger, a fellow aircraft structural mechanic with the 116th ACW. My family and I have enjoyed many smoked turkeys and pork shoulders for the last five Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners thanks to Todd."

"Grilling in your backyard is completely different from competition," Houghton said. "There are so many additional factors, barbecuing at the competitive level."
Houghton said his competitive flames were further fueled when he learned he was one of the two finalists selected from the East Region in early May.
The challenge drew participants from across the Air Force before official cuts were made. Houghton explained, "From all the submissions across the Air Force, Reserves, and Guard, only two contenders were selected from each of the geographic regions."

"The intent of this program is to encourage Air Force member participation in locally sanctioned barbecue competitions in an effort to improve morale and resilience, as well as foster local community involvement," Scott Black, AFPC special projects officer, said in an AFPC article published in February.

According to the article, all regional competitions will be held at officially sanctioned events across the country, and the top three winners will advance to the Air Force barbecue finals that will be held in September in San Antonio, Texas.

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