The smell of the Post Oak firewood surrounded the neighborhood and invited everyone out enjoying their early morning walk to imagine the taste of whole hog by the end of the day. It was Delilah’s family who were preparing to start their tradition of gathering, planning, and cooking a whole hog to celebrate the 4th of July. Her family would harvest the wood from their five acres of property in southern Texas, prepare the special family rub known as, “Danggood” and fabricate their own smoker using metal oil barrels. It was those days that built and guided Delilah to become an experienced barbecue chef. She had a combination of professional cooking techniques and traditional southern family to add to her extensive cover letter as a professional barbecue chef.
This summer Delilah has plans to visit her childhood friend in Memphis, Tennessee and enjoy some deserved rest drinking her favorite summer beer at the beer garden around the Mississippi River. While they both spent their time talking, Delilah’s attention was drawn to a flyer that was by the floor of their table, which was advertising a barbecue competition happening in the city. That flyer really caught the professional barbecue chef’s attention because it was considered one of the biggest competitions around the world. It would bring many people not just to taste something new to eat while in the city but also serve as a high stakes competition between people that have been BBQing for decades.
Delilah went back home and decided to participate in this competition to test her knowledge and to barbecue with people, just like the old times. Her best childhood friend promised her that she would gather all their friends when they were teenagers to hang out and eat what Delilah would prepare. It was also a perfect time to register, since the biggest barbecue competition was opening spaces for new competitors, and she could not waste this chance, since it is exceedingly rare that those competitions open spaces for new people.
The competition was a month away and our star chef started to study and prepare her family special rub “Danggood” with secret ingredients from her granddaddy’s backyard garden. She chose her team of sous chefs and line chefs to be by her side and she harvested the finest Post Oak firewood to use on the grand day – she would be ready to show her pit master skills to the public. What Delilah did not know was that barbecue became more sophisticated with computers and Artificial Intelligence to help create recipes, rubs, and cook meat precisely.
Meanwhile a group of computer scientists registered for the barbecue competition, and they are bringing their newest innovation to the barbecue world, that is a grill powered by an Artificial Intelligence called “Pitfection.” The Grill can cook perfectly using any cooking techniques in minutes and the people that manipulate the grills do not need to acquire any skill or knowledge about fire or barbecue techniques – the AI is already coded to understand grilling.
Everything was ready for the big day and while bringing into her tent all her pots and pans, wood and rub and dishware, Delilah learned more about these new computer scientists and how their AI grilled can cook in minutes with perfection. She got so nervous and almost gave up for the whole competition. She could not help herself from thinking how silly she was and believed that focusing on continuing traditions would bring her the prize, the world has been changing around her dramatically and rapidly and she forgot to upgrade her knowledge and adopt more technology into her cooking style.
Officially the competition started, and the rules were set. For Delilah to win she would need to cook a perfect whole hog: crunchy on the outside and juicy inside. This technique takes a day to be concluded and she needs to make sure her hog is rotating in the right direction and time so the parts of the hog that cook faster would not cook as quickly as the other parts that would take longer.
Meanwhile, the computer scientists were confident that they could get the prize since their machine would cook any meat perfectly with any kind of command, they would suggest to the machine powered by the AI and “Abracadabra” the meat would come out just as they would program. Blind taste tests in the past have proven perfect taste every time and they were confident that they not just could cook the perfect hog but also present their new machine to the market. What they did not know was that cooking a whole hog involves many traditions and it is one of the trickiest meats to cook, since you need to cook the shoulder, the belly, and the neck evenly and it needs to have the smoke taste from the wood and the fire as the finishing touch.
Delilah started to see all her materials and ingredients, she started to have a connection to traditions and when used to sit by her father and granddaddy and watch them for twelve plus hours how to cook a hog. She remembers the warm feelings, knowledge, and patience that you need to have to cook a hog with perfection. She also remembers that she went to a trade school right after high school where she learned about electricity and that electricity and fire are two things that most of the time should not be together.
After a little investigation by one of Delilah’s sous chefs, she was right, her barbecue intuition never lied to her, the “Pitfection” grill did not use the logs harvested by the best tree, it used propane gas and energy to work, and this could be the biggest difference between the winner and loser of the prize. However, she still could feel the pressure since the judges were AI enthusiasts and they could show that they were certain that the hogs made by Pitfection would win the competition, but Delilah did not give up putting all her emotions and techniques into place and she just cooked with love.
The big moment arrived, and the judges were ready to try the hogs. We could see by their faces while trying the Pitfection’s hog that everything was perfect. Delilah was already shaking and the sadness invading her soul. She closed her eyes, and she imagined her granddaddy eating her hog, smiling at her. The emotions took over her mind and heart. It was her turn, and we could see the faces of the judges, they were closing their eyes and smiling and tasting every piece of meat they could have. The judges kept pressing the skin to see if it would crunch, they would take pieces of meat from all over the hog, they looked at each other and the time was up.
After thirty minutes of discussion between the judges, it was time for the decision. The announcer came to stage and finally the moment arrived. The prize goes to the chef…Delilah Jones. She jumps up from her chair, hugs her team, kisses the little hog cheek, and comes to the stage. Her hog was not simply perfect but also full of history and traditions, which the AI machines could not reproduce. The Artificial Intelligence grill failed to use the old ways of barbecuing. The “Pifection” turned out to be not as perfect as the name suggests. The judges realized that food was not about taste but also the connections humans have with each other, with their ancestors and loved ones who passed on skills while cooking and sharing with people we care about. Meanwhile, the AI was absorbing all of this information to make itself even smarter for the next competition. But for now, at least, the victory belonged to the humans.
PerfectaTM – The World’s First AI Powered Grill., SEERGRILLS, June 2023, seergrills.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjwkNOpBhBEEiwAb3MvvR85yjBtng3LpIMEpJXz_ezlofhgEqJ6xGjIPS5vyX23_nJvezrzuxoCxYwQAvD_BwE.
My Technoloy source was inspired by the only and new grill powered by an Artificial Intelligence. This new product on the market can get any kind of protein to cook in seconds and the way you desire. However, the machine uses propane instead of fire, which can make an enormous difference when we are talking about barbecuing and this is where gave the idea on how the humans are still ahead of the cooking, since we can use fire to bring all the tastes to life. I also had to research a little bit more about the difference between Artificial Intelligence and robots. My first main idea, I thought, was writing more about robots cooking, but after I found out about this new product on the market, I decided to research more about AI and guide my story into that than robots.
“About Delilah.” Delilah’s Everyday Soul, www.delilahseverydaysoul.com/. Accessed 17 Oct. 2023.
“Barbecue Showdown.” Directed by Daniel Calin, season 2, episode 1, All3Media America and Maverick Television, 26 May 2023. Netflix, https://www.netflix.com/search?q=barbecue%20showdown&jbv=81057855.
My main character was inspired by a competitor named Delilah at the show “American Showdown” season 2 produced by Netflix. I loved her original southern name and how brave she was after she was competing with so many skilled competitors. She did not win the competition but inspired me to build a main character with the knowledge and kindness that she had throughout the show. The difference between the main Delilah and my character is that she will have a lot of knowledge about computers and electricity, giving her better ways to win the competition.
“Memphis in May World BBQ Championship.” Youtube, uploaded by Food.com, 4 Sept. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeQeUO5DBwg&t=78s. Acessed 14 Oct. 2023.
My story takes place at the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis, TN, the largest barbecue contest in the world since 1978. I would like to bring the realistic pressure of a World Championship that can bring to the competitors, so I researched their website, and I watched one episode of the “Carnivorous,” a Food Network series to really see how the championship is. One detail that really guided me to research more about this competition was the amount of paperwork the teams need to go through to register for the competition, the prize size and the amount of people that visit this festival that held this competition, it is a massive event.