'BBQ USA:' Release Date, Host, And More - What We Know So Far

Joining a slate of new Food Network shows scheduled to debut in the next few months is "BBQ USA," which will spotlight barbecue competitions across the country, Realscreen reports. If the summer months haven't already whetted viewers' appetites for some pulled pork and smoked brisket, it looks like the show is sure to accomplish that mission with an inside look at America's many celebrated and time-honored regional variations of barbecue.

In preparation for the show's premiere, it might be a good idea to brush up on your BBQ knowledge, as the culinary art form varies from Texas to Missouri and beyond. Barbecue is such serious business in America, in fact, that it's been the subject of academic study. Smithsonian Magazine compiled a historical record of how the cooking style was first developed in the Caribbean islands and then imported to the continental U.S. by Spanish conquistadors. And starting in 2009, Texas A&M University's Department of Animal Science began teaching a course called "Texas Barbecue," whose curriculum contains everything from cooking methodologies to the types of fuel and regional variations in the rubs and sauces used to flavor different cuts of meat.

So, that leaves a lot of potential ground that might be covered on the history, art, and science of barbecuing in America on "BBQ USA." But what do we know about the show so far?

When will 'BBQ USA' be released?

The first episode of Food Network's "BBQ USA" will air at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, July 11. The show will feature six episodes, according to the network, each of which will be an hour long. The series is among many brand-new programs that Food Network parent company Discovery plans to roll out in coming months, consistent with its plans for expansion. According to Reuters, Discovery was looking to "beef up its content library" through its pursuit of a merger with Warner Media, which was set in stone in April.

In addition to "BBQ USA," viewers can look forward to programs like "Me or the Menu" on June 30, which follows restaurant owners as they face the challenge of running their businesses together with their significant others (via TV Insider). Later, "It's CompliPlated," set to air August 11 and featuring vegan chef Tabitha Brown, is premised around the difficulty of cooking for eaters' dietary restrictions, food allergies, and taste preferences. Flavortown Mayor Guy Fieri also stars in two new series this summer, "Guy's All-American Road Trip," coming June 3, and "Guy's Ultimate Game Night," scheduled for August 31. With its summer lineup, the network is banking on stars such as Brown and Fieri to help popularize the brand-new shows, and "BBQ USA" is no exception.

Who will host 'BBQ USA?'

According to his Food Network bio, Michael Symon has worn many hats. An award-winning chef and restaurateur, he's opened popular eateries in cities from the Midwest to the east coast and authored two cookbooks, one of which became a New York Times best-seller (per WKYC). The newest venture on his resume will be hosting "BBQ USA," adding another television credit to his appearances on Food Network shows like "Iron Chef" and "Worst Cooks in America," as well as with Bobby Flay's "Food Nation with Bobby Flay," "Beat Bobby Flay," and "BBQ Brawl: Flay v. Symon." (The two are close friends, according to the Food Network. An interesting coincidence: The network's schedule says "BBQ USA" will air between episodes of "Beat Bobby Flay.")

Michael Symon certainly has the credentials to host a new series, but when it comes to barbecue, tastes are personal and opinions held devoutly — a lesson Symon may have learned when, earlier this month, the chef made waves on Twitter over his claim that ribs are overcooked when they fall off the bone. Episodes of "BBQ USA" might inspire more heated debates like this one, given that Symon will experience many of the different varieties of barbecue that America has to offer.

What will happen in the episodes of 'BBQ USA?'

According to the Food Network, "BBQ USA" promises "an up-close look at the fiery showdowns and red-hot 'cue being cooked up from Tennessee to Texas to Georgia and everywhere in between." Beginning with its first episode on July 11, Symon will travel to some of the most important barbecue competitions in the country. One of these, reports The Wrap, is the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, billed as the world's largest pork barbecue competition, where the winning team will be crowned "the highest title in competition barbecue" and awarded more than $145,000 in prizes (via BBQ Champs Academy). Other stops include the Cedar Fest BBQ Cook-Off in Texas and Rhythm & Ribs BBQ Festival in Georgia. 

Besides showcasing competitors in action, "BBQ USA" will also share experiences of everyday barbecue lovers as Symon talks with fans of the cuisine. Until the show debuts, carnivores will have to visit the best barbecue restaurants in the U.S. in anticipation.