OBcean Mercy Baron Chosen to Be Judge for World Food Championship

by on November 3, 2017 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach

Well-known local OBcean, Mercy Baron, has just been chosen to be a Top 10 Judge at the 6th Annual World Food Championships. It’s touted as the “largest Food Sport tournament in history” with over a thousand contestants and hundreds of teams. Last year, they say, 20,000 foodies watched.

The WFC claims :

“… it has given birth to ‘Food Sport’ by providing a level playing field, a fair judging system, a creative culinary fest, and a process that allows the culinary elite to show their chops and earn the respect they deserve.”

The Championships will be held in Orange Beach, Alabama in less than a week. And Mercy told me she’s the only one going to this prestigious event from San Diego.

Just how did this happen?

It turns out Mercy is a certified BBQ judge and has been for five years, an official Kansas City Certified BBQ Judge. She has a blog that does reviews of San Diego BBQ restaurants, does a podcast and she’s part of the Kansas City BBQ Society. In fact, she said, she just earned her “Masters” certification. Which means she’s judged 30 competitions, cooked with a BBQ team, and successfully passed a written exam.

“No tasting exams?” I asked. She chuckled.

So, her name in the BBQ world has gotten out there. One day not too long ago, the head of the World Food Championships called her up and asked her to one of the judges. “It’s a volunteer position,” she was told, “they give you nothing.” Mercy didn’t hesitate and jumped at this chance – and tried to figure out all the expenses.

Plane fare, hotel, rent-a-car for 4 days.

Undeterred, Mercy was able to enlist a bunch of businesses to sponsor her. She got 6 local OB businesses and one other. They are:

  • OB Noodle House
  • Mother’s Saloon
  • Raglan Public House
  • Beach Sweets
  • Specialty Produce
  • BBQ House, and
  • Te Mana Cafe.

Now she’s covered.

“You do it,” Mercy told me, “because you love BBQ and the family – it’s one big family.”

“But, why BBQ?”

“Even when I was a kid I loved it – the combination of sweet and saucy,” she said.

“How does one become a certified BBQ judge?” I asked.

“You join the Kansas City BBQ Society,” she said, “and take their class. Which are held all over. I was lucky and was able to take mine in San Diego.”

“Okay, I have to ask:what’s your favorite OB BBQ place?”

“The OB BBQ House,” said answered.

“What’s your favorite San Diego BBQ?”

It didn’t take her long to respond. She ticked off 3 of her faves.

“Iron Pig Ale in PB, Grand Ol’ BBQ in North Park, and Coops in Lemon Grove.”

Mercy leaves in a few days for the coast in Alabama. She’s not just going to be a BBQ judge she added – as there are 10 different categories of competition – but “also I’ve been asked to be a judge for the Chefs’ Table – it’s a great honor.”

Upon her return, she’d like to settle into her type of restaurant consulting, helping eateries with social media marketing. “I’m always asked by chefs and restaurants,” she said, “to try their recipes.” So far, she does it for free – plus a meal.

Here’s her website, Barons BBQ Beat.

Besides her social media skills, Mercy has writing skills. She’s written for the Reader, for the OB Rag. She is a big fan of steam punk and once wrote a major cover story on it for the Reader; she also loves the Renaissance Fairs – and is fairly involved in OB where she’s lived for years. For the last three years she’s lived on Saratoga Avenue with her boyfriend, Stephen Marchesi, a children’s book illustrator.

It’s wasn’t too long ago that Mercy mobilized neighbors in a successful effort to halt a proposed add-on to a short-term vacation rental house. With photos she convinced the OB Planning Board to squelch the illegal effort by the property owner.

Before OB, of course, Mercy had another life.

She was born in the Bronx and grew up in LA. “I’m a Valley Girl,” she said. She was married for 25 years and has a son, 40, who is a Fire Captain in San Diego.

Mercy went to college at Cal-State Northridge and graduated with a BA in Anthropology. And this is where much of her life’s work has been. She was a working archeologist for 20 years, she said, off and on. “Mostly in LA and Ventura County.” But also three years in San Diego.

Her focus has been on prehistoric Native American archeology – and this brought her to do work in Ocean Beach. Mercy then worked for a company hired to study a large Midden site prior to any development of the Entry Way Park. They found a lot of left-over shellfish discarded by Native peoples. This was back in 2009 to 2011.

Mercy leaves on the 9th – we wish her the best, safe travels – and buena suerte.

I’ve always said – scratch the surface of any OBcean and you’ll find an amazing story. And Mercy certainly proves this.



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

kh November 6, 2017 at 5:14 pm

Congratulations Mercy! Sounds like a big deal. Don’t let your taste buds get too privileged to enjoy our local grub.


OB Mercy November 7, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Never KH! Thanks for your good wishes!


Muir Avenue Ale November 8, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Way to go, Merce. And huge props to the outlets that sponsored you. I will definitely lean toward those businesses next time I’m out for coffee, dinner or happy hour.


OB Mercy November 8, 2017 at 8:04 pm

That’s what I like to hear! And so do the sponsors!


editordude November 8, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Safe travels Mercy. Can you bring any of that championship food back?


OB Mercy November 8, 2017 at 9:53 pm

I wish!


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: