KANSAS CITY, MO. – Looking back at her education and the formative years she spent working at Smithfield Foods, Emily Detwiler was ready for her most recent career change when opportunity knocked. Initially she stepped away from her role as the director of fresh pork marketing for Smithfield Foods to avoid uprooting her family from Kansas City and relocating to Virginia with Smithfield. As it turned out, it was the work she did with the pork company that led her to her next move this past August, when she assumed the newly created role of chief executive officer of the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS).

It was a logical progression for Detwiler’s career and in this week’s MEAT+POULTRY Podcast she discusses how her education in marketing led her to work in the food industry, and then with Smithfield, where she claims she came in knowing a lot about marketing and a little about meat. During her stint of about four years with Smithfield, Detwiler immersed herself in the smoke and fire world of competition barbecue and positioned Smithfield as one of the industry’s most committed processors supporting and promoting the increasingly popular culture and cuisine that is American barbecue.

She spent years around some of the biggest names in the competitive barbecue circuit during her unique journey that helped her land her dream job with KCBS. She learned plenty from barbecue icons like Tuffy Stone and Chris Lilly during her journey. Establishing relationships with these well-known influencers and others in the barbecue world provided her with credibility and in hindsight, prepared her for leading KCBS today and into the future.

As a supplement to this podcast, MEAT+POULTRY’s annual Barbecue Report, publishing in June, will include a more in-depth profile of Detwiler and how the past 10 months in her new role have been everything she expected and more, especially given the challenges created by the recent coronavirus pandemic. 

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