A short video on cooking a delicious, and easy to make, Prime Rib.
A short video on cooking a delicious, and easy to make, Prime Rib.
Wood…..most folks are not into wood for much more then throwing a log into the fireplace to keep warm during the winter. Many do not even care what type of wood they are burning for heat, just that it is a good burn. Well, BBQ‘ers are a bit more selective with the types of wood they like to use. I remember when I started BBQing, I was using, like what most folks will do, whatever type of wood was available in my area. In Florida, that means Oak wood, and lots of it. I would always be scrounging around for whatever wood I could pick up, at times I felt like a storm hunter, looking for downed trees after a big storm went through my area. This worked okay, for a while, but I soon realized I needed another layer of flavors on my products, that I just was not getting from my local wood. I needed a variety of wood, properly dried, that would compliment the products I produced on my cooker. So, I did what came natural, for me, I went on-line. A couple years ago, a good friend of Let’s Talk Hog, came to visit from Canada, Wilfred Reinke, (Fred) many folks know him as the Oshawa Ogre. Fred came down for a visit, during Pigfest here in Lakeland, Fl two years ago, and he told me about Baxter’s Original, in Georgia. Fred stopped in and visited with Michael Baxter, and his family, during his drive down to Florida. Fred was thoroughly impressed, not only with Michael’s products, but also in his passion to offer only the best products to his customers.
I decided to get in touch with Michael, and using his products has greatly effected my results. Where I was just trying to utilize any type of wood I could pick up, Baxter Original, offers only the best quality wood, from all different types of hardwood and fruit woods. One of the things that sets Baxter’s apart from the other wood providers is, Baxter’s only air dries their products. Many wood providers try to speed up the drying process by kiln drying their products, not Baxter’s. At Baxter’s they place their wood on racks and force constant airflow around the wood. This allows the wood to dry in a natural time frame which preserves all of the natural sugars in the wood which helps to provide the most flavor. By forcing air around the wood they can ensure that the wood dries completely so you never receive wet wood.
If you are looking for a variety of wood Baxter’s can offer you that. They offer many what I would call base wood; Hickory, Oak, Almond, Pecan & Maple. I like to start with one of these woods, then add extra flavor by using some fruit wood, it depends on what I’m cooking, as to which fruit wood I use. Baxter’s offers all types of fruit wood, to satisfy your needs; Apple Cherry & Peach. They offer these woods in a variety of cuts, premium smoker wood chunks, smoker wood chips, and whole logs. I have personally used the chunks in a gravity feed cooker, my stumps, and in a stick burner, my Lang 36. I have not had any negative issues using either cooker. All I got out of the wood I used was, wonderful wood flavor, exactly what I was looking for.
Baxter’s Original is a popular source for wood, amongst professional BBQ cooks. Baxter’s is used by many winning teams, such as Rescue Smokers, Holy Smokes, Wooly Bully Mafia, Git-R-Smoked, Q-Fused BBQ & my team Hogs Gone Wild BBQ. Beside the fact that Baxter’s puts out quality wood, that keeps these and many other teams winning, Baxter’s knows what the teams are looking for in their wood, because Michael Baxter has a BBQ team of his own. So to say that Baxter’s Original knows how to cater to BBQ teams, is an understatement. In my opinion, it would be in the best interest of any BBQ team, or even backyard cook, looking to up your game and flavor profiles, get some Baxter’s Original wood. Ordering is very easy on the Baxter’s web-site: click here
I would like to personally thank Michael Baxter for taking time to sit down with Let’s Talk Hog, and grant us a short interview. I enjoyed learning more about Baxter’s Original, I hope you will too.
LTH: Michael, if you could please, give us a brief history of Baxter’s Original, when and how did Baxter’s Original get started?
Baxter’s: Baxter’s Original started in November 2009, in my barn, in Fitzgerald, Ga. We sold our first bag of wood chips on Ebay, and lost $1 in the deal, due to shipping fees. We now have a physical store front and a real wood shop, with myself and to other employees.
The location for Baxter’s Original shop is:
LTH: Who is involved with the running of Baxter’s Original?
Baxter’s: I own the business, and operate as President. Matt Green is out Production and Store Manager. Aaron Smith is our Director of Marketing.
LTH: I know, first hand, that you offer great wood to BBQ teams, are there other types of customers that help make up your customer base?
Baxter’s: Although we have a special place in out hearts for all the Pro Competition Teams out there using and promoting our products, out real customer base is the backyard chef. The guys/gals that may only grill/smoke twice a month, but when they do, they want the best products possible. We love getting an email or phone call from a customer that just had the best cook of their life, and attributes us to part of that. That’s what really keeps us going.
LTH: What is the name of your Professional BBQ team, and who are the members of your team?
Baxter’s: Our Competition BBQ Team is called-Aunt Mary’s BBQ Brigade. The team is made up of Myself, My Father, Aaron Smith & my Brother David.
LTH: Where did you get the name of your BBQ Team?
Baxter’s: Our team name is a tribute to my late Great Aunt, Mary E. Baxter. She was our family matriarch and the single most positive influence in my life. She always told me to pursue my passions and to do it with integrity and zeal, she is missed. I can’t start a fire without remembering her with a smile, she was 92.
LTH: What are some highlights of your BBQ team, memorable calls you have received?
Baxter’s: We did 7 competitions in 2012, with the largest competition being the Smoke on the Suwanee, in Live Oak, Fl. We got an 8th place chicken call there, with 83 teams. We had a 3 call day, at Pigs and Wings in Perry, Fl. We have competed in 3 competitions in 2013, with several calls, and hopefully more to come.
LTH: What is one thing on your BBQ bucket list?
Baxter’s: The first thing on my BBQ Bucket list is to win our first Grand Championship, hell, a Reserve Grand Championship would be nice right now….
LTH: What is on the horizon for Baxter’s Original, what are some goals you may have?
Baxter’s: We have been growing leaps and bounds over the last 2 years, and we do not see it slowing down anytime soon. Most recently we have been working to add more restaurant business to our books, and now we supply some of the best BBQ joints on the East Coast. I think we will see a lot more action in this area over the next year or two.
LTH: Where can folks go to get your fine products?
Baxter’s: Please visit our web-site at: www.baxtersoriginal.com or feel free to stop by our showroom.
Thanks Michael for the interview, and all you do for BBQ.
Years ago when I started cooking BBQ, I was like most folks, I will admit it, I used the regular charcoal I bought at the grocery store. What do we grab with the charcoal, something to start it with….lighter fluid!!! Yes it is true. Sometimes I would even buy the charcoal with the lighter fluid already on it, how convenient. Back then, I thought all BBQ had the flavor of lighter fluid, that’s what grilling and BBQ is all about, right? Well I have learned a lot since then. To get good flavor on your products is always the goal, and one way to do that is, to start where the cooking starts, with your fuel. For BBQer’s and griller’s, that do not use gas or pellets, that means charcoal. I also went the propane route, and again, could not get the flavor on my products. I found myself reverting from my $300 gas grill back to my $60 Weber. My wife thought I had lost my mind, until she tasted the food. If you want to get good flavor on your products, you must start with a good base, and Kebroak & Fogo Charcoals are that base of flavor you need.
When I started my BBQ team, about 3 years ago now, I was introduced to Kebroak, Lump Charcoal by Chad Ward from Whiskey Bent BBQ. Like I said I was using a lot of the briquette charcoal I would buy from the nearest store, at the cheapest price. One thing I noticed the very first time was, so much less ash. I guess I kinda got use to having that extra crunch and ash flavor, what a difference when it was gone. I’m sure BBQ judges are not happy with ash flavored BBQ. Huge difference when I started using Kebroak. I used the Kebroak as much as I could, then I went to pellet cookers, so I lost contact with Kebroak for a while, due to me not needing the product anymore. I still enjoy my pellet cookers, but I have recently decided to go back to a stick burner. I used the Kebroak in a test cook, with my new stick burner, and it all came back to me. The flavor and ease was still there, I missed that in my cooking. With that being said, lets learn a little about Kebroak and Fogo Charcoal.
Experience the traditional charcoal making process, click on the video below.
Today the folks at Kebroak, still make their charcoal like it has been made for thousands of years. This is the secret why it burns longer, hotter and cleaner than other charcoal. At temperatures of around a 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, your steak gets seared, sealing the delicious juices inside and caramelizing the crust.
Kebroak all natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal comes from Central America. They get their product by pruning, clearing forests of fallen trees and trees marked for cutting, not harming the environment, but making it stronger.
***You can now have Kebroak Hardwood Charcoal delivered conveniently to your door!! FREE shipping means no more hassle carrying heavy charcoal bags to your house. For FREE DELIVERY Click Here
Like I said, it had been a while since I had the opportunity to use Kebroak charcoal. I ordered a bag to use in my new Lang, and Sebastian Bussert, Managing Director of the Charcoal Company, the makers of Kebroak, suggested I try their latest product Fogo. I said I would really like to give it a try, so he sent me a bag.
First a bit of background about Fogo. Fogo, like Kebroak is made in Central America, El Salvador to be exact. El Salvador is known for a few things, beaches, surfing & coffee. Coffee needs to have the right environment in which to grow, and one thing that helps insure growers of having the best coffee in the world is proper amounts of shade for their product. Coffee growers are continuously working on their shade trees, cutting some down, pruning them & planting new trees. This gives the makers of Fogo charcoal an abundant and sustainable resource of raw material.
I have to say, the Fogo is definitely lump charcoal for the big boys!!! Fogo is the lump of lump, it did a great job in my Lang, the cook time and ash content was superb. It was obvious to see that Fogo is made from premium hardwood tree, very similar to Oak. The way I understand it, the pieces that make it into each bag of Fogo, are all hand picked by the charcoal maker. I was very happy to have tested this product in my stick burner. I do have a gravity feed cooker, and I do not recommend Fogo for that cooker. The pieces are just too large for me to comfortably use in that cooker. Bridging will be a problem with the Fogo, but the Kebroak would be the perfect solution for anyone with a gravity feed cooker. So, remember Fogo for stick burners, and large capacity cookers, and Kebroak for gravity feed, smaller cookers or any with the possibility of bridging during the cooking process.
Fogo Premium Hardwood Charcoal is gaining popularity amounts well known restaurants in the U.S. Fogo has only recently become available to the general public, and it is gaining momentum and a growing fan base. The best way to get a bag of Fogo sent to your home, without paying shipping, is through Amazon.com. Why mess with going and picking up a bag at the store, have it delivered to your front door for free. To order your 35lb bag of Fogo Charcoal Click Here Amazon ship their product extremely quickly, and if you do not like the product, you can just return it to them. Not a lot of risk there, but I know you will like it, I do.
I have been asked many time, “how did you get involved with BBQ?” I don’t know if it is how, as much as why… Some folks are just born with BBQ in their blood, their family has being cooking Q for generations. Others get involved with the socializing aspect of BBQ, just hanging out with some buddies and figure, “let’s take this party on the road”. Still others, like myself, start off in the backyard with the family, and with the encouragement of friends and family decide to enter a competition, and
get totally sweep up in the excitement of the competition.
No matter how we got involved with competition BBQ, I think we all have a couple of things in common, we all enjoy the spirit of competition, we all love cooking BBQ (kinda tired of eating BBQ though lol) and we all have, what I call a need to roam. I can only speak for myself of course, but I have a family and my regular job that keeps me very busy, and I have to find time to “schedule” BBQ into my life. I am very lucky, as I have a very understanding and supportive family, and they allow me time to engage in my favorite hobby, but after a while the backyard becomes very small, and unable to fulfill your BBQ desires. Soon you start to expand your BBQ domain and enter a local competition, that goes well, and if you are very lucky, get the thrill of having your name called during the awards ceremony, now you are hooked. Willing to travel to compete, your comfort zone just went from your backyard, to city wide, county wide, state wide & and for some folks, nation wide. To me the desire to compete is a big part of doing competitions, but the excitement of traveling to new locations, seeing new things, and of course meeting new people, that is a huge part of the competition BBQ scene. The cooking portion of the competitions is the art of BBQ, but the travel, and meeting folks is the life of BBQ!!!
Too many good friends to list and show all, below are just a few pics of friends and BBQ family.
You know what you are going to cook at each competition, before you get there, but you do not know who you will meet, what your site looks like, exactly what the venue will be like, sometimes these things do not reach our expectations, but for the most part, we are happy with the out come. At times our “regular” lives over run any individuality we may try to express, but getting out on the highway, jumping on that plane or just breaking away from the ordinary routine, helps add some spice to life. For me, change is what keeps my heart beating, helps the blood surging, I love it. I am waiting, not very patently, mind you, for our next competition. We had a very good time at our last competition in Eagle Lake, FL. Jim Elser (Pitmaster from Sweet Smoke Q) and his team did a great job. We got a great call in ribs, third place. What fun it is to hear your name called, but I have also had it go the other way, no calls at all, what a bummer that is, but then you start to think of the great time you had there, the hard work you put into it, the money you paid………yep, even more of a bummer!!! lol Kidding aside, I do love to hear our name call, but being there and competing on the level that today’s BBQ is at, is really an incredible feat on it’s own. Then getting to meet the fine folks involved with competition BBQ, is always a great thrill.
I’m like many, we do a lot of practice cooks at home, between competitions. When I started out, I had my family who were so eager to be my little Ginny-pigs, and try out as much BBQ as I could cook up for them, but now after doing this for a couple years now, it seems like everyone is busy when I want to do a cook. So, I have to hit the streets with my BBQ, getting friends and extended family, that I haven’t over used yet, to eat some BBQ. Honestly, my family is always there for me, with open hearts…..and empty stomachs. I would not have even started this team if it was not for y’all, thanks!!! (See what you guys started?) Getting back to the
practice cooks, I enjoy doing them, then getting to write about them after I have finished, it is a great way to keep up my skills, both as a cook and a writer. I have two primary grills that I cook on, first is a Lang 36 patio, I just picked this cooker up a couple months ago, and I am very happy with it.
My second grill is a GMG (Green Mountain Grill), a pellet smoker. I love turning on my cookers, the smells from the competitions come rushing back as soon as that smoke hits the air. Thanks to Chad Ward from Whiskey Bent BBQ, I have had a GMG at every competition I have done, but to me the smell and sounds created from the GMG are part of the competition, in the middle of the night, when it is finally quite around the competition site, except for a couple of Karaoke freaks going all hours of the night…that’s another story, listening to the auger feeding the pellets into the fire box, and the wonderful aroma created by the woods within the pellets, the smell of the meat cooking.
I truly enjoy that experience, and by getting a small feeling of that here at home, helps me feel connected to what I love to do, in a small way. I really wish I could do more competitions, if it were up to me, I would be at everyone of them, but as I said earlier, BBQ still has to be scheduled around the “regular life”. Not to mention, doing a BBQ competition is not the cheapest thing in the world. You have your fees for getting into the venue to compete, meat costs, spices, gas(that’s a big one now), equipment, entertainment & drinking cost. With the prices of meats going through the roof many teams are drawing back on catering due to the high cost of meat and gas. Pulling my trailer will really eat up the gas. If I have a customer for BBQ, I try to set up a home or office delivery only, much easier on the pocket. Another thing many teams are doing to try and off set cost is taking on a team sponsor, this has been something some teams have some for years, but now a days, most teams have, or are looking to have team sponsors. Many sponsors are will to help with the cost of doing competition BBQ, and others are able to offer products, for no cost, but help to offset some BBQ expenses. We have been fortunate to be able to work with Pitmaster BBQ Sauce (formally known as Rooftop BBQ sauce) as a team sponsor, they have a great sauce. Andy Allen and his Rooftop BBQ team are BBQ competitors as well, so they understands what a team needs at the competition, and also knows the flavor profiles that the teams are looking for. That is why their sauce is great, on it’s own, for the competitions, or for home. Go to greenmountaingrills.com to find a GMG dealer that carries Pitmaster BBQ Sauce.
We have been lucky enough to get hooked up with a great wood company, Baxter’s Original. Mike Baxter is also a BBQ guy, and knows exactly what teams are looking for in quality of wood. I have dealt with other wood providers, in the past, and I can honestly say, the quality of wood offered by Baxter’s Original is the best quality I have seen, and the customer service is tops. Please check out Baxter’s website, where they offer all types of BBQ necessaries. www.baxtersoriginal.com
We here at Hogs Gone Wild BBQ team are very pleased with being chosen to have a sponsorship association with Oakridge BBQ. We have used a couple Oakridge products in the past, and loved them. We have started using their products in all four of our competition turn-ins, and have had great results. We are looking forward to a long term relationship with the Oakridge BBQ family. Do yourself a favor and take a look at www.oakridgebbq.com to pick up some of the best rubs on the market.
If you would like to combine everything into one order, and check out some of the best products available to BBQ with, please check out our latest sponsors at pitmastersdepot.com Jay with Pit Masters Depot, is still working on his web-site, so if you would like to order anything from them, including GMG products, please contact me, and I will let you know how to get what you need. Jay is adding plenty of products to their innovatory, and will truly be a one stop shopping destination for all BBQ’ers.
I will be announcing a new sponsor here in the next week or two, we are very excited about this sponsor. All I can say, at this moment is, if you want to take your pork to the next level, this will help you get there!!! A truly amazing product!!!!
There are so many folks, I could not even think of listing them all here, BBQ folks are the salt of the
earth, and at times, refer to one another as family. I know, by personal experience, that when you are
out at a competition site, you may have forgotten something, or a piece of equipment has failed, do not
panic, many folks will be glad to step up and give you a hand, I have done it myself. Now I’m not
saying you should show up empty handed and expect everyone to pitch in and give you everything for
your cook, someone may just put you out on your ear if you try that, but I am saying that BBQ folks
like to help. Helping, isn’t that what we are all here to do? Look at all the relief efforts BBQ folks have
organized and executed, just recently for the tornado victims throughout the U.S.A., there were BBQ
folks lined up to help. Having a good time, sharing life with those you care about, and making the most
of the short time we have here, and for me BBQ is one big way I can achieve what I am looking for in
life, happiness. After all, in the end, all we have are memories; make as many as you can.
We had a great time at the Eagle Lake Competition this past weekend. Thanks to Jim Elser and his team for putting on a great event, we will be back next year.
I will have an article about this fun event in the National BBQ News, but I wanted to take a minute to congratulate the winners, Team Unknown BBQ on their GC at this event. While I was cooking and making my turn-ins, I felt good about what we were turning in, until I had the opportunity to taste Team Unknown’s pork, oh my!!!! That was some good pork, all I can say is these guys definitely earn every score they get at any competitions. Great job Unknown!!!
Also, a huge congrats to Terry McKay at Git-R-Smoked and a strong RGC. Take a look at the scores below, and you will see how high the scores at this event were. These teams have cooking BBQ down, and can compete with the best in the country. Great job Terry.
We (Hogs Gone Wild BBQ) had some good scores, and some middle of the road scores. We took a 3rd on ribs, and between us and 1st places was less then one point, some great scores.
Please enjoy some fun photos from this great event.
|3||Whiskey Bent BBQ||769.51666||192.2167||194.3333||190.0833||192.8833|
|5||United Pork Smokers||764.16665||192.1833||184.7833||193.8167||193.3833|
|6||Big Papa’s Country Kitchen||763.29999||193.6000||189.5833||192.6500||187.4667|
|9||Smokin’ Pink BBQ||756.54999||191.5167||182.9833||194.1167||187.9333|
|10||Red Raymond’s BBQ||755.94998||194.0166||189.1167||186.9500||185.8667|
|11||J & J Bar-B-Que||754.41664||188.1833||183.8667||196.4333||185.9333|
|12||Palm Beach Porkers||752.83333||188.1833||182.1667||196.2167||186.2667|
|14||Hogs Gone Wild||749.91665||189.1333||195.7667||183.9333||181.0833|
|15||All Racked Up BBQ||749.83334||196.1833||193.1333||177.8333||182.6833|
|17||Cedar Creek BBQ||748.89998||194.3667||187.4500||180.1167||186.9667|
|18||The Woodhouse Grill||748.68333||181.3333||186.7333||189.3833||191.2333|
|19||Smokin Blue Q||748.55001||192.6000||185.5667||189.1000||181.2833|
|22||Smokin’ J’s Florida||739.65000||184.1667||182.6000||189.3000||183.5833|
|23||Kings Burgers & BBQ||737.71667||182.7667||189.8667||181.9333||183.1500|
|24||Shanty Town BBQ||737.44999||191.5000||182.6667||181.0167||182.2667|
|25||Florida Skin And Bones||733.26671||194.7667||182.3167||176.1000||180.0833|
|28||Too Talls Cook Shack||721.36667||187.7167||180.4167||184.5000||168.7333|
|30||Mean Green Cooking Machine||516.58332||170.6500||168.5333||177.4000||0.0000|
|1||All Racked Up BBQ||196.18332|
|3||Florida Skin And Bones||194.76668|
|4||Cedar Creek BBQ||194.36666|
|5||Red Raymond’s BBQ||194.01665|
|6||Big Papa’s Country Kitchen||193.59999|
|9||Smokin Blue Q||192.60000|
|10||Whiskey Bent BBQ||192.21667|
|3||Hogs Gone Wild||195.76666|
|4||Whiskey Bent BBQ||194.33333|
|5||All Racked Up BBQ||193.13334|
|8||Kings Burgers & BBQ||189.86667|
|9||Big Papa’s Country Kitchen||189.58334|
|1||J & J Bar-B-Que||196.43332|
|2||Palm Beach Porkers||196.21666|
|5||Smokin’ Pink BBQ||194.11666|
|7||United Pork Smokers||193.81667|
|8||Big Papa’s Country Kitchen||192.64999|
|4||United Pork Smokers||193.38332|
|6||Whiskey Bent BBQ||192.88333|
|9||The Woodhouse Grill||191.23332|
It has been a while since I have just sat do and wrote about, BBQ and all that means to me. I have been busy, like the most of us, keeping up with, real life duties, ie, Family, Job & Life as a whole. After a while the competition scene, gets put on the back burner, literally. Unless you are one of the lucky few that can do competition BBQ for a living, this is something that happens to all teams, from time to time. When this happens to a team, it puts you off your game. It is no secret, the teams that consistently win, compete the most. Sure there are times where a surprise team will come in, and take the competition, on any given weekend, but for the most part, the winning teams are going to be the seasoned professional.
Living here in Florida, definitely has it’s advantages, when it comes to cooking BBQ. Minus a hurricane, or two, we can pretty much BBQ year around. The FBA (Florida Barbecue Association) competition schedule starts by the second week of January, and runs well into December. The biggest break is normally during the middle of summer, July & August, just too hot to be spending a long amount of time outside. Throw in a couple of KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) events, a Sam’s club event, and even shoot across the border into Georgia, and try out a GBA (Georgia Barbecue Association) or an MBN (Memphis Barbecue Network) and there is a BBQ competition darn near every weekend of the year. Folks up north are just digging their cookers out of the snow, and FBA teams already have 3-4 competitions in for the year. It would be save to say, the competition here is very tough, and some of the best teams in the nation cook here in Florida, but not all of us are lucky enough to get after it every weekend. How can we close the gap, and be able to compete with these teams? Teams like mine, that usually hit the scores in about the middle of the field at many competitions, have to try and make up ground by practice cooks, by judging competitions and by attending the occasional class put on by a BBQ expert. All are great ways to make up a little ground on the super teams. Nothing will make up for real world experience, but practice and more practice will help to keep pace with the other teams.
Practice cooks will help a team on many levels. It helps to try out those flavor profiles, and to get down the cooking times for each category. Getting familiar with the cooker that you will be competing on helps, and we even go as far as practicing boxing as we would for turn-in. I really enjoy doing practice cooks, and it really helps my confidence level, going into a competition. The one problem I have is, finding volunteers to eat all the BBQ. When I started BBQ I never thought this would be a problem, but after years of forcing BBQ on my family, to critique, they go running for the hills at the first sign of smoke. I’m glad I have a lot of folks at my real job who are still BBQ fans. My wife gladly helps me pack all the BBQ up, to take to work and offer up to all my friends.
In my opinion, judging is a great way to up your BBQ awareness. You will get the best bang for your buck through judging. If the competition you will be judging is a local one, all you have to do (once your a certified judge) is show up and eat some BBQ. Normally a judge will need to contact the event organizer to get on the list to judge, but judging is a good time, and great information that many cook teams will not experience. I have heard many cook teams ask, “What the hell was that judge thinking?”. What better what to find out then by setting at the table while food is being judged. While the actual judging is going on, judges are not allowed to commit on the entries, but after all scores have been recorded, judges are free to discuss the entries they have sampled. So not only has the judge experienced what 5-6 other teams have turned in, but they also get to participate in a discussion on what the judges liked or did not like about these entries. I have been privileged enough to judge at a few competitions, and I can honestly say, I have learned something at each judging. I think each cook team should really try to judge at least one competition, if only to experience the other side of competition BBQ, that most teams do not see. I also think judges should try to cook with a cook team, if possible. Great knowledge comes from experience, so get out there and experience as much BBQ as you can!!! It will not only be beneficial to you and your team, but to the sport of BBQ as a whole.
One very popular way for many teams to help them keep up with or over take the competition is by taking BBQ classes given by BBQ experts. This has been an option that has been growing in popularity over the past 5+ years. Many BBQ professionals have recognized that there is a great market for their skills, and classes are filling up across the country. Classes have seen cook teams travel from out of state & even from out of the country, to attend their, not to mention putting out hundreds of dollars. I am a fan of these classes, and have been to one organized class from; Dana and Janet Hillis, of Big Papa‘s Country Kitchen. For more information, on Dana’s class, please visit the FBA sight HERE contact information is listed in the competition schedule under; Big Papa’s Competition BBQ School – Naples, FL.
I have known Dana & Janet Hillis, for a couple of years now, from the BBQ circuit. I saw them walking to the stage, a lot, before we were able to meet personally. We were lucky enough to set up next to them at a competition in Sebring, FL a couple years ago, and they were very welcoming, and helpful. Us being the new team, Dana & Janet were happy to lend a hand, and give advice. Dana was so excited to try out and give us his opinion on our food, and it really helped, we got three calls that competition, and came very close to getting a GC, (tanked one category). I knew that if Dana ever came out with a class, I would take it. We took Dana’s first class in the summer of 2012, and we had a great time. My team has not won a GC since taking Dana’s class, but it has kept us competitive in a very talented field of BBQ cooks, around the Central Florida area. So, look around for a class that best suits you, and sign up for it. They do vary in price a bit, I have seen some that run about $150 for a one day class to $700-$800 for a two day class. Most classes will give a discount for folks who would like to bring their spouse to the class, as well. Many classes offer a fine dinner, cooked by your host, and plenty of goodies in your team bag. Sponsors are happy to give some sample products for folks in the classes to try out, because they know these are folks that are going to be doing BBQ for a long time, and could be a future long term customer. Another plus for taking a class is, not only do you get to see what a true Pitmaster does to compete in BBQ, but there is opportunity to meet some other great BBQ folks, who are there to take the class. A lot of discussion about procedures and other secrets, are normally shared during these classes, even amongst the students. I know we had a great time at the class we took, and will do it again. I also feel that we learned a lot during the class, and it was money well spent.
These are in my opinion, three ways to up your game as a professional BBQ cook team. I know there are more schools out there, and a few that are on-line or CD classes. I hope to be able to check them out, one day, and be able to render an opinion on them as well, but for now this is all the first hand experiences I have.
It is not easy to keep up with the “super” teams, and it is even more difficult to know just, “what the hell was that judge was thinking?”. I have heard it many times on the competition trail, it has a lot to do with luck, and that is very true, to a point. Luck does play a part in, which tables your entries land on, and which judges are at that table, and even which competitor’s entries are at the same table as your entry. Those are things you, as a cook team can not control, but what you can control is, the quality of BBQ you choose to turn in at any given contest. You and you alone will decide what your flavor profile should be, if your entry is cook to your liking, how you want to arrange your box for turn-in, sauce or no sauce, these are examples of things with in your realm of circumstances that you can control at a BBQ competition. The best thing we can do as cooks is to make the most informed decisions that we can make, this will help us with our performance at a BBQ competition. The best way to make a sound informed decision is by educating our selves as much as possible. Please go out and get involved with competition BBQ, if you can’t cook on a given weekend, go judge an event. Volunteer some time to a organization in your area, I know they would love the help. This is all good stuff to help our sport grow, and when competition BBQ grows, it’s good for all of us. I think I will take some of my own advice, time for a brisket practice cook. Thanks all and God bless!!!
The BBQ season is well underway here in Florida, and this past weekends event in Winter Haven, is one of the biggest FBA events of the entire year. Since 2005 The Boy’s and Girl’s Club in Winter Haven, FL has hosted this event. Smoke On The Water (SOTW) has be a great fund raiser for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, and an event that attracts some of the best teams from the Southeastern United States. Frank Csomos, the contest organizer has done a great job, not only organizing top entertainment for the visitors to this event, but he also knows how to take care of the cook teams. That keeps top teams coming back year after year, to compete in this event. It is a tough one to get into, (trust me I know, I’m still on the waiting list) but once your in, you are in for a great event, every year.
This year, Frank and his team had even more to overcome, some scum sucking vandals, tore out all the electrics a couple of months before this event. The organizing team, thought that may have shut down the event for the year, but it was too important to the Boy’s and Girl’s to just let this event slip away. So, they dug in their heels, and got the job done, in time to host SOTW. Great job to Frank, and his entire team.
It is always great to see friends walk in a category, and be rewarded for their efforts. It’s even better when they get called last, and that is how we feel about Whiskey Bent BBQ taking Grand Champion at 2013 SOTW!!! It is a well deserved win for Chad Ward and Jared Hatcher, of team Whiskey Bent BBQ, and joining them for this event, our good friend from All Racked Up BBQ, David Kimbrough.
We are lucky to be very good friends with this years Reserve Grand Champions, as well. Dana & Janet Hillis, of Big Poppa’s Country Kitchen. When you see the Big Poppa’s battle wagon pulling into a contest, you know it’s time to step up you game. Dana and Janet are just great folks, always welcoming, and fun to be around. But, don’t let that fool you, they know how to cook, and they are there to win!!! If you want to learn how to cook like Big Poppa, check out his cooking school, Biggi (my wife) and I did. Email Dana at: firstname.lastname@example.org for upcoming dates.
The last mention I have for this event goes out to our great friend, Shawn, from Boca Barbecue. I have taken up Shawn’s invitation to cook with him at this event the past two years, and I have had a great time both years. Shawn and I have cook together on many occasions, and normally have good results. Shawn normally competes as a one man team, and many times placing within the top teams, at any event. Boca Barbecue is still looking for his first GC, but with the great tasting food he puts out, I know he will get it. Shawn is a great friend, and I am proud to cook with him any time, any where!!! Thanks for having me out, Shawn!!!
Pro Division Overall;
|1||Whiskey Bent BBQ||769.71665||192.9000||187.4667||195.5167||193.8333|
|2||Big Papa‘s Country Kitchen||766.01665||180.6667||193.6333||192.4333||199.2833|
|3||Uncle Kenny’s BBQ||764.24998||195.0833||186.4500||195.0667||187.6500|
|7||Fatt Ashes BBQ||761.29998||185.8333||195.7667||190.2833||189.4167|
|9||Forrest’s Fine Foods||757.63332||192.1500||187.8833||189.8500||187.7500|
|12||Good Buddies BBQ||756.28333||193.6000||185.6000||192.2000||184.8833|
|14||Kick the Tire, Light the Fire||751.86668||185.1500||192.0000||191.2667||183.4500|
|15||Wooley Bully BBQ||751.63332||189.8167||193.6000||182.3500||185.8667|
|16||Divine Swine BBQ Team||749.65000||181.5667||186.7833||187.9500||193.3500|
|17||Git R Smoked||749.21664||178.9833||188.4333||183.9167||197.8833|
|18||Florida Skin And Bones||748.91666||189.0667||180.7333||194.8000||184.3167|
|19||FBA Black Sheep BBQ||747.99998||194.7500||181.2500||191.2500||180.7500|
|20||All Fired Up And Kicking Ash||746.61664||188.8333||180.3000||181.2667||196.2167|
|21||Bubba Chuck BBQ||744.94999||191.9500||189.1500||179.9167||183.9333|
|23||SHO GUD Barbecue||744.53333||183.6333||186.0333||189.1167||185.7500|
|24||Sweet Smoke Q||743.06667||190.1000||191.9667||187.2833||173.7167|
|25||Big Bad Wolfe BBQ||742.06666||185.3833||182.5000||185.0500||189.1333|
|26||The Woodhouse Grill||741.89999||188.9000||174.5333||187.2333||191.2333|
|27||Wolfe Brothers BBQ||741.16668||191.5167||185.5833||187.4500||176.6167|
|30||Jack’s Old South||736.39999||176.6833||181.2167||190.5167||187.9833|
|31||Collision Course BBQ||728.08333||188.8333||195.0500||176.7167||167.4833|
|33||Kathleen Road Kill||726.16665||190.0667||174.1333||183.2667||178.7000|
|35||Great Lakes BBQ Feed Company||723.34998||184.0500||179.3167||183.4833||176.5000|
|36||Texas Ribs & BBQ||721.13333||179.4167||175.2833||189.5667||176.8667|
|37||Shanty Town BBQ||720.01665||184.1667||178.8833||178.7167||178.2500|
|38||Smokin’ J’s Florida||717.03332||175.0500||179.9833||182.2167||179.7833|
|40||Kick Yo’ Butt||712.26667||180.3167||179.4000||183.3500||169.2000|
|42||The BBQ Shack||709.46665||178.7000||177.2000||180.6667||172.9000|
|43||J Mack Cookers||708.96665||183.5000||177.1500||177.7167||170.6000|
|44||Pork Brothers BBQ||708.96665||176.1833||182.4500||172.8000||177.5333|
|45||Team Low Rent||708.70000||181.7500||175.9167||174.8833||176.1500|
|46||Pharter Starter’s BBQ Team||708.39999||181.2833||171.3500||178.1000||177.6667|
|47||Squeals on Wheels||701.21665||174.2833||178.2667||165.5667||183.1000|
|50||Two Crackers Cookin||695.28332||181.2333||171.8833||171.1000||171.0667|
|51||Lazy J Barbecue||689.24999||170.7500||176.2833||176.7833||165.4333|
|53||Lucky Dawg’s BBQ||677.81667||164.3500||187.7167||164.1667||161.5833|
|54||J Smith’s Texas BBQ||669.50002||172.2333||170.3833||161.9000||164.9833|
|55||Sioux City Steaks||666.89998||178.8333||159.6000||161.9000||166.5667|
|56||Smokin Jim’s BBQ||646.50000||173.3833||154.8833||164.1667||154.0667|
|3||Uncle Kenny’s BBQ||195.08332|
|4||FBA Black Sheep BBQ||194.74999|
|6||Good Buddies BBQ||193.60000|
|9||Whiskey Bent BBQ||192.89999|
|1||Fatt Ashes BBQ||195.76666|
|2||Collision Course BBQ||195.05000|
|3||Big Papa’s Country Kitchen||193.63333|
|4||Wooley Bully BBQ||193.59999|
|5||Kick the Tire, Light the Fire||192.00000|
|6||Sweet Smoke Q||191.96667|
|10||Bubba Chuck BBQ||189.14999|
|2||Whiskey Bent BBQ||195.51666|
|4||Uncle Kenny’s BBQ||195.06666|
|5||Florida Skin And Bones||194.79999|
|7||Big Papa’s Country Kitchen||192.43332|
|8||Good Buddies BBQ||192.19999|
|1||Big Papa’s Country Kitchen||199.28332|
|2||Git R Smoked||197.88332|
|4||All Fired Up And Kicking Ash||196.21666|
|5||Whiskey Bent BBQ||193.83334|
|6||Divine Swine BBQ Team||193.34999|
|9||The Woodhouse Grill||191.23333|
|10||Fatt Ashes BBQ||189.41666|
|1||Fat Bastard BBQ||718.83333||181.6167||183.0333||174.8667||179.3167|
|2||Jamkin Me Hungry||717.10000||172.0167||194.7167||177.9500||172.4167|
|3||Fired N Wired||716.35002||182.2500||182.0167||186.7000||165.3833|
|4||Second Hand Smoke||713.78333||171.3500||174.0500||180.4833||187.9000|
|5||Rub Me Tender||700.68335||173.2000||167.3667||176.5000||183.6167|
|6||Two Breasts and a Butt||692.03334||175.9833||160.9000||179.5833||175.5667|
|7||Back Country BBQ||690.53335||181.2667||167.4333||173.8833||167.9500|
|9||Awada B Smokin||688.58332||174.5667||165.1833||169.0667||179.7667|
|10||After Ours BBQ||681.51665||177.4333||164.2000||184.0500||155.8333|
|12||Uncle Chubby’s Backyard BBQ||674.39999||171.8500||155.3833||175.0000||172.1667|
|14||Third Generation BBQ||668.60000||167.2500||176.1833||161.8333||163.3333|
|16||Triple R BBQ||661.76667||174.8333||167.5833||169.1667||150.1833|
|17||Corkys Turn 3 BBQ||656.60002||158.5500||173.5333||169.3833||155.1333|
|18||Father Son Holy Smokers||641.13334||174.0000||145.3667||160.8833||160.8833|