Whiskey Bent BBQ, an interview with Chad Ward


I couldn’t think of a better way to start this post, then by sharing this great Whiskey Bent BBQ logo with everyone. It is a very eye catching logo, looks great on shirts also.

I have known the guys from Whiskey Bent BBQ for about 1 1/2 years now, Chad Ward in particular. Chad has been a huge factor in my team getting to where we are today in the BBQ world. I have heard Chad say, on many occasions, the more teams we get involved in competition BBQ to better for all of us, and I think Chad just enjoyed mentoring as well.

Chad is a very busy man, and we were lucky enough he took a few minutes out of his packed schedule to grant us here at Let’s Talk Hog an interview, and we thank him for that.

Chad not only travels quite at bit for BBQ, but for his personal live as well, but some how, Chad has found time to meet and get engaged to his lovely fiance Nicole Nugent. Chad and Nicole are a great BBQ combination as well, and she is always there to support him.

Nicole & Chad, at 2011 Lakeland Pigfest

Another event that keeps Chad very busy is his weekly radio show. Chad is the host of “In The Pit” radio show. Chad has done 8 show’s so far, and I have heard all of them, and he does a great job!!! “In The Pit”, is a wealth of BBQ information on it’s own. Chad always has guest on his show, who are at the top of their game in the BBQ world. If you listen to his show, I mean really listen, not getting up to get another beer (bring the cooler into the den), playing with the dog or talking on the phone (all of which I have been guilty of), you WILL hear some BBQ secrets come out on the air!!! Heck, I have heard Chad ask his guest before, ” you got any secrets you would like to give up?’, and 9 out of 10 guests will give up a secret or two!!!! Free competition BBQ secrets, it just doesn’t get any better than that!!! Be sure to tune into “In The Pit” every Tuesday at 7pm EST, at http://www.blogtalkradio.com and look for “In The Pit”. If you miss the live show, downloads are available on I-Tunes, very easy to download and listen to where ever you may be, or you can just go to http://www.WhiskeyBentBBQ.com. All shows are listed there for your convenience.

Now for Let’s Talk Hog, interview with Chad Ward, Pitmaster from Whiskey Bent BBQ.

LTH: First I would like to say thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.

Chad: Thanks for the opportunity.

LTH: I guess the best place to start is at the beginning. How did you start in BBQ, and when did you form your team?

Chad: We formed our team in August of 2007. The reason for forming was that were all getting busier with life, and wanted to have something where we could ensure that “the guys” still got together 4-6 weekends a year. Jared had just inherited a catering smoker from his Grandfather, we found a couple backyard events, that weren’t too far away, and we started our journey.

The cooker that started it all.

LTH: That leads me into my next question. Who all makes up the Whiskey Bent BBQ team?

Chad: Jared Hatcher and I founded the team along with Chris Thomas and Jeremy Noles, as original team members that are still with us. In the process of competing we also picked up Matt Vann, off waivers from Good Buddies BBQ. It cost us a gallon of Blues Hog and a bottle of Boone’s Farm. It was pricey, but he is worth it! :)

LTH: Nice pick-up there Chad!!!

LTH: That brings up a good topic for the next question. What is your BBQ Competition adult beverage of choice?

Chad: On Friday’s, we have a shot or two of Palm Reserve Whiskey before the cooks meeting, and then just coast on Natural Light’s. On Saturday, it is still Natty Light’s until that brisket turn-in is complete. After that it is Palm Ridge Reserve with a splash on Diet, until after awards!

LTH: What is your BBQ Competition Music of choice?

Chad: It is all over the board here! It could go from Boys II Men when we are massaging the chicken before marinade, to Hall and Oates on Saturday morning when we are laying out the game plan, to Rapper’s Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang when we are cleaning up and getting ready for awards. One thing that is always a constant is the 7:00am wake up music on Saturday morning that we shigged (took the idea from another team) from our good friend, Glenn Jarrett of the team, She Thinks My Slabs are Sexy. Nothing says wake up and do this, like the bagpipe version of Amazing Grace!

LTH: What, or who, was a big help to you when you started competition BBQ?

Chad: We actually went into our first contest blind with no idea of what competitive BBQ was really about. After getting embarrassed with a 7th out of 9 teams, and losing to a Boy Scout troop, we bought Chatham Artillery’s online book to at least get some idea. We also started looking at the BBQ Brethren. By far the most assistance we recived starting up was from our great friend, Rob “Rub” Bagby of Swamp Boys BBQ. There aren’t many cooks as successful and friendly as Rub, and he has been great with helping us improve. His class is a strong recommendation!

To check out Rob Bagby’s class, go to http://www.swampboys.com

Chad Ward & Rob Bagby, talking BBQ at Venice, FL competition

LTH: What is one thing or event, that has touched you personally within the world of BBQ?

Chad: I wouldn’t say there is one thing or event that stands out but just the overall aspect of the competition BBQ community. There isn’t a better group of people that we would rather be associated with. They are so giving and compassionate, but at the same time competitive. It is unique and we are happy to be a part of the community.

Pork for a charity event, hosted by Whiskey Bent BBQ

LTH: Who would be your dream person to cook BBQ with?

Chad: My dream person to cook BBQ with would be John Marcus, so that he could spend a weekend with our team and realize that he has been missing the boat the last two years, by not having us on BBQ Pitmasters! :)

Just a few trophys earned by WBBBQ....HEY, DON'T TOUCH THE SIGN!!!

LTH: What is one thing on your BBQ bucket list?

Chad: The one thing on the BBQ bucket list is, to win Lakeland Pig Festival! This is our hometown contest, and we can remember it since it started. Based on the size it is now, and the teams that come from all over the country, we think it would be pretty cool for these hometown boys to walk away with the GC!

WBBBQ set up at Lakeland Pig Fest, 2011

Chad wearing his awards, Pig Fest 2011. Who's that? Get-R-Smoked!!!

LTH: I know Whiskey Bent BBQ has traveled to other states outside of Florida to compete. How many states have y’all competed in?

Chad: We have competed in 10 states in 2 years. Those range from Nevada to Missouri to Delaware.

LTH: In your travels to compete in other states, have you noticed a difference in preferred flavor profiles by the judges throughout different BBQ regions?

Chad: We have noticed a small difference in some of the states, but nothing that is really totally different than what we do down here. There are definitely some differences, but we try not to vary too significantly from our usual script.

LTH: Do you have any classes going on, and if so, how can folks sign up?

Chad: We are currently teaching classes at The Rolling Pin Emporium in Brandon, FL. It is a 2 hour class on a Friday or Saturday night. We cook an appetizer, main course, side dish and dessert. The entry fee includes the 3 course meal and beer or house wine, for a very reasonable rate.

We also offer private competition lessons, either at our place or at a competition. We have been very fortunate to have had the chance to assist our friends Hogs Gone Wild BBQ, Swinos BBQ and All Racked Up BBQ, with this type of instruction. If you are interested, please contact us at whiskeybentbbq@gmail.com or through Facebook or Twitter.

Chad with Pig Jam, backyard GC Swinos BBQ

Chad, teaching at The Rolling Pin Emporium

LTH: What is on the competition schedule for Whiskey Bent BBQ for 2012?

Chad: The competition schedule is looking like 12-15 contest this year. We don’t have them all planned out yet, but we are going back to the Ron Cate’s USA Barbecue Championship in Las Vegas, and also plan on competing for the Ohio Triple Crown again this year.

LTH: What are your long term goals, as far as BBQ, for you and your team?

Chad: We just want to continue to improve and see where it takes us. We feel that the competitive BBQ market is growing, and it is pretty impressive, considering the state of the economy. As it grows, we want to make sure that we are in a position to do our part to continue pressing our team and the community in a positive direction!

LTH: Any sponsors you would like to give a shout out to?

Chad: We are very fortunate to have very supportive sponsors and they are: Green Mountain Grills, Kosmo’s Q, Magnify Credit Union, Pate Media Group, Custom Signs & Graphics, 3Eyz BBQ rub, No-Tie Aprons, Kebroak Charcoal, Big Mista’s Perfect Pork Rub, Texas Pepper Jelly, Great Lakes BBQ Supply and Rooftop BBQ Sauce.

I would like to thank Chad Ward again for his time, and a look into his BBQ life at Whiskey Bent BBQ. Please join us here at “Let’s Talk Hog” in wishing Chad and his team the best of luck on their BBQ trail in 2012.

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