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A day with the Pitmasters

Commemorative Hawg with a Heart to raise funds for Operation BBQ Relief

More News

How do you follow Real BBQ?
Go from Pig Pickin’ to Pigskin

Special to the National Barbecue News

Kicking off the New Year with college bowl games, the national championship, and the Super Bowl?

Recall the 4th grader last year who gave the sensational award winning speech on “Real BBQ: An Elusive Meat”? Well, Sloan Finger took his Pig Pickin’ talents and applied them to the Pigskin this time, placing 2nd in the Hawks Rise Elementary School Tropicana Speech Contest.

Last year, his efforts quickly became an internet and media sensation after he was first featured in the National Barbecue News ( ).

Broadcast TV affiliates then picked up the story and ran blurbs from Atlanta to Charlotte to St. Louis to Kansas City; print and social media was abuzz with his explanations and proclamations of what constitutes Real BBQ. In this year’s competition, Sloan speaks to his personal experience in playing “four years of competitive tackle football.” His pigskin journey is titled “Victory Scars,” and takes a few twists and turns speaking to a sport, an American past-time, that has been hit, pun intended, with controversy the last few years.

“You hear it all the time, football is a dangerous sport,” he begins, “But like the old flea-flicker play, things aren’t always as they appear!” Well, sit down with a “tender and juicy piece of pulled pork” as he exclaimed last year and watch to see exactly what his point is this year on our website at

Then you too can enjoy the “game’s after-party.”

Photo courtesy of Jeff Finger

Photo courtesy of Jeff Finger

Barbecue town hall meeting attracts owners, pitmasters to Texas A&M
Meat price outlook, carcass grading, cuts discussed

By Blair Fannin

COLLEGE STATION, December 16, 2015 – Low corn prices are helping to produce more pounds of meat, whether it’s beef, pork or chicken, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist.

That’s good news for barbecue restaurant owners who continue to purchase and smoke thousands of pounds of meat to satisfy a growing demand for Texas barbecue.

As a whole, meat prices are coming down from 2014 levels, especially beef, said Dr. David Anderson, speaking at the recent town hall meeting for Texas barbecue owners, managers and pitmasters held at Texas A&M University in College Station.

“We still have pretty tight supplies of cattle even though we’ve seen prices come down,” Anderson said. “A year ago we were talking about record-high cattle and retail beef prices, that we needed rain to break drought conditions before herd expansion could kick in full force. That expansion has started, and longer-term, we are going to have a lot lower prices (as a result of more cows and calves). That’s pretty normal. The cattle industry is a cyclical industry.”

Anderson said as of Jan. 1, 2015 there were 2 percent more beef cows in the U.S. than 2014. He said by Jan. 1, 2016 there could be another 2-3 percent more beef cows.

“The idea is we are rebuilding the herd, and we have had rain. When I talk about tight supplies, 30 million beef cows, that’s still the lowest in decades. But we are starting to grow (beef herds) across the nation.”

“A year ago when you came to this meeting, we were talking about good forecasts for meat prices on the way and the prices you pay would get a little better,” said Dr. Jeff Savell, meeting coordinator and university distinguished professor, Regents Professor and E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal chairholder in the department of animal science at Texas A&M. “Well, here we are again and prices have come down.”

The town hall meeting is an extension of a series of educational workshops led by Savell and meat science department faculty to help further education in cooking Texas barbecue.

The town hall meeting attracted more than 50 barbecue professionals from across the state including representatives from Riscky’s Barbecue, Fort Worth; Pappas Bar-B-Q, Houston; Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor; Snow’s BBQ, Lexington; Southside Market and Barbeque, Elgin and Bastrop; and Roegels Barbecue, Houston. As a bonus, Savell and the meat science team provided lunch, which consisted of pit smoked beef strip loin and top sirloin, smoked front-end pork loin and homemade side dishes.

“We thought it would be nice to feed you for a change instead of you feeding us,” Savell said. “It’s a chance for use to return the favor. We like to have this as a venue, a chance to meet each other. Relationships are important.”

Dr. Davey Griffin, AgriLife Extension meats specialist, led cooler and meat cuts demonstrations. He also discussed carcass values and grading. Dr. Al Wagner, AgriLife Extension food technology specialist, provided an overview on bottling sauces for retail sale.

Anderson said corn prices, which have held around $4 a bushel, have allowed feedlot operators to put extra gain on feedlot cattle. So much in fact that carcass weights have averaged a record high 930 pounds.

“Those are huge animals,” Anderson said. “When they are averaging 930 pounds, think of what the ends look like. You have huge cuts. It’s a really interesting phenomenon going on in terms of dressed weights.

“For the last couple of months, we’ve been producing more beef than we were a year ago. We’ve been feeding them to heavier weights and getting more tonnage on markets.”

Beef production increased about 1.7 percent in the last three months of 2015, Anderson said. And by 2016, there will be 3-4 percent more beef produced and even more in 2017.

Slaughter steer prices have been averaging $125 per hundredweight compared to $158 a year ago.

“Wholesale boneless beef prices have seen sharp declines this year,” he said. “They were averaging $290 (per hundredweight)in late 2014 and are now $210 in 2015. These declines have been a heck of a lot lower than I anticipated. These are just shocking changes from a year ago.”

Brisket prices in 2015 came down considerably for Texas barbecue managers, who also offered alternative meats on their menus to compensate for the high beef prices. Brisket prices that fetched nearly $6 a pound camedown to $3.90 a pound by May.

“The crunch of tight supplies of cattle as a result of drought and low cattle numbers drove us to those high prices we saw last year,” Anderson said.

Hog and pork production has recovered from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea  virus, Anderson said, and litter rates have returned to normal growth rates.

“With cheap feed, the pork industry has gone through a pretty profitable period and boosted production. We’re headed to more production and even lower prices for pork.”
With wholesale pork loin prices at 85 cents a pound, Anderson said consumers are giving these cuts a good look compared to higher priced beef.

“How many of you are cooking whole pork loins?” Savell asked. “It’s a good product if you keep it moist.”

Said one barbecue owner, “I bet a whole lot of us start doing it since it’s so cheap.”

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin
Pork loin was served at the recent barbecue town hall meeting at Texas A&M University.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin
Dr. Davey Griffin, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service meat specialist, cooks beef sirloin, beef strip loin and pork loin.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin
Ray Riley, manager of the Rosenthal Meat Science and Technology Center at Texas A&M University, slices beef tenderloin to serve attendees at the recent barbecue town hall meeting.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin
Dr. Jeff Savell, Texas A&M University distinguished professor, Regents Professor and E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal chairholder in the department of animal science, leads a discussion at the barbecue town hall meeting.

Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Dr. Jeff Savell
Dr. Davey, Griffin, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service meats specialist, discusses beef cuts at the barbecue town hall meeting.

PNWBA completes Inaugural Class of Hall of Fame in 2015

By Jessica Erickson

Every year when he announces awards at the Canadian Festival of Chili & BBQ in Langley, BC, Fred Roycroft takes a moment to remind the competitors why we’re there: it’s thanks to the late David and Pat Veljacic, who established this longest-running competition in the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association (PNWBA). This year, the special thanks turned into a more formal recognition for our Northwest barbecue greats as new members were inducted into the PNWBA Hall of Fame. Fred first recognized the Veljacics for their significant contributions during the seminal years of barbecue in the Northwest, particularly Dave’s service as the first PNWBA president.

PNWBA President Jane Biehl then presented Bob and Sandra Lyon with a plaque honoring their induction into the hall of fame, while Vice President Pat Maddock gave a speech recounting their impact on barbecue in the Northwest and far beyond. The speech moved a lot of the crowd to tears—not only barbecue veterans who recalled the stories he told first hand, but also new cooks who haven’t even been alive for the length of Bob and Sandra’s barbecue tenure.

The PNWBA aptly refers to Bob as “our founding father” and an “ambassador of BBQ.” When chili competitions gained popularity in the 1980s, Bob began introducing barbecue by encouraging and helping his teammate, Jim Erickson, cook and share meat with the competitors. He gained this barbecue knowledge by travelling across the country and even around the world, establishing contacts and using his experience to shape the format of competitions in the Northwest. Bob served the PNWBA as secretary for a number of years. In that role, he published the popular newspaper “Drippings from the Pit,” which had a wide readership that helped fund the PNWBA and grow its members in its formidable years. In addition to establishing this paper, he also contributed regularly as a columnist for the National Barbecue News and the Kansas City Bullsheet until he was well into his 80s!

Of course, no recognition of Bob would be complete without equally honoring his wife and fellow Hall of Fame inductee, Sandra. Her contributions go well beyond supporting and joining Bob’s travel for this crazy hobby—she herself was an active participant who made our competitions possible.  Sandra’s many years of experience as a teacher came in very handy as she took on significant responsibilities planning competitions, organizing volunteers, and ensuring accurate tabulation of ballot sheets in an amazingly efficient manner. Those in the audience who are only familiar with the new computer programs for scoring were especially impressed to hear about the massive number of ballot sheets that Sandra has hand-counted over the years.

Forever the educators, Sandra and Bob have dedicated countless hours to helping train cooks and judges—from novices to experts—to gain greater barbecue skills and appreciation. Among the many popular seminars they organized was an interactive class taught by the “Baron of Barbecue,” Paul Kirk, who flew up to Washington for a number of years for this event.

The four inductees honored at the Langley competition share a common characteristic beyond their dedication to PNWBA in its founding years: the Veljacics and Lyons established competitions that gave back to the community while remaining affordable and fun for competitors. For instance, the Lyons ran a popular barbecue and chili cookoff in Winthrop, WA, and each year donated funds to different community groups like local school bands. Similarly, the Canadian Festival of Chili and BBQ continues to keep entry fees low while still raising thousands of dollars each year to donate to the Fire Fighters Burn Fund (in honor of the late Dave Veljacic’s service as a fire fighter).

As Sandra and Bob accepted their award, they recognized many smiling faces in the audience. Fellow PNWBA Hall of Fame members Lynne Brokaw, Judie Anderson, and Ken “Sarge” Peach were all present as cooks in the chili competition and cheered on Sandra and Bob as they joined the inaugural hall of fame class (which also includes Ed Lavesque and the Veljacics). Bob’s former teammate from the “Beaver Castors,” Jim Erickson, was also at the Langley competition to help coach a new generation of barbecue cooks while personally competing in one of the side categories, the ribeye steak. Dubbed “The Road Team of the 90s” for their unprecedented success in competitions like Jack Daniels and American Royal throughout that decade, Bob and Jim have shared many travel adventures across the country. Sandra and Bob were pleased to have the support of these dear friends and founders who showed they can still cook among the best at the Langley competition—Judie won first place in chili while Jim tied for first place in the steak competition with Smokey’s Bar B Que.

2015 was a milestone year for the PNWBA as it completed its first hall of fame class. The awards ceremony at the Canadian Festival of Chili and BBQ provided the Veljacics and the Lyons with the praise that they so greatly deserve, and it gave the rest of us a chance to reflect on how fortunate we are to have such dedicated founding members and realize how far we have come thanks to their efforts.

Photo by Jessica Erickson
President Jane Biehl presents Sandra and Bob Lyon with a plaque honoring their induction into the PNWBA Hall of Fame.

Photo by Jessica EricksoN
Fred Roycroft with BC Chili Champion Judie Anderson.

Photo by Jessica EricksoN
Judie Anderson and Jim Erickson celebrate first place ribbons.

Photo by Jessica EricksoN
Jim plating what will become the winning entry for the Grill Gates Ribeye Steak Competition. (Notice the vintage apron from the 7th Canadian Festival of Chili and BBQ in 1995!)

National Barbecue News’ 2015 Rubs of Honor Winners

The Goal:
To find the BEST barbecue Rub to compliment a particular meat: CHICKEN – PORK – BEEF.

The Rules:
1)  ALL Barbecue Rubs, including those marketed in the U.S.A. or for the world market, competition teams, and backyarders, are welcome.
2) This competition will include all types of bases in the same category as we are looking for the best Rub that flavors a particular meat and will include both mild and spicy varieties.
3) Rubs must be labeled and homemade varieties must be sealed in a sterilized canning jar with a sealed lid or in a vacuum sealed bag. It does not have to be commercially produced. Any Rubs not properly sealed will be disqualified.
4) Bottles, jars, or bags must be clearly marked for the category for which it is intended - CHICKEN, PORK, OR BEEF.
5) Each entry must include 6 oz. or more of barbecue Rub for each category entered.

The Prize:
Winners will receive accolades on the pages of the National Barbecue News and website. Top 10 winners in each division will receive certificates and the Grand Champion will receive a beautiful clay model of their Rub bottle, along with certificate, done by renowned area sculpture artist Regina Coffee.

The Results:
 1) Hogs ‘N Heat Mild & Savory BBQ Rub – Hogs ‘n Heat, Inc.
  2) Memphis Barbeque Supplly Honey BBQ Rub – Memphis Barbecue Supply
  3) Krustyz All Purpose Rub – Krustyz, LLC
  4) Belly Rub – BBQ Buddha
  5) Sucklebusters Clucker Dust – Suckelbusters
  6) Memphis Barbeque Supply Shotwell BBQ Rub – Memphis Barbeque Supply
  7) Riley’s Red Rub – CRC BBQ
  8) Brotherhood of Swine BBQ Rub –  Brotherhood of Swine, LLC
  9) Eroc’s U-Betcha Poultry – Eroc’s
10) Space Dust – Astro Pigs BBQ

 1) Reaper Rub – The Smokehouse Boys
  2) Big Daddy’s Rib Rub – Big Daddy’s Q’n Crew
  3) Hogs ‘N Heat Mild & Savory BBQ Rub – Hogs ‘N Heat, Inc.
  4) Kay Brown’s BBQ Rub – Jorge Canavati
  5) Eroc’s U Betcha Smoky Maple – Eroc’s
  6) Krustyz All Purpose Rub – Krustyz, LLC
  7) Brotherhood of Swine BBQ Rub – Brotherhood of Swine, LLC
  8) Rib Rub Ready to Mix – BBQ’n Fools
  9) Memphis Barbeque Supply Honey BBQ Rub – Memphis Barbeque Supply
10) Sucklebusters Hog Waller –

 1) Signature Montreal BBQ Rub – BBQ’n Fools
  2) Eroc’s U-Betcha Beef – Eroc’s
  3) Grant’s Blend Magic Dust – BBQ’n Fools
  4) West Texas Oil Dust – West Texas Oilees
  5) Sucklebusters SPG BBQ Rub – Sucklebusters
  6) Riley’s Smoky and Bold – CRC BBQ
  7) Fireman’s Brisket Rub – Ed Bryant
  8) Krystyz All Purpose Rub – Krustyz, LLC
  9) Rescue Rub – Company 7 BBQ
10) Bar-B-Que South Beef Rub – Mike Carter

Maverick and The BBQ Equipment Store combine efforts for to raise $$$ for OBR

By Darren Keller
Maverick Industries

The idea started this past March on a cold, icy night in Nashville, TN, at the NBBQA Convention. My BBQ competition teammates from 5-0 BBQ, owners of The BBQ Equipment Store, were with me. We had a booth outside, but it had snowed the day before and attendance outside the convention was dismal. Everyone in attendance stayed inside. We had hauled a bunch of instant-read thermometers to sell at the convention and decided to drum up business by offering one-half of the sale there to Operation BBQ Relief (OBR). The goal was to stay busy and to not bring back any thermometers...and we were successful. The next day at the HPBA Expo, also in Nashville, we presented Stan Hays of OBR with a couple hundred dollars from that sale.

From there we had a conversation on how we could do more for OBR, and a plan was “hatched.” Here is the result: We have put the OBR logo on our very popular ET-732 Remote Thermometer. For each unit sold, Maverick will donate $2.50 and The BBQ Equipment Store will also donate $2.50 to OBR. That is a total of $5.00 going to OBR for each of these units sold. This special unit is only available from The BBQ Equipment Store. You can find them online at Get yours today and help support OBR!

A Tribute to John Raven, a Barbecue Original

By Bob Lyon

One of the Barbecue Originals, John Raven, died recently.  In 2012 I received an email from him congratulating us both for still being around. Fitting tributes are his commentary and a republication of the January 2007 article about John unearthed by our find-everything recorder, Melissa Lott.

John’s email commentary
December 9, 2012

Bob Lyon:
I was wondering the other day if you was still around.. Apparently you are. Tween the two of us, we have been photoed with most of the BBQ elite.

My last outing was Labor Day when I went down to Uvalde, Texas for 40th anniversary of first BBQ cook-off. There were four briskets on the table that made the trip worthwhile.  

Barbecue competition is now like all the rest of our “hobbies.” It is an exercise on seeing how much money you can spend.  

You done good to get 25 years in with the National Barbecue News. I got 24-1/2 in with Goat Gap Gazette before I got fired.

I’ve got near 13 years in over at I dunno what has happened over there. They won’t communicate with me and other than putting up more advertising they have done nothing with the site in over six months.

I still turn out a page for the “Luckenbach Moon” every month.  

In my dotage I have took up video making.  Last year at the Austin Film Festival I was first runner up in the Texas Monthly short film contest. I have a new video that will be on the market shortly.

I hang pretty close to the ranch. Got about everything I want within 30-mile radius of me.

Keep up whatever you can keep up. Glad to know you.

Commissioner of Barbecue

Helping Remus Powers with John Raven
Reprint of the January 2007 article

In the May issue of the Bull Sheet, Ardie Davis recounted his meeting with John Raven, a Texas Chili and BBQ legend, at Louis Mueller’s barbecue house in Taylor, TX.  I first met John in Taylor in 1988 at Bob Roberts’ Taylor International BBQ Competition.  Bob had taken me to the same barbecue houses Ardie mentioned in his article plus a few more.  One of the great photos I have is of John and me with Bill Bridges, author of the Great American Chili Book, a compendium of eating chili recipes rather than competition types.  John and I visited, judged, exchanged letters, even traded insults in the Goat Gap Gazette.

John’s original judging system copyrighted in 1983 preceded KCBS’s by two years.  It’s like chili scoring, based on a 10 point holistic system taking in five criteria including smoky smell, something cooks baking meat in foil at competitions nowadays would have a hard time getting any credit for.  It called for enough meat in a container for a preliminary and a final judging.  Turn-ins were two meats every half hour: brisket, pork (any kind including ribs) cabrito, lamb, wild game, seafood and chicken.  Judges were warned to take only one shrimp, since the most popular seafood item was gulf shrimp.  His 10-5-3 scoring system for 100 cooks or so made it a bit tough for anybody to win without at least one first place.  Taylor had no cash awards but marvelous trophies for the top three places.  There were a dozen or more judging tables for each category for preliminaries, with the top two at each making finals.  Most teams didn’t enter all categories. During the time when a barbecue committee of the Puget Pod offered competition at some chili cookoffs, Jack Perrault went to John’s last Tournament of Champions in Temple, TX, and took first-place sauce.  Dave and Pat Veljacic and Fred and Betty Roycroft competed twice as well at Taylor in the early 90’s.  By then they were giving ribbons but not points for places 4-10.      

My ambition was actually to get John to cook barbecue in competition.  I couldn’t pin him down until I checked back issues of the GGG to find events in which he had competed and placed so I could shame him into it.  We finally settled on a brisket contest at Welfare, TX just out of San Antonio on I-10 in July of 1992.  They were offering a $5000 grand prize, won by Paul Kirk the previous year.  Besides entering the overall contest, John and I would do a head-to-head using his International Barbecue Society system, the same one used at Taylor.  This was because in the main contest, there would be so many entries and judging tables using the KCBS system.  There would be four entries, two of which would be from other cooks.  It would be run by Bob Roberts.  It took two tries to reach a verdict.  John prevailed on the second set of judges, although we were both beaten by Dawn Keller, who also placed third overall in the main contest.  John liked to brag that he had beaten both Paul and me on the same day, since his overall result was ahead of Paul’s.  I reminded him that I finished way ahead of him in the overall contest.

John was the head judge for the first-ever Head-to-Head contest in Terlingua in 2001.  Bob Roberts, Jerry Fugate, Eddie Lankford and a large group of the Taylor BBQ gang started the contest and continued it for 10 years.  It’s still going with a slightly different format, featuring the some of the earlier Head to Head folks a second time around as individual stars.  John even sent me a hand-carved wooden spoon in honor of my three retirements right after he qualified for social security and a guaranteed monthly income.  I have a copy of his Dare Devil Bad McFad book, and he once favored me with his immortal, “I live for danger!,” in the presence of chili immortal Tex Scofield.  I sent him a cartoon of himself in bed with his twin barreled cooker, feeding it copies of the Goat Gap Gazette to keep warm in the winter.  Paul Kirk added a comment that John’s brisket was flavored by printer’s ink from the same source.

John Raven and I really enjoyed the friendly competition
at Welfare. One wouldn’t think so from the insults we exchanged in the Goat Gap Gazette.

Paul Kirk, Bad McFad, and Mike Wells at
the awards ceremony in Terlingua

An illustration from one of DareDevil
Bad McFad’s many adventures.

Illustrator Jordan Millay put this cartoon together
in honor of the Raven/Lyon Head to Head.

Bill Bridges, John Raven, and Bob Lyon judge
at Taylor in 1988.

Three Cool BBQ, Grilling, & Foodie Christmas Ideas

By Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker

It’s time for the annual look at cool Christmas ideas for the grilling guru and barbecue pit-master in your family. Sure, most of us in the industry have a bunch of cool toys and items that we use every day. However, not everyone needs accessories for a tow-behind competition smoker. Back away from competition and food service thinking and think about your buddy mastering their first kettle grill.

Horizon Home Products Extra Long Grilling Gloves
Avoid the heat with extra long grilling gloves. Peter Schimpf decided that he was getting tired of being burned while grilling out, or working in the kitchen, while using cheap potholders and mitts. Schimpf turned that one thought into a mission and then a small business. Check out his growing product selection on Amazon from Horizon Home Products including the Extra Long Grilling Gloves.

Schimpf says the gloves he’s offering are different from lesser quality versions. “These are great for grilling because not only do they protect your hands, wrists, and much of the forearm from heat but they are waterproof. Grease and sauce wash right off and they are dishwasher safe.”

Price $16.95 a pair. Seller: Horizon Home Products
Item: Extra Long Grilling Gloves.

Echo Hill Hand Forged Barbecue and Grilling Tools
This is probably one of the coolest items when it comes to grilling tools. Check out the handmade, in the USA, forged grilling tools from Echo Hill Forge. They not only make great cooking tools they also make a wide variety of gift and practical items. All are handmade and really should be considered art as well as functional tools.

The grilling set includes three tools including a wall rack. When you place your order you can let them know if you are right handed or left handed. Yep, they want to make sure you can flip your meat properly with the right curve on the steak turner.
Price: $180.00 set

Item: Barbecue Tool Set

PK Grills
If you’ve been grilling for a while then chances are you’ve seen a classic PK Grill. The iconic grill has vintage 50’s style with a time honored flavor packed design. In the early 1950’s, Hilton Meigs of Tyler Texas designed and manufactured a cast aluminum grill and smoker calling it the “Portable Kitchen.” He built his business by selling grills out of the back of his car. The company was bought and relocated to Arkansas where production ended after a massive fire.

Then, in 1998, Paul James came across a Portable Kitchen Charcoal Grill and Smoker at a yard sale. His grilling interest was sparked. He fell in love with his second hand grill and purchased the Portable Kitchen name. Soon he began producing sparkling new aluminum PK grills from castings of the original product. After a twenty year hiatus, PK was back in business in Little Rock, Arkansas. Over 60 years since its inception, the grills today are nearly identical to the one Hilton Meigs made all those years ago.

Price: $369.00

Kent Whitaker is the author of eight cookbooks, ranging from hometown cooking with a culinary history twist to titles for NASCAR tailgating and barbecue. He has also written and illustrated two books for children, is a trained USCG AUXCHEF, and is the winner of the Emeril Live / Food Network Barbecue Contest. His books are available in bookstores nationally and are also available online at, as well as at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.

BBQ sauces, rubs, and juices...Oh my!

By NBN Cooking Crew

BBQ Buddha Memphis Mop BBQ Sauce and Belly Rub
Chef Ray Sheehan has really developed a pair of winners here. Both his BBQ Buddha Mempphis Mop BBQ Sauce and his BBQ Buddha Belly Rub can stand on their own against any other products we have tried, but when combined on a grilled or smoked sample of meat, the results are hard to beat! We gave them tests on pork and poultry, and each test just got better and better. Overall, we give these products four-and-a-half bones out of a possible five bones by themselves and five bones when used together like they were intended to be!

Ray has been around the food business all his life, so he understands the difference between good food and really great food. He also has a passion for barbeque competitions.  Ray told us, “There is nothing like being on the front lines going head-to-head with the best pitmasters to make you want to get better. Those experiences, along with countless hours in the test kitchen, are what makes BBQ Buddha products so special."

You can find more about these products online at or check out their ad in our annual Holiday Gift Guide located on page 17.

Georgia’s Barbeque Sauce
A while back we had the opportunity to try a whole batch of sauces made by Scott Galt from our home state of Georgia. His box of four sauces and one ketchup had an great look, and the products inside matches their labels as well. The bottom line here is that each one of these sauces has an old-school and “homemade” flavor profile like what our grandparents used to make. Scott has been working on these sauces since 1973 when he received his first grill from his parents at the age of 16.  Scott organized The Sauce Company in 1989 and has not turned back since then.

If super sweet and tangy is what you are looking for, then these are not the sauces for you; however, if you like down-to-earth barbecue sauces that are not overly complex with a name that matches exactly what is in the bottle, then give these a try. Tip of the cap to Scott for offering a great group of sauces that each get four bones out of the total of five. You can find more information about these products on their website at

Sweet Smoke Q Sauces & Juice
If you keep up with competition barbecue winners, then there is a high probability that you have seen this team logo several times this past year. Jim Elser and his Sweet Smoke Q crew have no doubt been on a roll like few others. In 2014 the team won both the Florida Barbecue Association Team of the Year award and was also named the 2014 World Barbecue Champion at the World Food Championships. Both events prove that these products can definitely score big on the competition circuit.

It’s not often we see liquid marinades or injections that accompany sauce brands, but that is exactly what we got when we unpacked the box, and we could not wait to give them all a test run.

We tried all these products exactly how the label suggested, and every item we tested was fantastic. We tried the beef marinade on steaks, hamburgers, and brisket. The flavor was so evident in these trials that we decided no other condiment or sauce was needed. It was that good! We tested the pork marinade and injection with a pork butt, pork chops, and spare ribs. The Juice really brought out the pork flavor in every sample. Once we added sauce to the finished product, we had no less than created a masterpiece!

These flavor makers are guaranteed to put some big flavor in your barbecue, regardless of your cooking style. The Juices ensure your product is going to be sufficiently moist while adding tons of flavor while the cooking process is happening. The sauces accompany the profiles of the injections very well and definitely enhance what is there instead of covering it up or clashing with the finished product. Hands down these marinades and sauces get the full out five bones from all of our testing. Our order will be going in soon because we didn’t get enough on the first tests!

The National Barbecue News is proud to announce the winners of the 2015 Sauces of Honors contest. This is a National barbecue sauce contest that had 165 total entries this year. Our goal for this contest each year is very simple: find the best sauce that accompanies smoked pork, chicken or beef. All entries were judged in rounds and by a comparative basis. Thanks again for all who sent us your entries and we look forward to doing it all again next year as well!

PORK 59 Entries

  1. Captain Carolina – Company 7 BBQ
  2. Old Southern BBQ – Chicago Blue
  3. “Betty’s Blend” – Freddy Rays BBQ
  4. Sugar Britches BBQ Sauce & Glaze Spicy
  5. Sweet & Tangy – Sugar Hill Smokehouse
  6. “Creeper” – Freddy Rays BBQ
  7. Sweet Sauce O’ Mine
  8. Sucklebusters – Original
  9. Holy Smoke – Holy Smoke, LLC
  10. Sweet Barbecue Bones – Big B Barbecue
CHICKEN 56 Entries
  1. Full Boar BBQ “Sweet & Spicy”
  2. Hogs ’N Heat – Sweet & Savory BBQ Sauce
  3. Chief Smoky – Company 7 BBQ
  4. Dimples Sweet BBQ Sauce
  5. Captain Carolina – Company 7 BBQ
  6. Eroc’s – “Sweet Fig & Jamaican Rum”
  7. Ole Ray’s – Apple/Cinnamon Barbeque Sauce
  8. Sugar Britches BBQ Sauces & Glaze Spicy
  9. Anna’a Famous Sauce – Team Top Chick
  10. Riley’s Triple R Sauce
BEEF 50 Entries
  1. Chief Smoky – Company 7 BBQ
  2. Eroc’s – “Sweet Fig & Jamaican Rum”
  3. Smoky Jon’s Original Gourmet Supreme BBQ Sauce
  4. Full Boar BBQ “Sweet & Spicy”
  5. Sucklebusters – Original
  6. Sugar Britches BBQ Sauces & Glaze Spicy
  7. Riley’s Triple R Sauce
  8. Sierra Gourmet – Sierra Gourmet Grill
  9. Smoky Jon’s Fiery Gourmet Supreme BBQ Sauce
  10. Old Southern BBQ – Chicago Blue


By Linda Orrison

Here’s an opportunity for Southern BBQ folks to be a part of history!  To have your menus, signed cookbooks, and that old BBQ sign that’s sitting outback preserved permanently at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum!

Next time you are in the New Orleans area, I would highly recommend taking the time to visit the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  This place is so very interesting to anyone, let alone the likes of we foodies.

SoFAB, as it is called, documents and celebrates the food and drink of all southern cultures through exhibits and programming. SoFAB is home to several entities, among them the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, The Museum of the American Cocktail, the John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library, and the Pacific Food and Beverage.

SoFAB, guided by curator Stephen Raichlen, a James Beard award-winning author and TV personality, with the help of their excellent staff, is rapidly growing into the nation’s most comprehensive cultural institution studying food and drink.

Many southern cultures are honored, and BBQ is very prominent by the installation of the Trail of Smoke and Fire.

Texas: Aaron Franklin
Louisiana: Cajun Microwave from The Crawfish Guy
Mississippi: The Shed
Alabama: Big Bob Gibson's
Florida: A mullet smoker
Oklahoma: Hasty Bake
South Carolina: Our own presentation of an oyster roast
North Carolina: Ed Mitchell's
Georgia: The Big Green Egg
Arkansas: Outdoor Kitchen, Spadden's
Virginia: Edward's Hams
West Virginia:  Kingsford
Maryland: Fat Daddy's
Tennessee: Rendevous
Kentucky: Moonlight Barbecue

They also have a Shadden’s BBQ sign from Arkansas, and Kentucky’s Fancy Farm Picnic has sent several items to display.
SoFAB is reaching out to NBBQA members to make sure that anyone who wants to be a part of BBQ history has an invitation to do so.
Now’s your opportunity to make a statement for your southern que!  All that is required is to put it in the mail and send it to them.

SoFAB Institute
1609 O.C. Haley Blvd.
New Orleans, LA  70113
502-569 0405

If you are sending a sign or any other memorabilia you think worthy (other than menus and books), please contact Liz Williams, President at to give them a heads up.

Hope to see you all represented in this great project!

Taking Jerky to Another Level!

By Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker

 As some of my friends will tell you… I’m kind of a jerky freak. I’m a sucker for a good bag of jerky especially if it has a different take on flavor as are many of my grilling and barbecue buddies. Jerky that leans towards barbecue, or international flavorings, are right in my wheel house. That’s why an email from Ricky Hirsch, of Think Jerky, jumped out at me when he mentioned his Chef developed flavors! But that’s not really what captured my attention.

“Kent, my jerky is packed with flavor from real chefs,” Hirsch told me. “It’s protein-rich and all natural, containing no glutens, hormones nor antibiotics!” My first response was that I hoped that the flavor was not sucked out of the jerky as you find with foods that are developed to appeal to my healthier side. Thank goodness that was a concern of Hirsch’s as well. His reply to me was, “Kent, think healthy, think delicious, think jerky!” He had me at “Think Jerky!”

Why this is a BBQ Story!
I know some of you may be wondering why I chose to write about jerky in my column in the National Barbecue News (NBN). One, we all love jerky. And two, Hirsch has a great idea in reaching out to food professionals, as many NBN readers are. Almost all of us are looking to turn a competition hobby into a business. I think one way to do this to look outside of the box… the “fire box” in this instance.

Hirsch reached out to the culinary community to set his flavors apart. I think we all get stuck in a rut with the same old recipes and barbecue flavors. I also like Hirsch’s move towards fresh and all natural approach. I see more barbecue and grilling enthusiasts moving this way as well. Especially with today’s younger generation of backyard chefs. Hirsch provides a lesson of identifying a market that many of my friends developing sauces, rubs, and grilling products should think about.

Back To Jerky!
After chatting with Hirsch, I realized that I needed to taste his new Jerky! He was happy to oblige and sent a few samples my way. My wife Ally is more of a jerky snob than I am so I let her have the honors with the first taste.  Then came my test, followed by our son ARMY strong Sgt. son who was back in town from of “blowing stuff up for the USA,” … as he says. I didn’t tell either of my fellow tasters that the chef developed flavor should be noticeable as compared to other brands.

Here’s why — Hirsch has partnered with some pretty awesome chefs in his search for great taste! Laurent Gras, awarded three Michelin stars while chef at L20. How about James Beard award winning Gale Gand (Food Network, Tru, and SpritzBurger.) And let’s not forget Chicago Baconfest champion Matt Troost of (Three Aces, Charlatan.) Here’s the current lineup of flavors in single serving 1.5 ounce packages. Sriracha Honey, Ginger Orange, Sweet Chipotle, and Thanksgiving.
The results from the Whitaker family taste test? Thumbs Up! The jerky had, as promised, amazing flavor! We all loved the Ginger Orange but all of the samples were far beyond any jerky we’ve tried. And, the texture was amazing with seasonings you could see. Not just some tough meat flavored with chemicals and mystery spices then cut into uniform pieces.

Currently Hirsch is working on expanding his number of retailers while keeping his eye on healthy, quality, and of course flavor. “Jerky is a hot product these days because people are seeking protein-rich natural snacks,” said Hirsch. “Unfortunately, the jerky market is dominated by just a few producers who don’t create a premium product. Besides creating a healthy and delicious jerky, I wanted to create a company that maintained the integrity of the word ‘chef’, said Hirsch.
The details of Think Jerky’s Kickstarter campaign, including products and packaging, can be found at Also check out the video presentation that explains the philosophy of Think Jerky and how they source their ingredients, create recipes and manufacture their products.

Kent Whitaker is the author of eight cookbooks, ranging from hometown cooking with a culinary history twist to titles for NASCAR tailgating and barbecue. He has also written and illustrated two books for children, is a trained USCG AUXCHEF, and is the winner of the Emeril Live / Food Network Barbecue Contest. His latest book, Bullets and Bread,  is in bookstores nationally and is also available online at, as well as at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.

New products make the Q life more delicious and more convenient

By NBN Cooking Crew

RodFathers’s Premium BBQ Sauce

At first glance, this sauce looks premium because of the great graphics, bright colors, and whiskey shaped bottle. These looks are surely dead on as well, as the sauce inside the bottle is just as premium as the bottle looks. Sweet, tangy, and very mild with little to no heat best describes this sauce. The hint of onion and very small hint of liquid smoke really sets this sauce apart from most other barbecue sauces we have tasted in the past. We also love the fact that the sauce itself is fairly thin, which tells us that it is not intended to cover up the flavors found inside your barbecue but simply accompany the protein. We certainly recommend this one for anyone looking for a great chicken or pork sauce. We sampled this one on a few grilled pork chops and some chopped chicken, and the results were fantastic on both. Over all we give this sauce four and a quarter bones on a scale of one to five bones.

You can find out more about this brand new sauce at their website:

Unknown BBQ’s Lid Hinge for Weber Kettle
If you have competed in the Florida Barbecue Association over the past few years, then the name Unknown BBQ is very familiar to you. These guys have been on a tear since they first got started and show no signs of cooling down anytime soon.  Thus far they have 16 Grand Championships, six Reserve Grand finishes, and 22 overall top five finishes. They also have graced the cover of the National Barbecue News back in May 2012 after winning the Smoke on the Water competition in Thomaston, GA.

Now that you know who these guys are, let me introduce you to a few super useful grilling and smoking tools they are now making.

They have come up with a stainless steel hinge that works on several different Weber and UDS models. We love cooking on our old standard 22.5” Weber Kettle grill, and they hooked us up with a hinge to try on it. We know that Weber has the hook on the inside of the lid, but we also know that it really doesn’t work all that well, so finding a place to put the lid while you are grilling can indeed become a pain. With this new hinge, you have the best of both worlds because it comes with a quick release pin that will allow you to operate the lid like it came originally or simply keep the pin in and the lid will catch in the open position for you to tend to your grate. If the pin is in and open, then a very light tug forward on the lid handle will unlock the hinge and allow it to be closed in the correct sealed position.

This hinge is a super quality product that is indeed going to stand up to the test of time. I am willing to bet the grill will be burned through long before the hinge will give up. Installation was about a 10-minute job, and the instructions made this a really easy and quick project. We have tested the hinge now for about a month and love it more and more every time we fire up our Kettle. Overall, we have to give this product the max five bones on a scale of one to five bones. There is nothing that we dislike about this piece.

You can find more information and other size hinges and accessories at their website:

Photo by NBN Cooking Crew
Weber Kettle grill before hinge installation

Photo by NBN Cooking Crew
Weber Kettle (closed) after hinge installation

Photo by NBN Cooking Crew
Weber Kettle (open) after hinge installation


Grilled Wild Pacific Salmon with Ginger Lemongrass Sauce

Fire Up The Grill
By Steve Collins
The Home Chef



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Franklin Barbecue:
A Meat–Smoking Manifesto

Aaron Franklin


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