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Sauces of Honor 2016 Winners!

A day with the Pitmasters

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

More News

Don’t Forget Small Budget Barbecue and Grill Lovers

By Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker

Are we forgetting a large chunk of consumers? I had the pleasure of hanging out with Channel 9 here in Chattanooga for their morning broadcast. I served up grilling tips, mostly focused on hot dogs in honor of the opening day for the Chattanooga Lookouts baseball team. I also grilled up a bunch of dogs first thing in the morning for the Tennessee Train ladies full contact football team who were starting their summer season. It was a neat morning.

But, back to my subject. I think, we as an industry, sometimes focus too much on large smokers, huge events, massive tailgates, and extravagant cookouts. I’m sure that readers of the National Barbecue News know the difference between slow-smoked barbecue, off-set grilling, and direct heat grilling. And, I also know how food retailers, grill manufactures, regional factors, and even media outlets outside of the world of competition barbecue blur the lines between what is grilling and what the barbecue process is.

This thought process stems from a conversation I had with a young man working at the station. He was early twenties, newly married, had a baby on the way, and was just starting out with a new job and a new town. As we talked between live shots it became clear that he was well removed from being able to afford, or have space for, many of the fun tools and such we get to play with on a regular basis. Here’s what he said.

“Most of my grilling is done on my fake Weber from Dollar General. Heck, until a few weeks ago, my grilling was helped along by George Foreman!”

I know that many of us long for a great tailgate at the game or during a NASCAR weekend. My wife Ally and I love setting up a big spread for a back yard cookout. My son Mace and buddy Wes take pride in one-upping each other in an endless rib contest. I know that the same mentality crosses over to the competition side of barbecue.
I guess what I’m saying is this: coming from the standpoint of a cookbook author and culinary writer, sometimes it’s a good thing to refocus. I’m going to try and remember that not everyone I’m talking to during an event or book signing, or even in future articles, has the access to the neat toys that I do. Showing this young man several really cool twists on hot dog and smoked sausage recipes seemed just as important to him as if I had held a private class on smoking pork ribs.

I think, again – as an industry and as a writer, we all need to keep in mind that many of our future customers are just starting out on the barbecue trail. They may be working on a tight budget, a small grill, and are probably a few years removed from a sweet tow-behind custom smoker. If you can make them a fan of great barbecue and grilling at this stage then they will probably be a bigger Que Guru down the road.

Kent Whitaker is a cookbook author and culinary writer with fourteen books. He and his wife Ally live in East Tennessee. Kent's books are available at any book store or online at Connect with Kent on twitter at @thekentwhitaker.

Photo courtesy of Kent Whitaker/The Deck CheF
Never leave a microphone lying around. Kent and team members of the TN Train ladies football team take over the Channel 9 mic during an early morning grilling session.

Photo courtesy of Kent Whitaker/The DecK Chef
Kent, pictured far right, celebrating Chattanooga Lookouts opening day with the crew of Channel 9 - Good Morning Chattanooga.

Cowboy Charcoal Announces First Annual Fire & Ice Women’s Championship Barbecue Series with KCBS

Cowboy Charcoal, in Partnership with KCBS, Launches Women’s Series to Recognize Talented Female Pitmasters

STOCKTON, CA (April 19, 2016) – Cowboy Charcoal (, maker of top selling, all-natural hardwood lump charcoal, wood chips and chunks, today announced the first ever Cowboy Charcoal Fire and Ice Women’s Championship Barbecue Series  to celebrate female barbecue competitors across the United States.
Cowboy Charcoal, in partnership with the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS), kicks off the 2016 barbecue season with the new competition series, looking for the best female pitmasters to be judged on taste, appearance and texture in the following categories: chicken, ribs, pork and brisket.

“We are excited to announce our first women’s competition series with KCBS,” said Chris Caron, Vice President, General Manager for Duraflame, Inc. “We’re inspired by women in the BBQ industry who are making a mark on the scene. We wanted to create a platform to celebrate the trend-setting women in the industry and recognize these talented pitmasters among their peers.”

To qualify for the series, teams must be pre-registered with KCBS and have a designated female pitmaster. Teams accrue points at KCBS-sanctioned events from January 2016 through The American Royal competition later in the calendar year. The top ten women’s teams will win a spot to compete at the World Barbecue Championship in Orange Beach, Ala. November 9-13, 2016, where they will vie for $15,000 in diamond jewelry in the Fire & Ice Finals Competition.

"We are so thrilled to have a focused and fun program this year — thanks to Cowboy Charcoal — that celebrates the female pitmaster," commented Carolyn Wells, Executive Director of KCBS. "Our community of passionate BBQ enthusiasts is anchored by both men and women, so I applaud Cowboy's efforts to shine a well-deserving light on the females who are excelling in professional barbecue."

For more information about the competition and how to register, please visit For competitors not registered with KCBS, please visit

About Cowboy Charcoal
Cowboy Charcoal Company is the best-known brand of natural hardwood lump charcoal. Cowboy’s premium products guarantee an authentic wood flavor and tender, juicy results with every grilling experience. Now a subsidiary of Duraflame, Inc., Cowboy Charcoal is introducing new grilling products to help fuel the passion of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts across North America. More information about Cowboy’s product line can be found at

Proud to inspire the pursuit of grilling perfection, Cowboy Charcoal provides recipes, tips and information about “Cowboy cuisine” on their official blog, The Roundup, .
About the Kansas City Barbecue Society
A nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbeque, KCBS celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016. As the world’s largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts, KCBS serves more than 20,000 active members and sanctions more than 450 barbeque contests worldwide. For more information, visit

Spices Smokehouse Crackers
A friend’s shared recipe turns into a business

I never dreamed in 2003 when a friend shared this crazy spiced up cracker with me that it would turn into a business.

After being introduced to this snack by a friend from Louisiana Robert and I both loved them I called and ask for her recipe and she was happy to share. Of course I had to put my twist on it and my BBQ family was the perfect avenue for me to test flavor profiles on the crackers. I tweaked it for a long time before I hit the perfect mark! We loved them so much that I would make them whenever we went to parties and BBQ contest to snack on. Before long I was being ask by others to make them a jug of these crackers.

Surprisingly the calls kept coming, Robert said “you just need to sell those things because everybody loves them.”
I saw my friend later and gave her a jug. With a smile she said “I like yours better”. I shared my desire to sell them and she got excited giving me her blessings. She is no longer with us but I know in heaven she is looking down with a smile on what she started.

As a caterer I had all the facility and proper permits in place so it was easy to start selling them online, locally and at BBQ contest. After years of being on the back burner I took another look at its potential as a “real business” last year and I knew I couldn’t sit still with this snack that everybody loves, I needed to see where it would lead.

In 2015 Spices Smokehouse was granted FDA permits to sell for mass distribution. Spices Smokehouse Crackers now has retail locations all across North Alabama and Tennessee and spreading into Arkansas, Florida and Texas. With 2 new Sales Reps the growth is promising. We are aggressively looking for new distributors nationally.

About Spices Smokehouse
Spices Smokehouse started as a competition BBQ team in 1996 following the KCBS and FBA circuit. We have also competed and won many other culinary contests including a Food Network Challenge in Nashville TN. In 2006 love for cooking and helping others Team Spices Smokehouse opened their catering business and has seen continued growth over the years offering southern hospitality with their delicious food. In 2016 we have expanded by offering our popular Smokehouse Gold Sauce, Caribbean Glaze and Pig Rub. At Spices Smokehouse we contribute our success to hard work, attention to detail and God’s blessings.

Spices Smokehouse & BBQ Store
1470 US Hwy. 431 N Suite 308
Boaz AL 35957
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Photos courtesy of Spices Smokehouse

Smoke’n Dudes BBQ Company
Weekend hobby turns into full-time business

By Shannon Christine

When someone is hungry for a delicious barbecue meal, Pennsylvania is probably not the state that leaps into mind as the country’s go-to BBQ destination. However, that may be just the stroke of luck that has allowed a small yet evolving barbecue company to thrive in Bensalem. Smoke’n Dudes BBQ Company started in the 1990s as a weekend hobby for four buddies looking for something to fill their time. “We all love to eat and be outside, so barbecue seemed a natural fit for us,” says founder Tom Christine. “Little did we know that this hobby would eventually turn into a full-time business.”

As the Smoke’n Dudes BBQ competition team made its rounds in local festivals, fans kept asking how they could purchase their food. This helped to launch the idea that perhaps the team was onto something a bit larger than a pastime. With son Bill Christine, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America, and wife Barb Christine at his side, Tom decided to take the plunge. In addition to competing, the crew began to vend at BBQ contests and festivals up and down the east coast, as well as plan for an eventual barbecue restaurant. In addition to the restaurant, the Christines began catering area weddings, parties, and corporate picnics.

“Barbecue is food that brings people together. Everyone has had the typical catered buffet meals, but with Smoke’n Dudes, guests were being treated to something homey and unique,” says Bill Christine, when asked what makes barbecue perfect for gatherings. And their customers would agree. Many have remarked that they haven’t had barbecue this satisfying outside of the South, which this family takes as a high level compliment indeed.

Now that this family and barbecue company has checked off the competing, vending, serving, and catering markets on their list, what is there left to do? In one word: plenty. Never a family to shy away from a new venture, the Christines embarked on a mission to fulfill a need that they saw developing in the BBQ industry. In 2012, they built a USDA inspected meat packaging facility and launched Tasty Little Pigs, a division dedicated to custom spec and private label packaging for barbecue restaurants and festival vendors. Barbecuers looking to fulfill their dream of taking their food to market need to look no further than Tasty Little Pigs.

“We work with customers who would like to develop their recipes but don’t have the facility or the means to package their food in compliance with USDA regulations,” explains Bill Christine, who heads up the meat processing facility. “And then we have another customer group who purchases our food, and we package it with their label.” Smaller scale operations who couldn’t get their food into markets and stores before, are now able to do so with the assistance of Tasty Little Pigs. Bill Christine had the foresight to envision the evolution of Smoke’n Dudes from restaurant to an expanded, full service packaging and sales establishment.

Another piece of the BBQ business that Smoke’n Dudes is enthusiastic about servicing is with its own competitors. It may sound counterintuitive to help fellow barbecue rivals, but it really is all about the access. Smoke’n Dudes has committed themselves to providing BBQ teams with the ability to purchase sauces and rubs that are consistently award-winners. They also sell competition grade meats, such as Wagyu beef and Duroc and Berkshire pork, which is often difficult for the average barbecuer to acquire. In addition to the meats, sauces, spices, and rubs, Smoke’n Dudes is a dealer for Kamado Joe, Green Mountain Grills, Meadow Creek and Southern Pride.

Tucker Christine, Office Manager, shared the Smoke’n Dudes BBQ Company vision in straightforward fashion, “What we set out to do is to provide a one-stop-shop in supplying any barbecuer with the tools, equipment, and food products that will set him or her apart from the rest. We can help every level of barbecuer, from the amateur backyard variety all the way up to the professionals.”

While this family owned and operated business is pushing others in barbecue to excellence, they haven’t lost sight of their own upward climb. This spring Bill Christine is set to offer the first of his cooking class series, which will continue at the restaurant in Bensalem. Both Bill and the rest of the crew (Barb, Tom, and Tucker) look forward to sharing the passion and dedication of the Smoke’n Dudes BBQ Company, as they are positioned to take their business to the next level. This is certainly lucky news for nationwide teams and customers, who would like to join them in making “the best barbecue you’ll ever have.”

The Christines invite you to stop over to see them at the Smoke’n Dudes BBQ Company, located at 3400 Neshaminy Blvd., Bensalem, PA 19020, when you are in the area, especially on the weekend for “Saturday Samples.” If you can’t make it to Bensalem, in the meantime satisfy your BBQ cravings by visiting them at and on Facebook at Sign up for the newsletter or mobile updates on the website and be sure to like them on Facebook in order to keep up with their latest product news and special events and promotions.

Photos courtesy of Smoke’n Dudes Barbecue Company

Heinz partners with Top Pitmasters to launch five new great-tasting BBQ sauces

Heinz worked with Top Pitmaster partners to craft the five delicious new sauces – Kansas City, Texas, Carolina, Memphis, and Classic – each capturing the distinctively authentic taste of its region.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. & CHICAGO, Ill., April 18, 2016 (BUSINESS WIRE) — After a successful launch into yellow mustard last year, Heinz is once again heating up the grilling season by launching into another new category: BBQ! Heinz just released five new, great-tasting BBQ sauces, created in partnership with five of America’s top pitmasters. Heinz BBQ sauces are a collection of authentic regional sauces that taste even better than they look. Heinz worked with five Pitmaster Partners and used only 100% natural, locally-inspired ingredients and recipes to craft each delicious BBQ sauce - Kansas City Sweet & Smoky, Memphis Sweet & Spicy, Texas Bold & Spicy, Carolina Tangy Vinegar, and Heinz Classic Sweet & Thick – each with flavor as distinct as the regional barbecue taste it represents.

The launch of Heinz’s new BBQ Sauces is supported by a new campaign, “Pitmasters, not Spokespeople,” which features the Heinz Pitmaster Partners: Joe and Mike Pearce (Kansas City), Dan Brown (Memphis), Robert Sierra (Texas) and Sam Jones (Carolina). As part of the campaign, the TV commercial showcases the delicious new BBQ sauces alongside the real pitmasters who partnered with Heinz on each of them. In a funny, blooper-reel style spot, we see that while these pitmasters are masters at perfecting delicious-tasting, authentic BBQ sauces, they may not be masters of being traditional “spokespeople.” Heinz tapped DAVID Miami for the campaign. (

“As interest in BBQ continues to grow across the country, people are becoming more aware that different regions have different styles of sauce, but we know that a lot of consumers are reluctant to try a sauce from a brand they don’t know and trust,” said Jessica Ryan, Director of Marketing at The Kraft Heinz Company. “Our new line of BBQ sauces will make it easier for people to explore these flavors, because they combine the BBQ expertise and passion of top pitmasters with the trust and experience of Heinz.”

New Heinz BBQ Sauces include:
Kansas City Style Sweet & Smoky BBQ Sauce:
Rooted in generations of barbeque tradition, great Kansas City style barbeque is a perfect balance of thick, sweet and tangy. Heinz teamed up with Kansas City natives and award-winning Pitmasters, Joe and Mike Pearce, to craft a Kansas City style sauce that is a mouthwatering blend of that sweet and smoky deliciousness that the region is known for.

Memphis Style Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce: From the birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, the tradition of Memphis barbeque is rich and sweet with a pop of spice. To create a truly great Memphis style barbeque sauce, Heinz teamed up with Dan Brown of Memphis’ own Leonard’s PIT Barbeque — a barbeque institution since 1922. With sweet brown sugar and the flavors of the region’s traditional dry rubs, this is a sweet and spicy sauce that’s sure to be a favorite.
Texas Style Bold & Spicy BBQ Sauce: In Texas, there’s nothing shy about barbeque, and a great Texas style sauce means bold flavors and big personality. That’s why Heinz teamed up with Robert Sierra, Pitmaster of the Texas State Grand Champion S&S Pit Crew competition BBQ team from San Marcos, Texas. This sauce captures the very best of Texas barbeque — combining spices like cumin and chili powder for a sauce that’s bold and flavorful with just the right kick.

Carolina Vinegar Style Tangy BBQ Sauce: Real Carolina barbeque is all about the deep-rooted traditions of whole-hog barbeque slow cooked over wood coals. Heinz teamed up with third-generation pitmaster Sam Jones, of the legendary Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden, North Carolina to craft a true Carolina style sauce that blends the distinctive tang of apple cider with the just right bit of sweet and spice to make it the perfect addition to your favorite pulled pork.

Classic Sweet & Thick BBQ Sauce: The traditions of barbeque in America run deep - and a great sauce can make all the difference. That’s why the Heinz Barbeque team has traveled the country and done our homework with some of the nation’s top Pitmasters to bring you a sauce that captures the real flavors of American barbeque. This sauce is a true classic -sweet, thick, deliciously balanced, 100% natural, and sure to please!

All five of the New Heinz BBQ sauces come in Heinz’s iconic, upside-down squeezable bottle and are available at major retailers nationwide in 20oz bottles with a suggested retail price of $2.49. Heinz also offers a “Pitmaster Collection” Sampler 4-Pack that features 11oz sampler bottles of the Kansas City, Memphis, Texas and Carolina sauces.
For more information and to Meet the Masters, visit #HeinzBBQ #MadeWithTheMasters.

The Kraft Heinz Company (NASDAQ:KHC) is the third-largest food and beverage company in North America and the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world, with eight $1 billion+ brands. A globally trusted producer of delicious foods, The Kraft Heinz Company provides high quality, great taste and nutrition for all eating occasions whether at home, in restaurants or on the go. The Company’s iconic brands include Kraft, Heinz, ABC, Capri Sun, Classico, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Lunchables, Maxwell House, Ore-Ida, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Planters, Plasmon, Quero, Weight Watchers, Smart Ones and Velveeta. The Kraft Heinz Company is dedicated to the sustainable health of our people, our planet and our Company. For more information, visit

Photo courtesy of Heinz

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More than a family tradition
BBQ is a way of life for the Black’s family

Sizzle & Smoke
By R. Kell Phelps
Publisher, NBBQN

Is there anything that can compare to barbecue in Texas? Personally, I think not! I have formed this opinion over many conversations with others about this very subject, and most agree with my opinion. Texas barbecue really is totally different in every aspect, as compared to the barbecue habits of other Americans. Their competitions are most often formed as fundraisers with very little to no purse for the winners, and the barbecue restaurant business is abundant in a way that can only be described as the state of Texas itself: Everything is bigger in Texas! Okay, I admit that in this case, it is probably more a case of more in Texas versus bigger in Texas, but if you have ever traveled around the state much, then you totally understand what my point is. According to our friend Daniel Vaughn, who is the barbecue editor for Texas Monthly, Texas leads the nation with 2,238 total restaurant locations. You can see his full article about how big Texas barbecue really is on their website at

In thinking about the massive amount of barbecue families in Texas, there is one that has been doing it longer than any other — Black’s Barbecue. This is the oldest family-owned joint in the state. They opened in 1932 and are now in their fifth generation of family members who are working the pits there. There is no doubt this qualifies as more than a family tradition and more like a way of life for this close-knit family from Lockhart. County Judge Edgar Black Sr., actually opened Black’s Barbecue as a meat market, and now 84 years later they are going stronger than ever before.

The third generation and an active pitmaster now is Kent Black. He was gracious enough to share some of his family’s rich history with us. There is no doubt that this small article hardly scratches the surface to all of the history he has, but we are very thankful that he is letting us share it with you. His parents, Edgar Black, Jr., and Norma Black, both worked and grew the business for over 60 years. They were the first Lockhart barbecue place to hire minorities back in the 1950’s and even had the pleasure of cooking and catering barbecue for Presdient Lyndon B. Johnson at the famed Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC...all of this after Edgar Black, Jr., served in World War II and graduated from Texas A&M. They actually expanded and had the largest grocery store and restaurant in the county at over 6,000 square feet, which was massive for that era of time.  Mr. Edgar is currently the oldest active pitmaster in the United States at the tender age of 90. He started working at Blacks Barbecue back in 1947 and still tends the pits there today.

Kent has been working at Black’s since his high school days and is now joined by his wife Candice with sons Eric and Barrett as they operate locations in Lockhart, Austin, and San Marcos, Texas. This newer generation of Black’s Barbecue has certainly continued to make the family name grow to new heights. They have had the opportunity to sell their briskets five different times on QVC, the Home Shopping Network, once selling 1,000 briskets in only eight minutes. Twice they have been named to the prestigious Best BBQ in Texas list compiled by Texas Monthly. This new generation of Blacks has also made it so everyone can enjoy their barbecue regardless of where you are located, as they now ship their products via FedEx.

We look forward to hearing and watching how the next generation of this amazing family keeps the pits smoking. They all invite you down to Black’s Barbecue at their original location at 215 N. Main St. in Lockhart Texas…the BBQ Capital of Texas since 1932. You can also visit their website at or follow them on FaceBook or on Twitter as well.

Photo courtesy of Black’s Barbecue
This logo has indeed become more
than a tradition for this family.

Photo courtesy of Black’s Barbecue
Here are the pits at the original Lockhart location. These have a cooking capacity of 500 pounds and are loaded up just about all the time…24/7!

Photo courtesy of Black’s Barbecue
This sign sums up how this family has kept the lines long and smoke rolling since 1932.

Photo courtesy of Black’s Barbecue
Edgar Black, Sr. is pictured with President Lyndon B. LBJ once had Black’s send barbecue to him for a party at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Secret service spent two days with them as they cooked for the President.

Photo courtesy of Black’s Barbecue
Just a peek at what they are serving up daily at Black’s Barbecue in Texas.

Jacksonville BBQ Bash sets new records for NBBQA public day

By Kell Phelps
NBN Publisher

The annual public day event that the NBBQA holds each year is always a chance for the public to come and get a taste of what true barbecue is really like. On March 12, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a new page was written on how to host a BBQ bash for the public. The format sounds simple, but this only happened because the giants of barbecue showed up and indeed showed out! Ten All-Star barbecue teams all cooked something a little different from the others, trying to get the most tickets to be named the Jax BBQ Bash People’s Choice Champion. These teams were headed up by Mike Mills, Tuffy Stone, Myron Mixon, Chris Lilly, Ray (Dr. BBQ) Lampe, Brad Orrison, and Brooke Orrison, just to name a few. Before the event started, over 350 tickets had been bought in advance, and the line started forming at 10 a.m. for the opening.

This was my 12th year attending and I have never seen a line forming to get in. The event itself was very family-oriented, and there were nothing but smiles as the weather and atmosphere were picture-perfect as seen in these photos. Special thanks to the folks from The Big Green Egg for their sponsorship of the event. I cannot wait to see what will happen next year in Fort Worth, Texas.

Photo Courtesy of Dan Ulledahl
This just about explains what was happening for the entire four hour period known as Jax BBQ Bash. Over 1000 barbecue lovers packed the small street beside the Jacksonville Landing complex for an All-Star barbecue party that cannot be described with words. Special thanks to Dan Ulledahl from for his awesome photos from his drone.

Photo By Kell Phelps
The biggest group featured a huge surprise as Ray Lampe (Dr. BBQ) and the folks from The Big Green Egg hosted a mini EggFest happening. There was no doubt this team also had to win the award for having the most serious cooks, as we saw everything from pizza to seafood being served up from their area. We can’t wait to see what might happen with these guys out in Fort Worth.

Photo by Amy Mills
No NBBQA public day bash would be complete without ribs from the famous 17th Street BBQ gang, with head pitmaster Mike Mills. His ribs have been a super crowd pleaser no matter the weather conditions or location of the country. It might just be illegal to have a BBQ Bash like this without ribs from The Legend!

Photo by Nancy Montgomery
This year’s overall People’s Choice Champion was the team headed up by Chris Lilly. These folks served up some really super steaks that were grilled up to perfection and then finished off in a cast iron skillet. My sample was simply not enough, and I went back again just to see if they could duplicate my first experience. Believe it or not, I think the second sample was better.

Photo By Kell Phelps
The only way to complete a successful BBQ Bash would be with BBQ’s Best Friend Cheerwine. Once the gates opened these ladies were wide open making sure everyone got to experience just how great this soft drink goes with anything that has been smoked on a barbecue pit or fire grilled.

Bottled Success

Anna Montgomery: The BBQ girl story

(This is an edited version of a story that first ran in the National Barbecue News in December 2004.)

In 2003 a ten-year-old fourth grader, Anna Montgomery, joined the local 4-H Club and chose Chicken-Que as her completive activity. This was not unusual (as her dad was a BBQ judge), and she had attended several professional BBQ competitions. On a chilly April morning facing 28 junior competitors, Anna’s BBQ adventure would begin. Armed with her trusty Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, tools, rub, and the Sauce (remember the Sauce), Anna worked methodically throughout the morning and was rewarded with a First Place finish, thus winning the county and advancing to district competition where she would also prevail with another first place win.

To step up her game, Anna entered a local 4th of July non-sanctioned contest, placing second out of 17 adult teams. Anna had a big trophy and a $300 check. Fifteen teams went home knowing they were bested by a 10-year-old girl. This ended competitions for the year, but Anna would continue to travel to BBQ events that her dad judged where she was becoming well-known among the competitors.

Spring 2004 rolled around, and again Anna found herself at the County 4-H event, this time facing 43 competitors. Now a poised and confident Anna prevailed again by taking the top spot. After her dad posted Anna’s accomplishments on the BBQ Forum message board (Pre Facebook days), good-natured offers from competition teams began to come in. Poppa J’s team from Tuscaloosa wasn’t kidding. “Come cook our chicken in Huntsville, and we will split the winnings,” said team leader Stan Johnson. Now this was a KCBS event with some of the top teams in the country competing. Anna was dropped off at the cook site with her Weber and quietly went to work. A low buzz began as people realized what was happening. Jaws dropped when Anna took third place out of 57 teams. Anna was on TV and written up in the newspaper. Steve Marrs, promoter of a large KCBS contest in Denver, CO, that benefits the Children’s Hospital, invited Anna to come cook his event.

While preparing for the Denver event, a decision was made to form a family team and do at least one event prior. The Wild Turkey Tennessee State Championship in Lawrenceburg in June 2004 would be the first KCBS contest for TEAM Top Chick. Where would this fledgling rank against some of the best in BBQ? Incredibly, Anna’s team would take first place in both chicken and pork categories and seventh overall. That is not supposed to happen with a rookie team and an 11-year-old chicken cook.

This initial success was followed by a sixth place finish Albertville, a fourth place finish in Denver, and a seventh place in Decatur. The teams first Grand Championship would come in Gallatin, TN, at Smoking on the Square in October 2004. Afterwards an all-women team, Chicks in Charge, drafted Anna’s services for the Clarkesville, TN, KCBS event, and she brought home another First Place in Chicken.

The last contest on the schedule that year clearly stood out as being special. The National Barbecue News was hosting a major event in Douglas, GA. This was an event that brought together the top teams from all of the sanctioning bodies — KCBS, MIM, FBA, IBCA, and others — in the Best of the Best Invitational and Open events. There would be 67 of the best BBQ teams in the nation assembled in downtown Douglas on a beautiful fall weekend to see who the best was. Food Network would be on hand filming a BBQ show about the legendary Blind Dog’s Outlaw Gang. The TV crew quickly discovered the 11-year-old BBQ cook and became her constant companion. If this rookie team could place anywhere in the top half of this outstanding field, it would be an accomplishment. The anticipation would build as the awards were delayed by the CPA firm that was charged with insuring the accuracy of the count. In the chicken category, the team would take fifth, followed by a forth in ribs.  These scores tallied together would be good enough to earn the team an amazing Reserve Grand Championship. What a way to end the year — a Grand, a Reserve, and never out of the top ten! While this story may sound like a little girl’s fairy tale, it is all true, and Team Top Chick can’t wait for 2005.

And Now…The rest of the story!!
So whatever happened to Anna Montgomery and Team Top Chick? Well, a lot! Anna would dominate 4-H competitions for years to come in local, state, and national competitions. Anna and the team continued to compete on the KCBS circuit for 10 more years. Anna (and the rest of the Montgomery children) grew up in the BBQ community (and what better community of people to grow up in?). Through all of this, they learned to work hard as a team, to interact with adults as peers, to win and lose with class, and to form friendships that would last a lifetime. They’ve traveled the country meeting new people and seeing the beauty of America, all because of BBQ.

During that time, they would score five Grand Championships, five Reserve Grand Championships, and numerous category and top 10 awards. Perhaps none was more special than when “the girl with the chicken hat” took 5th in the 2009 American Royal out of 473 teams.  Along the way, Anna grew up and was active in school, 4-H, and church work, and also took a mission trip to Mexico. Anna also stayed busy doing community service and attended and graduated college from the University of North Alabama with a degree sociology and family counseling in 2015. Anna is now a counselor at Space Camp in Huntsville, AL, and has applied to graduate school, so with all of this happening now, there was less time for BBQ.

However, there was a bit of unfinished BBQ business…the sauce! The sauce that was on the chicken the first time Anna cooked in 4-H and every time after that…the sauce that won awards on its own…Anna’s Famous Sauce! It’s a sweet, thick sauce with pineapple overtones with a bite at the end. Yeah, that sauce! In January 2016, Anna’s Famous Sauce was professionally bottled, and in February it became available for sale in local markets and by mail order.

The marketing plan is simple: Put a box under your arm and go out and tell the story. Will Anna’s Famous Sauce become a household name and take its place among the giants of the BBQ sauce world? Could this be the start of a line of Anna’s Famous Food products? Who knows? But with a proven track record like this, we wouldn’t be betting against her!

Check out Anna's Famous Sauce at or on Facebook.

All Photos by Nancy Montgomery

Lambert’s Sweet Smoker O’Mine

By Gregg Snyder

I am excited to tell everyone about my latest barbecue cooker. It’s the Red Box Smoker from Mark Lambert. This creation is his baby! I became interested in the cooker after cooking with Mark and his team, Sweet Swine O’ Mine, at several events over the past few years. I picked up my new cooker down in Florida at the Sonny’s BBQ Invitational at the end of January and have kept it hot since then!

My first attempt to fire the cooker up was on a very cold and very early Sunday morning at 5 a.m. I put on St. Louis style ribs, and the cooker did a great job even in the very cold weather. The ribs turned out awesome, and I would indeed suggest this to any serious barbecue chef…and even the beginners! Easy operation, water pan capable, and well-insulated are factors that help make this a super barbecue cooker. I would give this cooker a 4.95 out of 5 ribs on the new product meter. I would really like to see the cooker be about two inches longer to give a bit more room for half steamer pans, but I also know that with that added size would come added costs.

You can find more information about this new product at Sweet Swine O’ Mine Distributing. Their web site,, also has a ton of other great barbecue items that Mark carries. You can also call Mark directly at 901-831-1451

G's Slow Smoked BBQ defines BBQ joint

Sizzle & Smoke
By R. Kell Phelps
Publisher, NBBQN

Everyone has their own definition of what a true barbecue joint is. I formed this opinion many years ago after hearing tons of discussions about what it takes to be considered a true BBQ joint and hearing the thousands of requirements needed to qualify for this title.  What does it take for you to qualify a place as a great barbecue joint?  I have narrowed my requirements down to one simple question: Is this a place I want to tell others about?

My newest BBQ joint find is located down in the Jacksonville, Florida, area and will be showcased as part of the annual National Barbecue Association Convention Barbecue Restaurant Tour coming up in March. I have heard hundreds of comments about this place over the past few years and finally got to try it out a few weeks ago. G’s Slow Smoked BBQ is a creation of Gary Park, Jr. He has turned his passion into a business the right way by growing slow and steady. I personally look forward to seeing this place continue to grow and expand, bringing more barbecue smiles to the area there.

Gary started seriously cooking barbecue around 2006 when a long time friend, John Bennett, with whom he graduated had moved to South Carolina and had a BBQ restaurant. Gary told us, “I caught the BBQ bug from him, and I've always loved the idea, but he kind of sparked my interest for sure. I decided around 2005-2006 to purchase my first stick burner, and I started practicing my new love of BBQ.”

The next step that Gary took is not normal, but it turned out to be a great move on his part. Most new barbecue fans want to compete with their newfound skills before heading out in the business side; however, in 2006 Gary started setting up and selling barbecue on a local street corner. After several years and a few bumps in the road, he opened up G's Slow Smoked BBQ in May of 2012.

When talking to Gary about the pits he cooks on, he let us know that he really has a passion for cooking old school.  Gary told us, “Every pit made has a purpose and most work really well with enough practice or tweaks to them, but I love the old process of stick burners when I am cooking for pleasure.” He even has an old school concrete block pit in front of his place where he hosts “pig pickings” on select weekends. His choice pit inside the restaurant is a Southern Pride, and the food from it is nothing short of amazing!  Gary also told us, “The very first commercial-built stick burner I ever cooked on was a Lang that I borrowed from my friend, Richard Davis, for my birthday party. After that, I fell in love with that style of cooker.”

Now that you know a bit about the man behind this joint, I want to tell you more about my experience and why I am proud to tell others about this place. When walking in the door, everyone working there seems to be extremely happy and welcome every customer like they are friends. This is one of those requirements of a true barbecue joint that I have heard many times before. The walls look like a proud display of awards and sayings that back up the staff’s smiles as genuine joy to be there. Again, this type of atmosphere is yet another one of the thousands of requirements that have been discussed for years to be considered to be a true barbecue joint and is very evident here.

I ordered a sampler of meats that included ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. This “sampler” item doesn’t exist on their menu board, but the young lady didn’t hesitate to place that exact order to the kitchen crew. Before I was finished with my visit, Gary made sure I had the opportunity to try his beef ribs, banana pudding, beef brisket, and also some venison chili that he had made for his crew that was working. I was beyond stuffed before attempting to walk around and take some photos of his joint. Every morsel of food that I ate was beyond excellent! I told Gary before leaving that I had found a new favorite barbecue joint.

The pork ribs were super tender without being mushy, while the pulled pork was awesome and served exactly like I love it…naked with the sauce on the side. The beef rib (G-rassic beef rib) was excellent and cooked to perfection. The chicken thigh was moist, tender, and juicy, with the perfect hint of smoke and also cooked to perfection and served with the sauce on the side. I am very sad to report that I didn’t even get to try the sides, which consist of collard greens, cole slaw, potato salad, and French fries. I can only tell you that I will be going back soon to try the other offerings of this awesome barbecue joint!

G’s Slow Smoked BBQ is located at 1691 Russell Road, Middleburg, FL, 32068. They are open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can find more information and follow them on their FaceBook page at Gs-Slow-Smoked-BBQ-LLC. I can’t wait to get back there and pig out again!
Until Next Month...Keep It Smokin’!

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
Front view of G's Slow Smoked BBQ joint.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
The menu board and counter inside at G's Slow Smoke BBQ joint.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
Some of the awards and decorations found that make this a true barbecue joint.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
Concrete block pit used for occasional pig pickings.

Pearl Snap Salsa and Peppers makes their debut at ‘The Jack’

By Vernee Green-Myers

Mark Lambert and Sweet Swine of Mine Distributing are known for hosting killer pre-event dinner parties.  This past October was no different.  As I was walking by the SSOM site to check out the “Little Red Box” smoker, I noticed jars of salsa with chips sitting on a table for the guests.  After standing for hours taking photos, I grabbed a chip and scooped up some salsa and popped it into my mouth.  It was really good!  So I asked the guy standing there, “What is this?”  He said, “It’s Pearl Snap Salsa. A buddy of mine makes it.  I have some hotter in the trailer if you want to take a jar and try it.  It’s too hot to put out for the general public.”  Of course, I enthusiastically agreed.  You hear that all the time and people have different opinions, but this time I was inclined to believe him based solely upon the list of the ingredients.  He also had some jars of pepper jelly that he said was good to pour over cream cheese and eat with crackers.  I saw a jar of jelly labeled “HabanApple” that I was dying to try, but not over cream cheese.  I wanted to use it in a rib glaze instead of regular apple jelly.  So I grabbed an empty box and took a few jars home.  Over the last two months, I think I have tried every Pearl Snap Salsa product.  

Pearl Snap Salsa and Peppers was founded by Brian Shieldnight on his family-owned farm in Coweta, Oklahoma, following a career in the military.  For three generations, Shieldnight’s family has grown, canned, dried, and frozen just about every type of food you’d grow on a farm.  Some of the products like the Green Tomato Relish come from “Grandma’s secret recipe.”  Other recipes are “newly created concoctions” which are bound to make them famous.  Their latest product, “Atomic 12,” is the world’s hottest salsa.  And yes, I’ve tried them all.  It took a couple of months to get up the nerve to try the hottest, but I did it!

First, let’s talk about the jellies.  Many competition BBQ pitmasters use jelly for their glazes.  Some use apple jelly, some use grape jelly, and some use pepper jelly.  Pearl Snap offers Jalapeno Pepper, Habanapple, Habanero Pepper, Ghost Pepper, and Scorpion Pepper Jellies.  Forget apple jelly when making your next batch of rib glaze.  Want that perfect, sticky, shiny glaze with a little heat?  After you try the HabanApple, an apple-based jelly with the kick of Habanero peppers, you’ll never go back to regular apple jelly again.  With what else can you eat it?  Pull out those biscuits, smear with butter and HabanApple jelly, and you’ll be singing hallelujah even before going to BBQ church!  Joyce Shieldnight, Brian’s mother and master canner, made a few other suggestions that we tried.  Got a sore throat or congestion?  Add a teaspoon of Habanapple jelly to your favorite hot tea instead of sugar or honey.  Another favorite was adding a tablespoon of Jalapeno Pepper Jelly to cornbread mix to give it a little kick.  The Scorpion Pepper Jelly and Ghost Pepper Jelly are both perfect over cream cheese.  The Scorpion is hot!  The Ghost Pepper definitely has some heat to it, but it’s absolutely awesome on a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich!

The Salsas range from “Sweet No Heat” to “Atomic.”  All are made with all-natural ingredients.  They cannot label it as organic because they use a municipal water source, but none of their salsas have any added ingredients, such as oils or extracts.  They are made with homegrown products and do not separate or settle as other store bought brands.  The three varieties most popular with the “general public” are the Sweet with No Heat, a mild salsa perfect for family taco night; Miss Debbie K’s, a medium heat salsa; and Red Rain, a hot salsa.  Notice, I didn’t say their “hottest” salsa.  Pearl Snap has two more varieties that are extremely hot.  

The Pepper X Salsa has 10 of the hottest peppers known to mankind, including the Ghost Pepper and Scorpion Pepper.  Ghost peppers range from 855,000 to 1,041,427 Scoville heat units (SHU) on the pepper scale. Scorpion peppers range from 1,200,000 SHU to 2,000,000 SHU. The Atomic 12 Salsa has 12 peppers and includes the Ghost Pepper, all varieties of the Scorpion pepper, and also adds the Carolina Reaper.  As of 2014, the Carolina Reaper is currently the Guinness World Record holder for World’s Hottest Chile and ranges from 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU.

When asked about the Atomic 12, Joyce Shieldnight said, “LaPinta restaurant in Albequerque, NM, posted that they had the world's hottest salsa in 2012. Their SHU was 12,000.  They threw out a challenge to beat that.  They use the Moruga Scorpion Pepper, I believe.  My son, Brian picked up the challenge and ATOMIC-12 was born!”  Pearl Snap Salsa and Peppers had their salsa tested by Southwest Bio Labs in Las Cruses, NM, for a chemical analysis and recently applied to Guinness World Book of World Records to have their salsa analyzed.  According to Joyce Shieldnight, “We have "THE WORLD'S HOTTEST NATURAL SALSA," the heat coming only from the natural ingredients: no additives such as pepper extracts, capsaicin, or other oils.  The Lab results of our Scoville Heat Unit  analysis was...are you ready for this?  79,100 SCOVILLE HEAT UNITS!  We will provide a copy of the lab results for anyone who is interested in them and asks for them.  Our ATOMIC-12 (or A-12 as we call it around here) is literally more than six times hotter than LaPinta's!”

So, if you need to spice things up in your life or if your BBQ sauce or glaze needs a little heat, you should try Pearl Snap Salsa.  Let me forewarn you: “A little dab will do you!”  The Atomic 12 is a slow build and continues to heat up for several minutes.  It has a really good, full pepper flavor that you get to enjoy about 35 seconds before the heat becomes too much.  My recommendation is that you add a pea size drop to your bowl of chili and stir well!    
Pearl Snap Salsa and Jellies can be purchased online at

Photo by Vernee Green-Myers/The Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
Pearl Snap Salsas, Jelly, and Relish.

Photo by Vernee Green-Myers/The Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
Pepper X and Atomic 12 ingredients.

Photo by Vernee Green-Myers/The Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
Atomic 12...A little dab will do ya!

Photo by Vernee Green-Myers/The Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
After 35 seconds, it brought tears to my eyes.

Photo by Vernee Green-Myers/The Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
Six minutes later, the heat is still rolling!

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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