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A day with the Pitmasters

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

More News

‘Real Bar-B-Que: An Elusive Meat’: 4th Grader Makes Audience Salivate

A National Barbecue News Special

TALLAHASSEE, FL — “If I asked, ‘Want some Bar-B-Que?’  Would you say, “Sure!” or “No thanks”?  If the answer is “no,” I would speculate that you have not had real Bar-B-Que. Why? Because if you have had it, you couldn’t say no.

“The problem? Real Bar-B-Que is elusive.”

With those words, for the third time, Hawks Rise Elementary 4th Grade student Sloan Finger began his quest to win yet another level of the annual 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Contest.

The Public Speaking Contest grew from a single teacher’s efforts in Palmetto, Florida.  “Designed to give students experience in the preparation and delivery of a speech,” what began with Mrs. Inez Pettigrew in 1952 has, through the hard work of 4-H extension offices, “expanded to accommodate hundreds of thousands of students all over the state of Florida” today.
Sloan, with his speech entry, researched and explained the cooking, or as he relayed, “smoke it low and slow” process that produces “Real Bar-B-Que.”

He addressed the fact that people, incorrectly, “believe that by simply adding Bar-B-Que Sauce to the top of a meat, it makes it Bar-B-Que.” And he spoke to the injustice perpetrated on students at “my old school, (where) they made Sloppy Joes, and called them Bar-B-Que sandwiches.”

Sloan also emphasized that “grilling hotdogs and hamburgers quickly over an open flame is not, just like those Sloppy Joes at my old school, I repeat, not Bar-B-Que!”

After earning 1st place in two qualifying rounds, he advanced to the county-wide competition where his efforts garnered 3rd place in a process that began with more than 4500 participating 4th and 5th grade students from 35 different schools.

After the awards program, Sloan was literally sought out and pigeon-holed by multiple people inquiring, as if he were an Ambassador, about the location of “Real Bar-B-Que” restaurants and the whereabouts of his “family M-E-A-T-I-N-G-S.”

But the true impact of his speech is best judged by the fact that when he went for some celebratory BBQ afterwards, multiple families from the speech contest suddenly showed up, unbeknownst to Sloan and his family, at the restaurant.  They each pointed to Sloan and told the restaurant owner, “His speech is why we are here!”

The owner then offered to comp Sloan’s meal, because he recognized, at the end of the day, like the end of Sloan’s speech, “the highlight is: a beautiful-pink-smoke-ring on a melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy piece of pulled pork.  The taste: FABULOUS!

 “And if you have ever had this elusive meat known as Real Bar-B-Que, believe me, you couldn’t say no!”


Editor’s note: To view Sloan’s award winning speech in its entirety, please visit homepage.

Submitted photo
Sloan Finger with his 4-H Tropicana Public Speaker Contest award after giving a speech on “Real Bar-B-Que: An Elusive Meat.”

Submitted photo
The Finger family enjoys some of the “elusive meat.”


Giving back & showing our appreciation

As we think about our 25 years of serving the barbecue community, nothing has touched us greater than being able to use our barbecue skills and talents to give back and show our appreciation. We had an opportunity to do this several times, but two that come to mind first off are shown below. Both are totally different situations, but both gave us memories that we will never forget.

Cooking for a cause: OBR feeds Alabama tornado victims
published March 2012

By NBN Cooking Crew

On January 23, 2012, a series of powerful storms produced several tornados that touched down in Clay and Jefferson Counties in Alabama, just outside of Birmingham. These tornados were rated at F3 status and claimed the lives of two victims. The tornados hit at approximately 3:30 a.m. with very little warning. The destruction was massive, and soon after, a call for volunteers to help went out.

On Friday, January 27th, we had our cook wagon loaded up and headed to join forces with Gary and Dionn Lanton who had set up at Clearview Baptist Church as a part of Operation BBQ Relief (OBR). Once we arrived, we got busy filling our pits with all types of food and wound up feeding about 4,000 victims and volunteers by Sunday afternoon.

A huge shout out go to all the folks who made this happen, including Lynn Entrekin, her brother Scott Gorham, her dad Jim Gorham, and the rest of her crew who helped organize things, as well as supplying her smoker for use. Pastor Robbie opened up his church social hall, and Father Ed’s church donated a pile of the meat we cooked. Both deserve a big thanks as well. Red Diamond, Inc., Sam’s Club, Publix, Wood Fruittcher Foods, Max Packaging, St. Joseph’s Angelican Church, The Mason’s Lodge, Academy Sports, Evan’s Meats, Bubba Q’s, Grissom High School (Jr. Civitan Club), Clearview Baptist Church, Royal Oak Charcoal, and the National Barbecue News all donated products to the cause. This could not have been done with out them! Together the whole operation had over 75 different volunteers who helped and made plates, delivered goods, and everything you can imagine.

I urge you to join OBR and get involved with this group of folks who are more than willing to make a difference when things like this happen. You can find more info about this group on their website at

Photo by NBN Cooking Crew
Bailey Phelps helps take burgers off the smoker during the OBR relief effort in Alambama in 2012.

Cooking for our American troops pays off big!

published December 2012
By Kell Phelps, NBN Publisher

On November 17, 2012, I was given the opportunity to help a group cook for 104 soldiers who were stationed at Fort Stewart, GA. Lynn Entrekin, Ron and Nancy Montgomery, and myself made up the team that cooked and served the troops. The menu consisted of ribs, chicken, rib tips, baked beans, potato salad, corn on the cob, and for dessert Nancy prepared her award-winning orange cake. While there, our main contact was Sergeant Major Jason York who treated us like family and was actually childhood friends with Lynn. Needless to say, we didn’t want for anything and even had a great steak bought for us on Friday evening after getting set up.

I missed an opportunity like this several years ago and have regretted it ever since, but I don’t think I’ll miss another one if given the chance. I really cannot express how gratifying it is to give back something for a group who have offered themselves for you. The few hours we worked on the meal can nor will ever repay them for their service, but it sure made me proud to at least do something. The experience left me wanting to do a pile more for each and every soldier who attended. I only hope I get to do this again sometime soon.

If you ever have a chance to cook for any type of American soldier, then I suggest you make every effort possible to do just that. I guarantee you will not forget it nor regret it.

Until next month...Keep it Smokin’!

Photo by Nancy Montgomery
Ron Montgomery, Lynn Entrekin, & Kell Phelps at Fort Stewart
Army Base in Hinesville,


A special dinner for your favorite Valentine

By Paul Kirk CWC, Ph.B., B.S.A.S.
Kansas City Baron of BBQ
Barbecue Guru
Order of the Magic Mop
Ambassador of BBQ
Certified Master BBQ Judge



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