This is the second installment in a series of articles titled, "31-Days to Better BBQ".
As you embark on your own personal barbecue journey, it will pay huge dividends if you take 30-minutes and ponder on your short, medium and long-term goals for your bbq effort. Making a few mental notes, or better yet writing them down, will serve you well in your quest.
Why are goals important?
Goals are kind of like a road map. They will serve as your own personal compass and road atlas to help you navigate your way throught the highs and lows of your journey. Setting some goals will help you identify and quantify your level of commitment, both personal and financial, to your bbq endeavors. Just like in life, there is no free lunch in bbq either.
Here's some quick thought starters to help get you going....
1) Do you want to learn to cook bbq for your own personal enjoyment and for family and friends, or are your goals oriented more toward the personal chef, catering for small and large groups, or do you think you want to become a a restaurant owner/operator?
2) Have you seen a bbq program featured on the Food Network, thought it was interesting and want to try to create your own pulled pork, slow-smoked brisket, or chicken so moist it almost melts in your mouth?
3) Will this be a weekend endeavor, or a full-time occupation?
4) Are you exploring the idea of competing in bbq contests, or will this be a backyard hobby?
5) Do you have experience cooking bbq already?
6) Are you ready to take your efforts to the next level?
Learning to cook good bbq requires devotion, practice, and a reasonable level of commitment...in varying degrees. Depending on your answers above, some professional training may be in order.
For example, if you want to turn bbq into a business, your first order of business should be a visit with the local health department office, or at the very least a phone call and quick perusal of their web site if your county offices provide this information online.
If your interests are focused on competing, your considerations should include time spent talking to others who compete, talking to judges, or becoming a member of a bbq association. Volunteering to assist another experienced team for a few contests is also a worthwhile possibility to consider.
Once you've identified some of these things, you will be better prepared to proceed with the wonderful world of barbecue. You can skip this step, but if your serious, I urge you to spend some time weighing these questions and forumlating your own answers before you invest a lot of time and money into barbecue. In this way you'll spend your energy more effectively and you won't be dissapointed later.
As another example, after you've invested heavily in equipment to start your new catering business, it would be disheartening to find out from the health department that you must operate from a "certified" or "commercial" kitchen, which may or may not be cost prohibitive.
And yet another example, imagine how you'd feel after you purchase a new $20,000 offset smoker and have it delivered only to discover that you'll have to purchase a new vehicle with enough towing capacity to transport it to bbq contests.
If there are readers who have experienced any of these situations and want to share some words of wisdom for the benefit of the group, your coments are welcome.
Read the previous post in the series.