Sunday, July 29, 2007

BBQ Rub Secret

Do you have a favorite bbq rub? Are you wishing that it had a little more salt flavor or wish it was a little sweeter?

Instead of buying more rub, tweak the rub you've been using by adding a little more salt, more sugar, or a little of both.

I started out my bbq hobby with Head Country All Purpose Seasoning. It's a basic bbq rub that has been used in bbq competitions with much success. In fact, I predict it's the basic formula that many, many bbq teams are using for their brisket rub. It's a little tame for my tastes, but that's easily cured by adding some white pepper, a little more cayenne, or fresh ground pepper to the mix.

For bbq spare ribs, try equal parts Head Country and brown sugar. If you don't get the results you hoped for add more or less sugar and try it again.

If you'd like to buy some of my personal brisket rub, visit You won't be dissapointed.

BBQ Blog Statistics

The BBQ Blog is grateful for each and every visitor that drops by to check us out. I'm always amazed at how many international visitors the blog receives. I thought I'd share some statistics to demonstrate just how popular the sport of bbq has become around the world.

If you have a bbq oriented web site and would to exchange links with us, please send me an e-mail or leave a comment below.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Friday, July 27, 2007

Home Grown Honey for Barbecue

I suspect that most barbecuers use honey in their bbq process at some point. Whether they add honey to a commercial bbq sauce to "improve it" or whether they make their own bbq sauce from scratch, there's most likely some honey involved.

I've made posts in the past about knowing your beekeeper and buying local honey. Today I thought I'd share a little knowledge about becoming a bee keeper and having your own "private" supply of honey in your backyard.

The University of Georgia offers a "how to" institute and education program called the "Georgia Master Beekeeper Program" and makes lecture notes available to anyone that wants to read them. They also have some pictures from previous institute programs. There's a vast range of information available about honey bee biology, preparing to keep bees, and other winter and spring management considerations. It probably won't enable you to start your own hives, but it's definitely a good place to start learning about bees.

My brother-in-law and nephew keep bees at my father-in-laws farm in Tennessee and based on about 7-years of observation, keeping bees is a lot of hard work during certain times of the year, but very rewarding at harvest time.

We've become their best customers and purchase more than $100 of Tennessee clover honey each year. It pays to be nice to your beekeeper. Store bought honey just doesn't measure up.

BBQ Secrets!

BBQ History

History of Barbecue in the South

A University of Virginia graduate student has prepared a thesis documenting the origins of barbecue in the south. Whether you are barbecue pro or amateur, backyard cook or barbecue expert...the attached article will teach something you didn't know about barbecue.

She has documented barbecue from a historical perspective and also included some recipes .

There's even a barbecue bibliography if you would like to research the subject further.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

BBQ State Championship

I've noticed a trend developing in bbq contests. There are multiple contests that are called "state championships" in the same state.

The declaration as a "state" championship suggests that winning that contest makes you THE state champion. Imagine winning the "state championship" and later finding out that there are 4 - 5 other teams certified as "state champions" in the same state.

If the state champion from each of the 50 states advance to a national championship such as the American Royal , I'd expect there to be a maximum of 50 teams in the national championship event.

Multiple champions from each state at multiple contests that are called "state championships" kind of lessens the significance of the accomplishment in my mind.

Does the NFL crown multiple Superbowl Champions? Does MLB crown multiple World Series champions? Does more than team win the College Football National Championship?

Then why do bbq sanctioning bodies feel the need to crown multiple state champions?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Alton Brown: Feasting on Asphalt

Don't you just love Alton Brown?

I watched the Food Network program Next Food Network Star marathon yesterday. Alton Brown was featured heavily in a couple of episodes.

Besides his regular Good Eats and Iron Chef America programs I really enjoyed Feasting on Asphalt episodes last year.

The second season of Feasting on Asphalt begins later this month. If it's anything like last year, it's going to be a "must see". I envy the guy. Not only does he get to eat at some cool restaurants in out of the way places, but he gets to ride his motorcycle around the country and get paid for it!

If you're in Nashville or will be there on August 12, you can get up close and personal with Alton Brown at Gaylord Opryland Hotel. He will be featured as part of the celebrity chef series.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How to BBQ Like a Pro

A lot of would be bbq competitors are a little apprehensive about entering their first bbq contest. It's natural. The fear of the unknown is a powerful emotion.

Rule #1: Don't believe anyone or anything you read on bbq message boards until you've had a chance to try it out for yourself first.

What started out as a "how to" phenomenon on the web has turned into an ego-fest on some of the discussion groups. As a guy that grew up in Missouri and someone that has spent the last several years reading about bbq on the web, sometimes you've got to "Show-Me" before I fully embrace and believe the advice I read about on discussion boards as THE ONLY definitive method for cooking barbecue. There's more than one way to cook prize winning barbeque. Just because Billy Joe Bob Smith cooked in two or three bbq contests 10-years ago and won a few trophies, that doesn't make him the bbq "authority".

Rule #2: Keep your cooking area neat and clean.

There's nothing less appealing about cooking food than an unclean cook or an unclean food prep area. If you want to be taken seriously as a bbq competitor, you need to keep your cooking area clean.

Rule # 3: Set a budget and stick to it.

Competitive barbecue is one sport where bigger and more expensive is not always better. There are people cooking on $250 smokers they transport to bbq contests in the back of their mini-vans and pick-up trucks who are beating the living daylights out of the $20,000 rotisserie smokers mounted on trailers and people driving $150,000 motorhomes. You don't have to keep up with the bbq Jones to compete in bbq contests.

Rule #4: Establish realistic goals and practice, practice, practice.

It's very difficult to win a bbq contest. There's 1 chance in a 1,000 that a bbq team is going to win the first bbq contest they enter. After you compete for a while, you'll begin to make subtle changes to your technique that gradually improve your results.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

BBQ Concession Trailer For Sale

If you're looking for the ultimate bbq concession trailer eBay is a good place to start your search. A local company located in Brandon, FL, Olympia Blends Products and Services, LLC has a brand new 8 X 32 ft bbq concession trailer for sale on eBay. They also sell an eBook about starting a concession business that sounds promising.

Here's a list of some of the NSF certified equipment installed in the Wells Cargo trailer posted in the advertisement:

-NSF APPROVED 96” long commercial hood system with grease extracting exhaust fan
-NSF APPROVED commercial stainless steel 23 cu. ft. stand up refrigerator manufactured by True, model T-23
-NSF APPROVED commercial stainless steel 23 cu. ft. stand up freezer manufactured by True, model T-23F
-NSF APPROVED commercial stainless steel 23 cu. ft. solid door stand up heated cabinet manufactured by True, model TH-23
-NSF APPROVED commercial 2 well LP steam table (spillage pans and inserts not included)
-NSF APPROVED 18” stainless steel work top table with an adjustable underneath shelf
Three - NSF APPROVED commercial 40 LB LP fryers with 2 baskets each
-NSF APPROVED 36” commercial LP flat top griddle
-NSF APPROVED 36” commercial stainless steel equipment stand with an adjustable underneath shelf for griddle
-NSF APPROVED commercial LP Ole Hickory Smoker with revolving racks and foot switch, model EL-IB (includes smoke extractor and cook and hold gauge to monitor meat - cooking capcity: Ribs (3 & down) - 60, Baby Back Ribs - 90, Boston Butt - 50, Turkey - 30, Chicken (whole) - 50 (half) - 135, Brisket (12 lb) - 40, not to mention you can access this smoker from the inside of your concession so you don't have to walk in and out of the unit to feed your customers
-96” long stainless steel backsplash under the hood
As they say, "quality doesn't come cheap."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mothership BBQ Closes Doors

I am sorry to say that Nashville bbq restaurant Mothership BBQ is no longer open for business at it's original location. I've been following it's progress on their blog from the beginning and I am sorry to hear that things didn't go as planned. However, I'm happy to report that a new and improved version is on the way to another well-deserving Nashville neighborhood.

Mothership demonstrates the power of the Internet when launching a business. The restaurant received a huge amount of free publicity and notoriety in Nashville that is attributable to it's high profile home on the world wide web.

According to the blog, the owner is forming a new partnership with some investors and actively looking for a new location. He's still looking for investor's that want to participate in the opportunity to build a bbq restaurant from the ground up. For a low, low investment of $5,000, you too can be in the bbq business. It sounds like a bargain to me. You get to own a restaurant, but you avoid the potential pitfalls associated with laying it all on the line.

Mothership did things the hard way--the old fashioned American way. The owner didn't buy a franchise or pay thousands to a consultant to learn the "right way" to do things. Nope. He had a dream and he followed it. Kudo's my friend.

KCBS Apparel Website

The Kansas City Barbeque Society recently opened an "official store" that offers KCBS gear for sale online.

The shirts on the web site are color coded according to your status with the KCBS sanctioning body. Gold represents a KCBS contest representative. Maroon represents a certified barbecue judge. The rank and file members of the KCBS are offered white shirts, either long sleeve or golf shirt style.

I understand the need for coloring coding to make it easy for competitors to identify contest representatives, but I'm not quite sure why the cook teams are stuck with basic white as the only color choice offered. Anyone that's ever competed in a barbecue contest knows that those white shirts won't be white for very long!

Friday, July 06, 2007

South Carolina BBQ Championshiop

The KCBS competition in Greenwood, SC at the Festival of Discovery is scheduled for July 13-14 . This 7th annual event is shaping up nicely. According to the contest website, there are 54 confirmed entries to date.

Download a team packet. Read food prep guidelines.

The contest has $12,000 in scheduled prizes and awards for winning teams.

I love South Carolina and if things weren't so hectic at my day job right, now Linda and I would make the trip to Greenwood for sure.

CBJ newspaper article

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Chris Lilly Cooking Class

Chris Lilly, world champion barbecue contest competitor and chef at Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, Alabama, is holding a cooking class. The class is being sponsored by the California BBQ Association. Lilly will be sharing the secrets behind his successful finishes at the American Royal and Memphis in May.

I've purchased a few of his "how to barbecue" videos and learned a lot. I met him at the Jack Daniels event a few years ago and I wholeheartedly recommend his cooking class to anyone that wants to learn the secrets of a true champion.

The cost of the class is $350 per person and $400 for couples.

Here's a newspaper article about the Mike Davis cooking class.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hell's Kitchen

After watching Hell's Kitchen tonight, I realized that when I first started cooking in bbq contests I must have looked an awful lot like chef Gordon Ramsay. The man definitely takes himself and cooking very seriously. In Hell's Kitchen there's a lot on the line--prize money, prestige, and the chance to soar to new heights as chef at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Las Vegas.

Our first professional bbq event was in Okeechobee, FL. Everything was a struggle. We struggled to set up our canopy, our cooking equipment, and just about everything else.
I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. The next day we struggled to prepare our samples for the four categories and finished in the lower half of the field.

At our next event we did a little better and actually won first place in the chicken category. At the third event we did a little better and our categories were more consistent overall. After a few more events everything flowed very well. As our stress levels declined, our overall results improved.

BBQ contests should not be stressful. The risk and reward ratio just doesn't allow for it. BBQ competitors that compete solely to win prize money are setting themselves up for dissapointment. There are certainly successful teams that do take this approach. They don't talk to passers by and don't talk to fellow competitors. In my mind, they are missing out on the joy of it all.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Foodio54 Restaurant Database

Foodio54, a new website that provides restaurant ratings and information, serves a two fold purpose. On the one hand, the web site helps readers find interesting local restaurants to visit through an innovative online search functionality that is integrated with Google Maps. On the other hand, readers are encouraged to "review" or "rate" the restaurants to benefit others who might (or might not) want to visit a particular restaurant.

I tried a "bbq" search for the city where I live and received no results, but a search for Tampa, FL returned 19 restaurants within 25 miles. The search returned one restaurant that I wouldn't necessarily call a bbq place (John's Steak and Seafood), but I think the site does provide a valuable service to visitors.

I always like to give restaurants the benefit of the doubt when I've had a bad experience and give them a second chance at some point. Others who are not as forgiving as I am can share their less than perfect dining experiences on the web site.

Out of personal curiosity, and as a further test of the Foodio54 search function, I performed a second search for Nashville, TN. The search returned 11 restaurants within a 25 mile radius. The search did not include some of the better known restaurants that serve bbq in the area, but since the web site depends upon input from its' visitors to populate the database that's understandable.

Check out Foodio54 and see if your personal favorite is listed and if it's not yet there, why not add it to database?

Rocky Mountain Barbecue Association

I've spent the past week visiting several western states including Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado.

After exploring some of the obvious and not so obvious tourist attractions, I noticed that the barbecue doesn't appear to hold the same level of excitement in the plains and rockies that it holds here in the southeast. I'm happy to report on a new bbq web site that hopes to change that.

The Rocky Mountain Barbecue Association has pages that list KCBS contests, bbq contest results, a bbq forum, and bbq news that pertains to the region.