Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BBQ Themed Aprons

I wish we'd have known about Irene Shurson's when we were putting together our bbq team shirts and aprons for our competition effort a few years ago.

Here are two sample pictures:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mike's Smokehouse BBQ & Grill in Tampa

Linda and I ate lunch at Mike's Bar-B-Que in Tampa recently. It's located at 7117 N US Highway 301 near I-4. The restaurant has seating for 30-35 inside and room for another 20-25 on an outside patio.
Mike Andrews used to have a 2nd location in Brandon, but that restaurant is now closed. The St. Petersburg Times featured an article titled "The Ripple Effect", which included a few paragraphs about Mike's. According to the newspaper article, the restaurant that used to employ 28 now has 5 employees.
I urge you to support your local restaurant owners. After reading the newspaper article, I think I'll be going back to Mike's again soon. If you're in the area, stop by for lunch.
I had the pulled pork plate with fried okra and hushpuppies. The okra is breaded on the premises and the hushpuppies were good. The place was packed for Saturday lunch. I'm glad to see it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

BBQ Food Safety

Nothing can ruin a fantastic day of barbecuing faster than someone getting sick after eating food you prepared. Whether you are grilling in the back yard, catering for a group of friends and family, or preparing bbq food in a restaurant for hundreds of customers each day, you need to follow safe food preparation techniques.

Keeping it cold

When shopping for food, purchase meat and poultry just before you leave the store. Food in the grocery store is stored at temperatures of below 40 degrees and needs to maintained below 40 degrees whenever possible. Food should be referigerated after the drive home as soon as possible. Allowing the temperature of the food to rise above 40 degrees for any length of time increases the possibility of bacteria growth.

Vacuum seal bulk purchases

I often purchase food in bulk to save money. Meat that is not going to be consumed within a couple of days should be frozen. I like to vacuum seal large quantities into smaller packages. For example, if we buy a package of 16 pork chops, I split the chops into packets of 4, vacuum seal them, mark the package with the date, and then place it in the freezer until we are ready to prepare them.

Avoid cross-contamination

As meat begins to thaw, juices can sometimes escape the packaging and cross-contamination can occur. Vacuum sealing is another way to help prevent cross-contamination between meat and poultry when storing or transporting food. When handling chicken, thoroughly wash your hands and any knives and utensils with hot, soapy water before using the utensils to cut other meat.

Marinate Properly

Always marinade meat and poultry in the refrigerator. Contrary to some advice I've read recently on a very popular bbq forum, never, never, allow meat to marinade at room temperature. Meat should be marinated in the refrigerator. When removing marinated food from the refrigerator, place it directly on the smoker or grill for cooking.

Cooking temps

Pre-heat your cooker to ensure that you attain a 140 degree internal meat temperature within 4 hours. Do not allow meat to remain in the danger zone (i.e. greater than 40 degrees and less than 140 degrees) for more than 4 hours.

For more food safety tips and information, there's a nice article on the USDA website that should help.

Frisco BBQ Challenge

BBQ contest announcement:

When: June 19 and 20, 2009
Where: Frisco, Colorado
Entry fee: $200
Prizes: $15,000
Sanctioning and Rules: KCBS

This long running contest (16 years) is a state qualifier for the Great American BBQ, American Royal, and Jack Daniels World Invitational Championship.


I received a notice today regarding a CASI chili contest in High Springs, FL and wanted to share it for anyone that might be interested.

WHEN: Saturday March 28th 2009
WHERE: O’Leno State Park, High Springs, FL
The park is located 6 miles north of High Springs on Hwy 41.

Entry fee is $20 per team.
CASI rules apply.
You can find the rules at WWW.CHILI.ORG

I've been threatening to compete in a chili contest for a few years, but for some reason I've never made it a priority. Who knows, maybe this is THE year to do it. It sounds like fun.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

BBQ on the Internet

The more I learn about bbq, the more I feel compelled to share it with others. What better medium than the internet? All I need is a key board and an internet connection.
As this website approaches 700 posts, I feel the need to say thank you to everyone who reads or visits this blog. Whether you are a long-time reader, casual observer, or you arrived here via a link from another bbq website for the first time - thanks for making my blog one of the most popular blogs about bbq on the internet.

I started this blog to share my experiences competing in bbq contests. We don't compete as often as we'd like to anymore, but until we can get back to it with more regularity, I've enjoyed sharing more general information that ranges from grilling, southern cooking, favorite products, bbq books, and equipment, etc.

I'm toying with the idea of hosting an "online bbq contest" later this spring. The traditional categories of taste, tenderness, and appearance would revert to appearance alone, since they haven't quite figured out how to teleport bbq samples over the phone lines. Instead of four entries, we'd keep it simple and limit it to one - your choice. Judging would include a documentation of the process and recipes used to prepare the entry. Winners would be determined by a reader vote.


1. cook one bbq entry -- chicken, ribs, pork butt, or brisket

2. submit the recipe and pictures documenting the process of preparing the entry

3. entries will be posted here on the blog and readers will vote for the winning entry

What do you think? Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

BBQ Contest at Auburn University

If you are an amateur or professional bbq team and you live within driving distance of Auburn, AL, there's a bbq contest March 27 and 28 that you might be interested in.

Here's some more information about Boda Getta BBQ:

Participating Teams



BBQ Photos

Thin Blue Smoke BBQ Novel

I offer my congratulations to Doug Worgul. His novel, Thin Blue Smoke, is now available at For those that read The BBQ Forum, you may remember that Mr. Worgul posted his progress on the first draft of the novel online for everyone to read. If my memory is correct, I believe the original working title was Smoke Meat.

Start a Catering Business

Have you ever wondered how to turn your interest in cooking into a part-time and eventually a full-time business?

I'm sure you'll find "Starting a Catering Business" business kit very useful. The kit contains many of the nuts and bolts involved in starting and running a professional and profitable catering business. From health regulations to sample forms and contracts to use when signing up customers, this kit contains a lot of valuable "insider" information.
You will benefit from this kit if you are:
-considering starting your own home-based catering business
-already worked for a catering service before and now are ready to start your own catering business
-ready to take your knowledge and experience of working with food and people and applying it to your own business
-thinking of making an income while working from home and being your own boss
This kit was designed to guide you with the information you will need to start and run a successful catering business. It offers many pointers that even experienced caterers will find useful.