Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tennessee Whiskey and BBQ Trail

It's the BBQ Guy's Wife at the George Dickel Distillery at Cascade Springs near Tullahoma, TN.

We visited the George Dickel Distillery yesterday near Tullahoma, TN.  If you are ever in the area, this free tour is worth your time. The tour guide took us on a tour of the brewing facilities and answered numerous questions during our 1 1/2 hours there. When at the Jack Daniels bbq cook-off a few years ago I missed taking the tour, but after talking to a few folks that have taken both I think the quality of the George Dickel tour might surprise you. The two distilleries are pretty close together. You could probably tour them both the same day and still have time to eat some local bbq too. And if you still have time, you could also stop by Prichard's Distillery in Kelso to check out a little known Tennessee rum distiller.

My sister-in-law works for the State of Tennessee and brought me a brochure today that lists some of the other "nice to see" places in the Middle TN area. You can get the list from They also list 18 bbq restaurants worth checking into.  I've eaten at Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint in Nolensville, Whitt's and Bar-B-Cutie many times (the latter two are nothing particularly special, but they have been successful businesses in the Nashville area for many, many years) and I know lots of people who have eaten lunch at Fat Boy's Bar-B-Q in Antioch regularly. I need to try some of the others on the list during a future visit. LawLer's Barbecue in Lewisburg and JP's Fine Swine Bar-B-Que in Woodbury sound promising.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pig of the Month

Linda hasn't gone back to work yet and sometimes watches Good Morning America to stay in touch with the news. A few weeks ago, GMA featured Pig of the Month Club, which is a bbq business based out of Dayton, Ohio. As a part of the holiday promotion, GMA announced a 50% off sale. Those of you who know Linda probably already know that she's got a soft spot for bargain shopping. She ordered some baby back ribs and four kinds of barbecue sauce to give it a try.

From the website:
By recreating our favorite barbecues from different regions, we’ve decided to make our own perfectly smoked barbecue ribs and lip-smacking sauces—and share the goodness with you! Pig of the Month offers ribs just the way all barbecue lovers want them: perfectly seasoned, tender-on-the-inside but crispy-on-the-outside, smoky, and mouthwatering—just tear-off-the-bones good barbecue. Our smoking technique is one that was perfected over many decades. (We didn’t just stuff ourselves full with all the barbecue; we also did research.)
Customer's can use the Create a Package feature on the website to pick and choose between pulled pork, ribs, and bbq sauce for home delivery.

Our ribs arrived pre-cooked and packed in cryovac and dry ice. She also ordered 4 kinds of barbecue sauce as a sample pack. The ribs can be reheated and served straight from the package and topped with some sauce in a few minutes time.

We ate a rack for supper and I took one for lunch the next day.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chef Noodles - Wixom Michigan BBQ Man

This morning the Detroit Fox Affiliate ran a feature story about Chef Noodles, a bbq man that sets up his bbq booth in a Wixom shopping center. 

I found another article about Chef Noodles from the Detroit CBS affiliate.  I used to read about a lot of parking lot bbq entrepreneurs a few years ago on various bbq discussion forums, but it seems like the desire to start a bbq business from a grass roots or boot strap effort is on the decline. 

As someone who has been toying with the idea of a drive thru - carry out style of bbq restaurant for several years after I caught the bbq bug 10 years ago, I admire his effort. I favor a lower and slower style of rib cooking, but a parking lot chef has to improvise, right?

He's been at for four years and he's not giving up yet. Way to go Chef Noodles! Good luck to you. If I'm ever in Wixom, I'm definitely going to stop by for some ribs or pulled pork. 

Here's another video about Chef Noodles:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Redneck Wine Glass

A wine glass made from a Mason jar complete with a screw on lid.

We were walking around a local antique mall last weekend and ran across a unique redneck gift item that I've never seen before. It's called a redneck wineglass. I didn't have a camera with me to snap a picture, but thanks to, there are plenty of listings that show you what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

FRANKLIN'S BATTLE OF THE BBQ: Experience an MBN Sanctioned Event

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Franklin's Battle of the BBQ will feature 30 competition and backyard barbecue teams on Friday Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 29, and the public can experience the Memphis BBQ Network-sanctioned event from behind the scenes. Presented by Heineken, the Battle of the BBQ is designed to give barbecue lovers a chance to taste the product, shadow the judges and vote for the People's Choice Awards.

"Last year, we were overwhelmed with people who wanted to taste the barbecue and learn more about how these competitions work, so we've added some opportunities for the public to participate," said Andy Marshall, owner of Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant and president of the Downtown Franklin Association. "From weekend VIP passes to the Friday Night Sauce Fight and Smoked Meat Feast party to Saturday's tasting in the Heineken tent, everyone can be a part of the action."

The weekend kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday night, when tomato, mustard and vinegar-based sauces will be judged by a panel of celebrities - Tennessee Titans Senior Assistant Coach Dave McGinnis is the latest to join the slate of judges. For $50, the public can observe the competition, enjoy free beer from Heineken and live music from the ConSoulers, and indulge in a Smoked Meat Feast from Puckett's Grocery and Restaurant that features barbecued lamb shank, smoked salmon Memphis Style, chicken sausage jambalaya, red beans and rice with smoked sausage, beef brisket chimichangas and more, along with a wonderful selection of side dishes.

A limited number of weekend VIP passes are available for $125, as part of the BBQ Lovers Dream Weekend package. In addition to Friday night's festivities, VIP ticket holders will have an opportunity to spend the day Saturday with the MBN competition judges, observing the process, touring the professional barbecue trailers, and getting a behind-the-scenes look at the scoring process while sampling the product of the nation's best competitive barbecue smokers. Unlimited access to the Heineys and Butts tent on Fourth Avenue South is included.

On Saturday afternoon, the competitors will submit their entries to the MBN judges, with $10,000 in cash and prizes to be awarded to the professional and backyard teams. Pro categories include ribs, pork shoulders and whole hog, and the backyard grill masters will compete in ribs, chicken and beef.

Afterward, as Pumpkinfest winds down, the party will kick off on Main Street, with bands from the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s playing on the Five Points Stage until 9 p.m.

The public will have the opportunity to taste five samples of pulled pork for $5, and may purchase competition ribs for $1 per bone, on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the Heineys and Butts tent on Fourth Avenue South.

Anyone who tastes can cast a vote in the People's Choice Awards. The awards ceremony for all categories will be held at 6 p.m.

To purchase VIP tickets for Friday night or the weekend, visit

Franklin's Battle of the BBQ is produced by the Downtown Franklin Association, a nationally certified Main Street Program of the National
Trust and a division of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. Proceeds from the BBQ competition go to the continued revitalization

and promotion of Historic Downtown Franklin. To learn more, visit

Monday, October 10, 2011

Plant City Pig Jam - Plant City Florida

PLANT CITY, Fla. – October 10, 2011 – Saturday, November 19, top teams from throughout the country will compete at the ninth annual Plant City Pig Jam State BBQ Championship. The event is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Randy L. Larson Softball Four-Plex, 1500 S. Park Rd. in Plant City.

About 70 teams will compete in this Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) sanctioned event, to win big money, ribbons and trophies, and bragging rights.

For the rest of us, it’s a chance to enjoy some of the country’s best barbecue ribs, pork, brisket and chicken. There will also be plenty of opportunity during the event to ask cooks about their pits, the wood they use, how they prepare their meat, and the cooking temperatures they prefer. Guests can also check out some of the barbecue-related items that will be for sale such as rubs and sauces, books and videos, pins and paraphernalia relating to individual teams. Sno-cones, lemonade, beer and other refreshments will also be available.

Kids will be entertained in the children’s play area where there will be a rock climbing wall, moon walk and other activities. And, live telecasts of all football rivalries will be broadcast in the beer tent. Ace Jackson and the Jump Kings Band will perform live music in the afternoon.

There is also a raffle, thanks to The Hay Exchange that donated a Big Green Egg grill package, and a YETI® cooler. Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the Plant City Chamber or at any Chamber event. All proceeds benefit the Chamber Foundation's Scholarship Fund.

Admission to Pig Jam is free, and parking is $5 per vehicle.

Pig Jam is hosted by the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce. For more information, contact the Chamber at 813-754-3707, or log on to Follow Pig Jam on Twitter at, or become a fan on Facebook at

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Great Lakes Regional Chili Cookoff

Linda and I attended the Great Lakes Regional Chili Cookoff today in Plymouth, MI.  It's been a long standing tradition in downtown Plymouth for more than a decade.

From the GLRC website:

Winners of the Great Lakes Regional Chili, Inc cook-offs qualify to compete at the International Chili Society (ICS) World's Championship Chili Cook-off.  The ICS is the largest food contest, festival organization in the world.

We sampled five different samples from various cooks. We tried a mild chili with ground beef and beans that was obviously made for sampling only since it didn't follow the rules for ICS. It was similar to what we make at home.  There was a medium hot traditional red chili with tri tip and a relatively hot (for me anyway) traditional red chili with tri tip. We also sampled two chili verde offerings with a lot of green peppers and chicken for meat.

My favorite chili from a contest perspective was the traditional red sample of hot chili, but if I was going to eat a big bowl for supper, I would lean toward the chili verde with chicken.  A contest sample isn't the kind of thing you can sit down and eat a bowl of.

For People's Choice I voted for MM Chili.

And if you want to try your hand at contest chili, has a listing of recipes from the winners of the last several Terlingua International Chili Championship events.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Boneheads BBQ

Linda and I took a short drive to Willis, Michigan after work to eat at Boneheads BBQ

I had brisket and Linda had the St. Louis ribs.

The restaurant is in a restored historical building.  The dining room is on the small side for the dinner rush.  With a full restaurant, it becomes a little crowded. At our table for two, the table for 5 next door was a distraction.  We heard about scare crows, gardening, and the recent phone calls to great-grandmother. It was hard to carry on a conversation because their conversation was on the loud side.

Based on the name - Boneheads BBQ - I expected a menu focused on primarily traditional bbq, but they also offer many other items like seafood and prime rib.

The bbq brisket was actually pretty good.  The rib I bummed from Linda's plate was on the average side, but I've had ribs in other restaurants that were much, much worse.

Before anyone draws a conclusion that I didn't like the restaurant, I should add that we do plan to return again. It's slightly above average restaurant barbecue, but they don't concentrate solely on serving barbecue items.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

BBQ Store

I have been thinking about the possibility of starting an online bbq store.  I marketed my own products for several years, but recently I've identified a void in the market place for purveyors of high quality bbq products including bbq sauces and spice rubs.

Many of the business gurus I've read say that when starting a business you should do what you enjoy most. The theory is that if you would do it for free then it's more likely that you have the passion and energy to put in the hard work to build a business that's not likely to generate any tangible profits in the short term.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kansas City Style BBQ Rub Seasoning

I am cooking four pork butts today for a work event later in the week.  While at Sam's Club picking up the meat last night I realized that my favorite bbq rub is currently M.I.A. after our recent relocation to Michigan. The movers do a good job, but sometimes I wonder how certain things turn up in certain boxes.

On the way to the check outs I stopped by the spice aisle to pick up some of the key ingredients to make a bbq rub from scratch. I decided to save money buying stuff I already have and picked up two bottles of Kansas City Style BBQ Rub Seasoning with the famous Weber trademark label instead. (The rub is actually bottled by ACH Food Companies in Memphis, TN). Sam's had the 10 oz. bottle for $4.00. One bottle was enough to season three pork butts.

The rub has all the traditional ingredients you would expect to see in a quality bbq seasoning including turbinado sugar, salt, chili pepper, dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, paprika, red pepper, spices, spice extracts, and silicon dioxide (an anti-caking agent). One additional ingredient surprised me - soy.  I did a double take on the ingredients list, but it's there.

Apparently soy lecithin is a popular dietary supplement, but the most probable reason it's showing up this bbq rub is it's other common use in commercial food applications as an emulsifying agent.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Great Lakes BBQ Association

A few years ago when I moved to Michigan sanctioned bbq contests in the state were few and far between.  If you want to keep track of competitive bbq events in the region these days, then the Great Lakes BBQ Association website will help.

The next event is scheduled for August 26 - 27 in Monroe Michigan and my favorite event in Silver Lake Michigan will be held on September 9 - 10.

Friday, July 22, 2011

BBQ Game for iPhone and iPad

Today I received an e-mail regarding the Smokin' Brothers bbq simulation game for iPhone and iPad.  I am an Android user, so I wasn't able to test the game or provide an in depth review of it's features here on the BBQ Blog, but I did watch the You Tube trailer.  I've included it below for those of you who don't have access to iPhone or iPad, or for iPhone and iPad users who want to learn more about the game before trying it for yourself.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Marinating Ingredients for Ribs

As a bbq enthusiast, I like to experiement with different ingredients and methods of cooking.  I did this more so when cooking for competitions than I do now for personal eating or for family and work events, but I attempt to stay current with what some contest cooks are doing.

I'm not very good in competition with ribs because I can never seem to cut them properly to make them appealing to the eyes, but they still taste pretty good. Outside of a 3rd or 4th place rib category award here and there, my ribs are nothing spectacular for competition.

Tonight on one of the discussion forums I ran across a question about how to cook ribs using the following ingredients:

  • Margarine
  • Brown Sugar
  • Honey
  • Fruit Juice

I haven't tried margarine AND honey with the other ingredients, but I been foiling baby backs and spare ribs for years with pretty good results. I put 2 oz of Martinelli's apple juice and 2 oz of Welch's grape juice in the foil with the ribs meat side down when I foil.

Now that I've found the missing ingredients, it's time for a little more experimentation :-)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

What Makes a Great Restaurant?

I am sure the answer to that question varies from state to state, town to town, and person to person.  It also depends on the perspective of the customer or the perspective of the restaurant owner. But, I'd like to outline the answer to this question in my own words based on my own experience as a customer, as a restaurant employee, and as a former manager of a quick service franchised restaurant (non-barbecue related by the way).

1.  Above all else it must be clean. When you walk in to the restaurant is it inviting? Are the windows clean? Is the entry way uncluttered? Is the floor swept? Is the entry point easy to identify?

I'm continuously surprised and amazed at restaurants that fall short on most, or all of those basic considerations. If the glass door has hand prints all over it and it looks like it's not been cleaned in several days, can you imagine what the kitchen might look like?

2. How's the lighting?  Some may disagree with me, but I like a lot of natural lighting. I know a lot of "fine dining" establishments like to keep the lights down, but I'd prefer they turn the lights up a little. I always wonder what the low light is trying to compensate for. And besides, if it's dark inside it's kind of hard to judge my first requirement (see #1).

3. How are the prices?  I've paid $75 for a breakfast for two and I've paid $75 for a dinner for two, but I'd prefer to pay less. For a reasonable bbq dinner with meat and two sides, I'm comfortable paying $25 - $35. After all, are people likely to flock to a restaurant that charges $75 for dinner for two day in and day out? I'm sure there are exceptions - I can name a couple of non-bbq restaurants from own experience, but on the whole I doubt a lot of restaurants can stay in business long at $75. It kind of reminds me of that old business adage I hear from time to time:  "I'd rather have 1% of the efforts of 100 people (i.e. $1-$3 from 200 - 300 customers per day) than 100% of my own efforts (i.e. $10-$12 from a few handfuls of customers per day).

4. How's the food? Is it mainstream? I like variations of simple foods like chicken, pork, beef, and fish. I'm not a cous-cous fan, nor am I a fan of small portion sizes of "foo, foo" foods. I took French language courses in high school and college, but I don't speak or read it fluently any longer...and I don't like French food.

5. How's the service? Are the waitstaff friendly?  There's a steak place near Orlando that amazes me in this regard.  We were there eating with friends and I ordered my steak medium-well.  Understandably, some will say, "you don't go to a steak place and order anything more than medium", but I did and still do.  When they brought out my steak, it was still bleeding on the plate. I mean it was actually pooling. The steak was closer to medium-rare than to medium even. I can eat medium, and often do, but I can't eat steak that's still mooing. How do you predict that the waiter acted when I asked them to cook it a little more? If you guessed that he said something along the lines of, "We don't cook steaks to medium well. At finer steak houses, the steaks are cooked to medium at most." Really? I didn't want to make a scene or anything, but the rest of my meal was less than enjoyable. And yes, they did accept my payment for the overpriced steak that I could barely choke down.

I could go on and on about my dining experiences. I enjoy eating out, and as you may have a bbq cooking enthusiast and former restaurant employee for a variety of franchise quick service concepts...I also enjoy critiquing them.

And in case anyone is wondering, if I had a lot of extra money and the chance to open a restaurant I would gravitate toward a breakfast oriented diner concept. The profit margins are bigger and it's much easier to meet requirements #1 - #5.  There's only one way to cook bacon and sausage :-)

Friday, July 08, 2011

C & K Smoke House BBQ in Parrish Florida

Located in rural Florida between the communities of Ellenton and Parrish on Hwy 301, C & K Smoke House BBQ has been turning out pulled pork, ribs, and chicken since 2003.  It's an unassuming and simple white building, but it's pretty popular with local residents.


"...dry rubbed with an elite blend of flavorful seasonings and spices. The meat is slow-smoked over aged oak wood for the perfect flavoring that makes every meal, a mouth-watering, lip smacking experience...Our restaurant offers old fashion BBQ cuisine, side dishes, in a charming little Smoke House that is clean and friendly with a stunning country view."

My only regret is that I haven't been able to try the food.  I've driven by the restaurant several times, but it's always been before or after lunch time. :-(

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Slap Yo Daddy BBQ Video

This video was produced by a journalism student and also appeared on

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pig Roasting Video

I have had my eye on these pig roasters for a while now.  If I didn't aleady own 3 bbq smokers and a grill....I'd get one (I hope my wife doesn't see this). 

You can learn more at King of Pork

Friday, June 17, 2011

Michigan Rocks BBQ Nationals

I received the following press release today and wanted to share it for those in the area or anyone else that might want to travel for the event. I won't be competing in the event this year, but I plan to attend as a spectator.  (For those that don't already know -- I'll be moving back to Michigan later this year.)

Detroit (June 14, 2011)…Townsquare Live Entertainment and 104.3 WOMC - Detroit’s Greatest Hits station have teamed up to bring the debut of Michigan Rocks BBQ Nationals to Heritage Park in Taylor, MI. on Saturday, July 23.

BBQ Teams from Michigan and the surrounding area will go head-to-head in a contest to determine the regional Grand Champion. The competition will be fierce as the Pit Masters and their teams vie for cash, trophies and prizes in four categories: chicken, pork, brisket and ribs, as well as best all around. Festival attendees will have the opportunity to sample tasty BBQ recipes from the various teams.

The musical portion of the festival includes some serious rock tribute bands playing the hits of the Beatles (BritBeat), Aerosmith (Toys in the Attic), Led Zeppelin (Led-Hed), plus local favorite, Fifty Amp Fuse and a soon to be announced Jimmy Buffett tribute band.

Tickets, set at the family friendly price of just $10 (plus applicable service charges), can be purchased in advance at All tickets purchased in advance will include $4 worth of food and drink tickets. Children twelve and under get in free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Tickets are also available on the day of the event at the box office.

There’s something for everyone at Michigan Rocks BBQ Nationals as people of all ages can enjoy everything from a Beer Garden (21 and over) to a Kids Zone, all while sampling world class BBQ food.

“We are interested in giving folks a unique experience by combining delicious BBQ with great music and fun for the whole family,” according to Brian Rucker, Managing Director of Townsquare Live. “The teams are very serious about their cooking and the result is the best BBQ the region has to offer.” Arlie Bragg, America’s premier BBQ Promoter and head competition coordinator for the event brings 20 plus years of BBQ competition experience to the table. “Great BBQ, great entertainment, and professional-level production gives the BBQ Nationals a fresh look at an old tradition.” Arlie says. I look forward to making this series become THE premier BBQ competition series in America.”

Teams can register for the July 23rd Michigan Rocks BBQ Nationals at:

The winners will get the chance to participate in the BBQ Nationals Championship in Laughlin, NV on Oct. 22, 2011 where the first “BBQ Nationals Grand Champion” will be crowned. Michigan Rocks BBQ Nationals is produced by Townsquare Live Entertainment, a division of Townsquare Media.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Yoder Smokers Pellet Smoker Review

There's a nice review of the Yoder YS640 pellet smoker posted on  The video is available on  You can see the entire line of Yoder Smokers at

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Weekend of Grilling and Graduation Parties

Besides delivering the main course for Saturday afternoon's graduation party for my nephew Gus, who graduated from Kennessaw Mountain High School this weekend, I was also called upon for some impromptu grilling on my brother-in-law's propane grill (a definite rarity for me).

Bubba's Burgers almost finished

A little Kosher salt, black pepper, and Dale's marinade made these hamburgers pretty tasty.

When all else fails, marinade your pork loin chops in some Dale's Marinade for a couple hours prior to grilling. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Serrano Peppers for Salsas and Barbecue Sauce

Here's a picture of a serrano pepper growing in my backyard. 

A couple of years ago I started above ground gardening and after several trials and many errors, I've been successful in growing several pepper varieties in a simple, but very effective, hydropinc bubbler constructed from an inexpensive 18 gallon plastic tote.

At my house, we eat lots of green and orange bell peppers, cubanelles, poblanos and even some jalapenos now and then.  But the serrrano is a little out of my league. It's quite a bit higher up the Scoville heat scale than anything I could eat fresh from the garden.  When I purchased the seeds, I didn't pay much attention to the potential mouth scorching qualities of a "hot" pepper, but luckily I did a little research before plopping on in my mouth.

A jalapeno ranges 2,500 - 8,000 Scoville heat units, while a serrano ranges from 10,000 - 25,000 Scoville heat units.

Fortunately for me, one of my co-workers loves to make salsas. She took a batch of the serranos last week and made a batch of very tasty salsa that went well with a bag of Tostitos.

If you like hot bbq sauce, maybe you should consider growing your own hot peppers too. I can help if you're interested in building a cheap and easy hydropnic bubbler, but if you prefer the traditional gardening route, has a nice article you might find helpful.

Funny story....I was making ABT's last year from jalapenos and decided to casually munch on one while I was cleaning up.  Apparently someone put a green serrano pepper in the bin where the jalapenos were being stored at Publix. Ohhhcheewowow!! I grabbed ice cubes, milk, water and any other liquid I could get my hands on quickly.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

BBQ Pulled Pork - Vacuum Sealed and Frozen

I pulled the pork butts from the cooker around 4:30 p.m. 

This pork is being served at my nephew's graduation party next weekend, so after pulling and seasoning I placed the ready-to-serve pulled pork in a vacuum sealer bag.

I've been vacuum sealing and then freezing my leftover bbq for almost 7 years. It's great for storing leftovers and extras and just happens to work perfectly for pre-cooking 'que for family events.  Caterers and restuarants do it too!

Tip:  Take special care to make sure the plastic is laying flat on the sealer bar so it's not krinkled.  A krinkled bag might come open unexpectedly and cause freezer burn.

BBQ Pictures

I took this "smokey" picture on my cell phone
Here are a couple of low resolution pictures I took of my current bbq cook this morning. 

The baby backs are not very clear because of the smoke rolling out when I opened the door. The cell phone lens fogged up too apparently, with the change in temperature.

For the pork butts I'm trying a couple of different commercial rubs.  I am using the Oak Ridge BBQ Beef and Pork rub straight out of the container, but for the Bad Byron's Butt Rub, I added some additional brown sugar and turbinado sugar to take some of the sting out of the rub and balance out the saltiness.

15 lbs of pork butts
Before I get any of the Bad Byron's fans that may be reading this too riled up, I should explain.  I'm a big fan of the philosophy - "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  I've used Bad Byron's Butt Rub on my pulled pork for years, but I've noticed that some of my relatives favor a little less bite in their bbq. Sometimes that particular commercial rub tastes a little "peppery" and it has a strong salt flavor. After all, cooking bbq is a lot about knowing the audience that's going to be eating it.

Baby Backs and Pork Butts

After a night out enjoying the Florida Top Gun Sprints and Florida Mini Sprints at the local dirt track, I got up early to prepare the baby backs and pork butts for my nephew's graduation in Kennesaw next Saturday.

I started th fire, filled the water pan, added hickory chunks for smoke seasoning, and put the meat in the smoker. I set the time on my microwave for 99 minutes so remind me to check on the cooker later on. 

I checked back about 30 minutes later and, to my surprise, the fire had gone out on the cooker. Completely!

I've got it back under control now, but I just added about an hour to my cooking. :-(

Friday, May 20, 2011

Operation Kennesaw Graduation

Time Stamp 5/20/11 2200 hours  

"This is your mission, if you choose to accept it."

Misson:  Provide barbecued baby back ribs and pulled pork for up to 30 people.

Distance to Target:  Approximately 450 miles due North/Northwest

Geographical Vicinity:  Kennesaw, Georgia

Date:  Saturday - Memorial Day Weekend

Time:  Lupper (Lunch + Supper) will be served promptly at approximately 3 p.m. (give or take an hour)

Logistical Considerations: BBQ must remain viable after 6 hour commute over mostly interstate terrain.

Environmental Concerns:  Chance of rain. Chance of sweltering humidity.

Potential Threats:  BBQ could prove popular with guests. Evasive action may be required if quantities for seconds and thirds are not readily available. Prepare for this scenario by offering well-thought-out and believable explanations (aka "stories").

Friday, March 25, 2011

La Caja China - Semi-Pro Model

I've been following La Caja China roasting boxes online for many years.  Their roasting boxes sure have come a long way since I first read about them.  From a simple wooden box for $199 to a full-fledged catering quality set-up they recently announced for $1,250 - there's a grill for every budget. (The Semi-Pro Model is made from aluminum.) Here's a picture.

This new model has all the same distinct capabilities as the original La Caja China model #2, but an updated sleek look - diamond-cut metal exterior, steel angle legs with powder coating paint and bolt mounted handles - and some new bells and whistles like the drain valve, that makes it even easier to use. Inside measurement of the box 48x24x12, outside measurement of the box 60 l x 25 w x 39 h. weight is 120 lbs.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Trip to Quick "Q" B-B-Que

Yesterday we took an afternoon trip to St. Petersburg for a visit to Quick "Q" B-B-Que on Central Avenue.

Here are a few pictures:

 It's an unassuming store front located on Central Ave in St. Petersburg.

Linda ordered the 1/2 rack of ribs.  These untrimmed ribs had plenty of meat and were slathered heavily in sauce.  Next time she'll order the sauce on the side.  It was a little more sauce than she expected.

I had the bbq pork dinner served on a bun and two sides: baked beans and collard greens.

Simple and unassuming. Nothing fancy here. Leave your suits and ties at home.

 They also have a pretty funny video posted on You Tube:

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

So You Want to Sell BBQ Sauce?

I get questions about selling bbq sauce and bbq spice rubs frequently via e-mail.  I've written a few posts about my research previously, but thought I'd do a more recent post for anyone with similar thoughts.

If you want to start by bottling and selling your own bbq sauce recipe, you're probably looking at about $10,000 in start-up costs because most bottlers will only do it in fairly large batches. That's an estimate based on research I did several years ago, so it's likely even higher now.

I found a bottler a few years ago who would do small batch bottling (less than 500 gallons), but based on my experience this is somewhat risky. The bottler I was using went out of business before filling my order and he kept my deposit. He changed his name and relocated the business to another state, so I was completely out of luck. Other than filing a complaint with the State Attorney General's office, there was little else I could do.

If you want to put your label on someone else's recipe, you can probably pull that off for $3,000-$4,000 to start depending on how much your liability insurance costs, the corporate structure you choose, how much you want to advertise, and several other variables.

The best thing to do is do a Google search for private label bbq sauce suppliers. You'll likely find 5 or 6 possibilities within 15 minutes or less.

I decided to pursue bbq spice rub instead of bbq sauce. Spice rub has a much lower cost of entry than bbq sauce, but it's also a Catch 22 because bbq sauce sells much, much better.

Whatever you decide, I think the "gimmick" you have for your name and the design of your label and overall branding approach is much more important than your actual recipe.  The best bbq sauce in the world might not sell very well if you can't, or don't know how to market it.

In my personal opinion, taking the "selling it on the side to friends and family and at bbq contests" is not a viable business strategy.  I tried that for 4 years with my spice rub. And, although I did not lose money doing it, I didn't really make much either.