A person’s true colors can best be measured in times of crisis and need, especially when their participation in an effort to help is purely voluntary. Of all the groups of people we have been associated with over the course of our lives, we can, without hesitation, say that none are more caring and generous with their time and resources than our BBQ Family. Even as I type this, countless BBQer’s are deploying with Operation BBQ Relief to storm ravaged areas of Texas and Mississippi (if you want to donate to OBR click HERE). In 2015, the BBQ Family didn’t just help tens of thousands of strangers with a warm meal or shoulder to cry on, we helped one of our own.
Jim Burg, one of the best guys you’ll ever meet and one of our BBQ brothers, fell ill at a competition in April and after being rushed to the hospital was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and doctors weren’t sure he’d make it. The good news, Jim wasn’t listening to the doctors and wasn’t ready to leave his family and friends (I’m sure he had some briskets in the freezer that needed to be smoked too!). Over the past eight months Jim has been in and out of the hospital, but is making progress in the right direction. He even felt good enough to make the trek to Lynchburg, TN in October to cook the Jack!
As you can imagine, eight months of medical bills doesn’t come cheap and BBQ’ers around the country have been doing everything they can possibly do to help offset as much of the cost as possible. In July a group of BBQ’ers led the Burg BBQ Benefit and Concert and through the generous donations of many raised a large amount of money to help Jim and his wife. Donations came pouring in from the likes of Snake River Farms, Clark Crew BBQ, Hot Wachulas BBQ, Traeger, Meadowcreek, Yeti, BBQ Superstore, Atlanta BBQ Store, BBQ Guru, Swamp Boys, Mojobricks, Thermapen, Big Bob Gibson, Simply Marvelous, Smokin’ Hogz and Historic BBQ.
The efforts continue. We noticed a few weeks back that Swamp Boys BBQ auctioned off a spot in one of their upcoming BBQ classes. Thank you to everyone in the BBQ Family for once again proving in 2015 that there’s no family like the BBQ Family to take care of their own!
If you’d like to help the Burg’s out please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get your information to them.
The biggest BBQ Story of 2015 will be announced on tomorrow.
To date we’ve announced the 3rd through 10th biggest BBQ Story of 2015.
If you’re like us, and we know many of you are, you’re a BBQ entrepreneur who at some point was told by a family member or neighbor that, “your BBQ Sauce is the best I’ve ever had.” It doesn’t get much better than hearing those magical words. For many of us, it had led us to take our secret recipe, that was once only available at our backyard BBQ or as gifts packed with care at Christmas in recycled bottles, to the shelves of grocery stores around the country. It doesn’t take long for any of us to realize just how competitive the commercial barbecue sauce market is and how expensive it is to stay on the shelves while you build your brand. In the end we have one of two goals: 1) Build a powerhouse brand that becomes generational, something we can pass down to our children and they theirs or 2) Build a commodity that is sought after by larger brands and cash out. Both laudable goals, but easier said than accomplished. When we see a BBQ brand accomplish one or both of these goals, that’s reason for the rest of us to celebrate and know the hope remains alive for us to one day bask in the glory of attaining our goal.
In June McCormick & Co. agreed to purchase Stubb’s BAR-B-Q, for $100 million in cash. Congratulations to Stubb’s and here’s to the hope each of us BBQ entrepreneurs maintains that someday we may be so fortunate!
On December 29th we’ll unveil the 2nd biggest BBQ Story of 2015. The biggest BBQ Story of 2015 will be announced on December 30th.
To date we’ve announced the 4th through 10th biggest BBQ Story of 2015.
The biggest news in the world of competition BBQ in 2015 had nothing to do with the winner of a particular contest, the rise of the table of death or the angel table, or even the race for Team of the Year. In 2015, competition BBQ’s biggest story was the American Royal moving from the West Bottoms to Arrowhead Stadium.
The American Royal, the largest competition in the world of competitive BBQ and one of its most prestigious contests, began 36 years ago in the parking lot of the Golden Ox Restaurant in the West Bottoms. “We’ve enjoyed many great years in the West Bottoms. However, to continue to enhance the American Royal’s World Series of Barbecue for all competitors and patrons, we must go,” said John Mitchell, Jr., chairman, American Royal. “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Arrowhead Stadium at the Truman Sports Complex.”
“The American Royal is the crown jewel of the KCBS Sanctioned Contest Network. Kansas City has earned its reputation at the epicenter of the BBQ universe, and this union will only reinforce that reputation,” said Carolyn Wells, co-founder and executive director, Kansas City Barbeque Society. This years contest had 618 teams from 39 states and three countries, a sizable increase over the 562 teams hat competed in 2014. It is clear from the numbers that the move did nothing to hurt the contest, and may have helped to enhance it. In addition to the increased space, teams and attendees were provided with increased entertainment opportunities, including a concert by country starts Big & Rich, additional food options from the likes of KC’s own Plowboys’s Barbeque and Zarda Bar-B-Q, and a carnival with a ride and gigantic Jenga and Beer Pong games.
I’ve got to include my favorite picture from this years American Royal – here’s my son Hudson (5 month’s old at the Royal) and I inside Arrowhead Stadium getting ready for awards.
2016 is likely to be another interesting year of change for the American Royal as it is likely the event will have to move from its traditional first weekend in October dates due to the World Champion Kansas City Royals playing home games that weekend across the parking lot at Kaufman Stadium.
Leave a comment on this post and let us know how you liked the Royal’s new home at Arrowhead.
On December 28th we’ll unveil the 3rd biggest BBQ Story of 2015. The biggest BBQ Story of 2015 will be announced on December 30th.
To date we’ve announced the 5th through 10th biggest BBQ Story of 2015.
All sports have their pinnacle event, that one event that can define your career if you’re lucky enough to win it. In baseball it’s the World Series. In football it’s the Super Bowl. In track & field and swimming it’s the Olympics. In BBQ it’s the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue hosted every fall in the quaint Tennessee town of Lynchburg, a small town that packs a huge punch as the home of Jack Daniel’s. Just getting an invitation to cook the Jack is considered an often unattainable honor, but to win it is nearly the equivalent of getting a clear picture of the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot. It’s that hard to do. Winning it twice in three years, that would be like hitting .700 with 200 HR’s over the course of a baseball season or passing for 100 touchdowns over a football season. It could never been done, right? Wrong!
At the 2015 Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue, BBQ’s Babe Ruth, Tuffy Stone, and his Cool Smoke team won their second Jack in three years. A feet as amazing as hitting two hole in ones, in not a round of gold, but over three consecutive holes. Certainly not new to winning the big games, Stone has previously won the equally prestigious American Royal Invitational, American Royal Open and the Kingsford Invitational. Three is no better “Big Game” pitmaster on the competition circuit today. If you’re betting your friends on who will win one of the big contests in 2016 we hope you’re money is on Cool Smoke, if it isn’t, their is a good chance you’ll be paying out winnings to your buddies.
A huge congratulations to Tuffy and George Stone and the entire Cool Smoke team on another very successful and impressive BBQ campaign during the 2015 season.
On December 27th we’ll unveil the 4th biggest BBQ Story of 2015. The biggest BBQ Story of 2015 will be announced on December 30th.
To date we’ve announced the 6th through 10th biggest BBQ Story of 2015.
Merry Christmas to one and all. We hope your day is filled with family, friends, great food and a nice gift or two (Heck in the BBQ world getting coal in your stocking isn’t even a bad thing, especially if it is lump!). As you enjoy the day and reflect upon all the blessings that surround you we ask you to think about those who are less fortunate, those who are suffering from the loss of a loved one or those who aren’t able to be home with their families as they serve our nation at home or overseas. It is a great day to be generous and spread some of your cheer and blessings with others.
If you’ve been involved in any aspect of BBQ for even the shortest amount of time you know that there are few groups of like minded people who are more caring and generous with their time and resources than BBQer’s. In 2015 that generosity continued to be a hallmark of the BBQ world with organizations like KCBS and Operation BBQ Relief and companies like Code 3 Spices and Mission BBQ, to name only a few, who give generously to many worthwhile causes and charities.
KCBS – In 2014, KCBS announced a mission to feed America’s homeless and hungry with 100,000 meals through its 100KCBS Meals Mission and exceeded its goal by almost 15,000 meals. In 2015, KCBS is attempting to provide more than 250,000 meals through its new mission, the 250KCBS Meals Mission. If you’re at a KCBS event that is participating in this mission we encourage you to contribute your leftovers meat to the effort. If you aren’t able to contribute in this fashion another great option is to spend a day at a local food bank or soup kitchen.
Operation BBQ Relief – The mission of Operation BBQ Relief (OBR) is to provide compassion and to offer hope and friendship to those whose lives have been affected by disasters across the United States through their expertise in cooking and catering barbecue meals and their ability to quickly mobilize their teams into any area where nature disrupts and tears apart the lives of Americans. Since its inception in May of 2011, OBR has served more than 600,000 meals at disaster locations in 18 states. If you’d like to donate to Operation BBQ Relief click HERE.
Code 3 Spices – We’ve met a lot of great people through BBQ doing amazing things around the country and in their local communities, but we can’t think of anyone doing more than our good friends over at Code 3 Spices. They donate $0.50 of each bottle of Code 3 Spice Rub they sell to organizations that support Police, Fire, Medical and Military personnel, including The BackStoppers, Safe Call Now, and Operation Homefront. Order one of their gift boxes and try each of their five rubs (Sea Dog Rub, Grunt Rub, Rescue Rub, 5-0 Rub & Backdraft Rub) HERE and help support the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect and keep us safe each and every day!
The World Food Championships is the largest competition in the food sports world, where champions from nine categories (BBQ, Bacon, Burger, Desert, Recipe, Pasta, Seafood, Sandwich & Chili) compete for a share of a $350,000 prize purse. 2015’s Championships, the fourth annual, invited champions from the largest and most prestigious food competitions around the world were invited to Kissimmee, FL in November to compete for a chance at the $100,000 grand prize. This years World Food Champion, The Smoking Hills, came from the BBQ category, making BBQ the supreme cuisine in the all the land!
What a year 2015 turned out to be for The Smoking Hills. In addition to winning the World Food Championships, they were the winners of the 2015 American Royal Invitational. Congratulations to The Smoking Hills on their World Championship and shinning the light even brighter on BBQ.
On December 25th we’ll unveil the 6th biggest BBQ Story of 2015. The biggest BBQ Story of 2015 will be announced on December 30th.
To date we’ve announced the 8th through 10th biggest BBQ Story of 2015.
Steak has always joined it’s colleagues hamburgers and hot dogs as Kings of the Backyard Grill, but until recently it was rare (not medium-rare, just rare) to find a steak cookoff in most corners of America. For as long as live fire competition cooking has been around ribs, chicken, pork shoulder, whole hog and brisket have been the undisputed Kings of the Competition BBQ and Grilling world. That seems to be changing as steak is asking the traditional competition BBQ cuts to make way and MOOve over! It is still to be seen if steak can unseat the standard competition meat categories found at a KCBS or MBN contest, but one thing is certain, steak is quickly making its move to at least join them as an undisputed King of the Competition BBQ and Grilling world.
The Steak Cookoff Association (SCA) is the organized body “dedicated to building the sport of steak cookoffs.” Much like KCBS or MBN, all SCA sanctioned cookoffs have a representative on site at each sanctioned cookoff who’s job it is to run the judging and support the teams. This combined with a standardized set of rules have lead to the growth of the sport of steak cookoffs. In 2015 there were sanctioned SCA cookoffs in 11 states with plans to expand to an additional 4-9 states in 2016. In addition to the sports rapid growth in the US in 2015, there were 3 SCA sanctioned cookoffs in the Netherlands and there are plans to increase international participation in 2016 with events in Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Belgium and the Caribbean. The SCA has set a goal of 100 events in 2016, which shows just how rapidly the popularity of steak cookoffs is growing.
With world class BBQ pitmasters like Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson BBQ keep their smokers in storage for a weekend in favor of breaking out a grill to compete in a steak cookoff you know the future is bright for steak cookoffs in America. Don’t be surprised if you see a steak cookoff in your area in 2016 and beyond.
On December 24th we’ll unveil the 7th biggest BBQ Story of 2015. The biggest BBQ Story of 2015 will be announced on December 30th.
To date we’ve announced the 9th and 10th biggest BBQ Story of 2015.
BBQ is a cuisine. BBQ is an event. BBQ is a flavor. BBQ is a sport. BBQ is an occupation. BBQ is a tradition. BBQ means so many things, different things, to so many people, but for a select few of us, BBQ is a way of life. There is no question that this is the case for Dave Anderson, one of the patriarch’s of BBQ.
On November 3, 2014, the very thing that fueled Dave’s way of life and allowed him to produce some of the best BBQ in America did it’s best to destroy the heart and soul of his professional life when fire destroyed the original Famous Dave’s restaurant in Hayward, WI. A lesser man may have succumb to the stress and pressure associated with such a devastating loss to his livelihood and legacy, but not Dave. Dave saw it as an opportunity.
We’ll never forget Dave’s Facebook post of November 7, 2014 where he said:
“You can’t stop a man who won’t quit! Hayward Wisconsin means a lot to me as it is home to my Mom’s family and also the birthplace of a national icon BBQ restaurant chain. Famous Dave Anderson said…The Original Famous Dave’s has meant to much to the development of my career as a passionate lover of barbecue but also the culmination of a lifelong dream come true. At first the shock of this fire was emotionally tough on Kathy and me as this dream was 25 years in the making. This wasn’t just a restaurant that burned down but it was my lifelong dream that kept me going through thick or thin. The Original Famous Dave’s has given so many young people their first start in their careers and helped many summer college kids pay their way through school. We have hosted countless weddings, anniversaries, birthday’s, family reunions, and millions of raving loyal fans that have traveled countless miles to visit The Original Famous Dave’s… that we are anxious to rebuild and get back to making our beloved barbecue fanatics delightfully happy! I have complete faith in the Bible verse Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
So many lifelong customers and friends of Famous Dave’s have reached out to share their support and encouragement through their thoughts and prayers for which we are encouraged, humble, and grateful. In addition, we have heard from so many industry vendors and suppliers have offered their help and support for us to get back up and operating America’s Best Loved BBQ Joint! here in Hayward, Wisconsin.
It is our goal to be up and running by June 21, 2015 on Father’s Day which will give us the necessary time to get back into the swing of things by next year’s 4th of July. We are also looking into the feasibility of taking our Conference Center and turning into a makeshift BBQ Shack to help keep a core of our invaluable “Famous” team members employed and also to continue serving up great tasting barbecue to our loyal fans while we are rebuilding. However, we need to figure out what health and other “official” requirements are needed to make this happen and how fast we can get this done. But we are encouraged because we have gotten word that much of the usual “red tape” will be expedited so that we can get back up and running as this landmark restaurant has meant so much to the local Hayward community.”
Dave beat his own goal of opening a new BBQ joint by more than two months and like the phoenix rising from the ashes opened Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse in Hayward, WI on April 14, 2015.
As if opening a new restaurant concept in less than 6 months wasn’t enough, Dave has already opened a second Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse in Rice Lake, WI and we have no doubt more are on the way. Dave has always been an inspiration to BBQ entrepreneur’s like ourselves, turning his first concept, Famous Dave’s, into a nationally recognized restaurant powerhouse. His resilience in the face of adversity has done nothing but increase the inspiration he provides and makes us all want to challenge ourselves more when we face common obstacles, let alone life altering ones like losing a restaurant to fire.
Prominently inscribed on one of Old Southern BBQ Smokehouses walls is a quote from Dave’s dad, James Anderson, “Generous use of my BBQ sauce could bring world peace.” In a time when the world could use some peace we hope everyone gets a chance to taste Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse’s BBQ sauce!
On December 23rd we’ll unveil the 8th biggest BBQ Story of 2015. The biggest BBQ Story of 2015 will be announced on December 30th.
To date we’ve announced the 10th biggest BBQ Story of 2015.
If you haven’t been stranded on a desert island you know that BBQ and grilling are SMOKING HOT in America right now! If BBQ were in line to have an IPO on the DOW or NASDAQ it would be met with a buzz similar to that enjoyed by Facebook or Shack Shack as they made their way into our financial lexicon and the portfolios of millions of investors. Simply put, betting on BBQ is a safer bet than doubling down in blackjack when you’ve been dealt two aces. BBQ is a sure bet, at least as sure of a bet as exists, and there are many gamblers going all in when it comes to BBQ!
If you turned on your TV in 2015, you probably came face to face with the reality that TV producers and networks are among those placing the largest wager on the popularity of BBQ in America. BBQ on TV isn’t new, it’s just hotter than it has ever been. From Food Network to Destination America and Cooking Channel to PBS and Travel Channel to the networks, BBQ and grilling shows are popping up everywhere. 2015 also became the year when BBQ broke even further into the world of commercials, with BBQ themed commercials from GEICO, Bank of America, Nexium, and Burlington Coat Factory to name a few. We were even lucky enough to break into the world of commercials this year filming BBQ themed commercials for Choice Hotels and Dunn & Brandstreet.
More BBQ on TV is a good thing for the health and growth of BBQ in America. It introduces the cuisine, lifestyle and sport that we all love so much to countless potential new BBQ lovers. That means more people eating at BBQ restaurants, purchasing BBQ sauce and spice rub, buying new grills and smokers, adding BBQ cookbooks to their bookshelves and/or competing in their first BBQ contests. That also means more opportunities for BBQ pitmasters, BBQ businesses, and BBQ restaurants to increase their stature and diversify potential revenue streams.
More BBQ TV = Good For BBQ in general and the BBQ pitmasters/BBQ businesses and BBQ restaurants who make a living from BBQ
Our Top 5 BBQ TV Shows in 2015 are:
#5 – BBQ Pit Wars – As BBQ competitors it is always great to see a show based on the competition world. You get a chance to see your friends on TV, you might even see yourself on TV if you were cooking the right competition at the right time, get a secret or two for the low price of watching the show, confirm if you are doing something right or wrong based on the success or failure of the shows participants and share a little bit of your weekend life with friends and family.
The second season of BBQ Pit Wars was, in our opinion, a stronger season than the first. If it gets a third season it would be great to see a bit more diversity in contest locations and a refresh of the teams who participate on the show. We like the idea of the team who wins the season securing a slot in the next season while the three losing teams are replaced by three new teams. This would raise the stakes of the show and give at least three new teams the chance to participate every year.
#4 – Chopped Grillmasters – After a several year hiatus it was good to see the Food Network bring Chopped Grillmasters back. If there is one downfall in the world of competition BBQ it is that it doesn’t reward risk taking and creativity. Like it or not, we all know if we want a chance to hear our name called at awards there is a narrow line the judges are looking for and we must not cross it if we hope to be successful. The reality is BBQ is filled with talented cooks and chefs who, when given the opportunity, can do some pretty remarkable things over a live fire. We loved seeing so many of our friends forced to step outside of their comfort zone of ribs, chicken, brisket and pork and be forced to think outside the box with some odd ball ingredients in very short windows of time. The results were for the most part very impressive!
#3 -BBQ Pitmasters – BBQ Pitmasters set the tone for the influx of BBQ related shows and has changed formats several times over the course of its history. We still don’t find the show as satisfying as the first season, but it remains a favorite can’t miss show. In its current format, it is a hybrid mix of BBQ Pit Wars and Chopped Grillmasters. It isn’t the pure competition format of Pit Wars and it isn’t the adrenaline rush format of being told you have 15 minutes to create a world class dish using squash blossoms, beaten biscuits, durian, crickets and lobster over an open fire. It sets somewhere comfortably in between.
Where the show has improved upon itself in recent seasons is its current iteration of judges. The mix of personality, chemistry and acumen is perfect between Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone & Moe Cason, all very accomplished pitmasters in their own right. Where the show has faltered in our opinion is in two areas: 1) It often tries to get too cute with a quick challenge filled with “Made For TV Drama” that just doesn’t work. We want to see the show focus on the main event, seasoned pitmasters doing what they do best, not determining if they can turn rattlesnake into an Amuse Bouche in 15 minutes, and 2) It is as if the same pitmasters are asked to return to the show year after year. While there certainly should be opportunity for pitmasters to return, there should also be opportunity for fresh casting each year, which would help keep the show fresh and provide additional accomplished pitmasters the opportunity to introduce themselves and share their talents with viewers. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of qualified pitmasters cooking from coast-to-coast who we’d like to see on the show. Simply put, let’s see some new pitmasters next season!
#2 – BBQ Crawl – BBQ Crawl is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on steroids for the BBQ lover. There are so many amazing BBQ joints across the country and most of us aren’t lucky enough to travel from coast-to-coast to try them all, but we’re able to live vicariously through Diva Q as she does just that. When we’re lucky enough to find ourselves traveling around the country we’ve followed Diva’s advice and visited a few of her favorite stops. The thing that really takes this show to the next level are the episodes that find Diva Q competing in a local BBQ contest. We love this aspect of the show for many of the same reasons we listed above under BBQ Pit Wars (You get a chance to see your friends on TV, you might even see yourself on TV if you were cooking the right competition at the right time, get a secret or two for the low price of watching the show, confirm if you are doing something right or wrong based on the success or failure of the shows participants and share a little bit of your weekend life with friends and family.) Additionally, we love that she shares the spotlight with her BBQ friends on each episode, inviting them to visit BBQ joints and cook BBQ competitions with her!
#1 – BBQ with Franklin – BBQ with Franklin is hands down our favorite BBQ show of 2015. What could be bad about one of the greatest minds in BBQ giving us, the viewer, an in depth and often scientific understanding of wood, meat, seasoning, pits and even a failed attempt at competing (again proving that BBQ judges often cause us to scratch our heads as we’re sure that the Que Aaron turned in, which was surly outside the box of traditional competition BBQ, was way preferable to many of the entries turned in – we know we’d rather eat Aaron’s BBQ than what we turn in on just about every Saturday we compete). We can’t wait to see what Aaron has in store for viewers next season!
2015 was indeed a great year for BBQ on TV and we have no doubt the airwaves will be filled with even more great BBQ TV in 2016, which is only good for BBQ!
Come back tomorrow and we’ll announce the #9 BBQ Story of 2015.
2015 has been a big year for BBQ. Across America more and more people are making BBQ a part of their life by bringing grills and smokers into their backyards, opening new BBQ restaurants in all 50 states, starting sauce and rub companies and competing on the professional BBQ circuit for the first time. Simply put, BBQ is HOT!
In 2013 we named our list of the 25 Most Influential People in BBQ to cheers and jeers from the BBQ world. This year, beginning on Monday, December 21, we will unveil our list of the Top 10 BBQ Stories of 2015. We want to hear your feedback – did we miss a story that you think should have been on our Top 10 list? Did we list a story on our Top 10 list that just wouldn’t have made the cut on your list? We hope you’ll join in the discussion as we look back on BBQ in 2015! Don’t forget to check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog on Monday, December 21 for the number 10 BBQ story of 2015.