Good Reads

18 Apr

Bald Knob Cross, Southern Illinois
My children in front of the majestic Bald Knob cross, the world’s largest porcelain cross, located in Southern Illinois. 

Wishing you Good Friday blessings and the peace and joy of Easter.

Seth Godin on building better, stronger bridges.

So much goodness. “Everyone is  winging it, some just do it more confidently.” “You will miss out on some near soul mates.” “Emotional scenes are tiring and pointless.” “By your 40s, you’ve gotten better at spotting narcissists.”

This clip of Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” made me smile.

Meat prices are soaring. These articles from Brisketman and Daniel Vaughn explain why.

Why simple websites are superior.

Interesting article on butchering via Food Republic.

Solid primer on when and how much to tip.

How to become a productivity rockstar.

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

NBBQA Conference: San Marcos

7 Apr

SanMarcos-01After our epic two days of eating our way through Austin, our pit crew traveled down the road to San Marcos, Texas  for the National Barbecue Association conference.

SanMarcos-20Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly magazine’s barbecue critic, gave the opening address and took the audience on an historical tour of Texas barbecue. Here’s Daniel with his official Texas costume.
SanMarcos-02Bright and early the next morning we were back at the seminars. Fortunately Brooke Lewis and Cheryl Atkinson from The Shed served fancifully garnished Bloody Marys in their outstanding catering session … .

SanMarcos-21And Randy Twyford interrupted his talk for the traditional 9:22 shot of Gentleman Jack.
SanMarcos-03One of my favorite seminars was learning about the history of Czech and German sausage from Tim Mikeska and Kent Black.

SanMarcos-04-5Each old-line Texas barbecue shrine has a unique, carefully guarded family recipe. You can buy Black’s sausage online here. Mikeska sausage is sold to a number of excellent barbecue restaurants around the country. Click here for more information.

SanMarcos-08“THE magic formula for which mathematicians, engineers, economists, and chefs, all over the planet, have looked for centuries to make money!” ~Tim Mikeska

SanMarcos-09-10One of the extra events for which you could register was a private dinner at Black’s Barbecue, followed by an evening of music at Gruene Hall.

SanMarcos-11Spending time with Edgar Black was honor.

SanMarcos-12A priceless moment – multi-generations from 17th Street and Black’s. Thank you, Rick Browne, for the great shot!

SanMarcos-13After the barbecue feast, we went to the charming town of Gruene to experience Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas.

SanMarcos-14Lively music …

SanMarcos-15-16… amidst storied walls, lined with  photos of all of the stars who’ve played here.

SanMarcos-17Holes in the floor are patched with license plates.

SanMarcos-18Barry Sorkin and Tim Mikeska. Barry serves Tim’s outstanding sausage in his restaurant, Smoque, in Chicago.

SanMarcos-19Cassidy, Laurie,me, and Jenn. These girls make me so proud.

SanMarcos-23One of the highlights of the conference was Friday evening’s outdoor picnic, featuring a variety of Meyer’s Natural Meats, and a steak cook-off. A number of NBBQA pitmasters cooked alongside seasoned steak circuit cooks.

SanMarcos-24Phillip and Mike borrowed a grill and joined in the steak cook-off fun.

SanMarcos-25DennyMike Sherman brought some fresh Maine lobster tails with him …

SanMarcos-26…  and grilled them up on Brad Barrett’s GrillGrates. Lightly seasoned and charred goodness.

SanMarcos-30My Texas barbecue family was out in full force. Thanks to Robert Lerma for making this picture of Keith Schmidt and me.

SanMarcos-27Mike is hoping that this turn-in bribe will help his score.

SanMarcos-28Rhinestone cowboy steak GRAND CHAMPION Kell Phelps, past NBBQA president and editor of the National Barbecue News, was the grand champion. He’s pictured here with National Steak Champion Monte Brown, Diamond W BBQ, and Mike after the final dinner and auction.

SanMarcos-29Our last Texas meal was brunch at Cody’s Bistro in San Marcos with Keith Schmidt. Chicken and waffles — half of a fried cornish game hen over malted waffles with a cayenne-spiked maple syrup. So delicious.

SanMarcos-31bAnd of course, a final stop before departure: Texas Western Wearhouse. They were kind enough to loan us dozens of pairs of gorgeous cowboy boots with which to decorate the tables for our auction and final meal, so we had to check them out. Six pairs of boots, belts, shirts, and more and we were ready to head for home.

If you’re in the barbecue business, kindly consider joining NBBQA and attending next year’s event which will be held in Nashville. We are staunch supporters of NBBQA. Mike is a past president and continues to serve on the board, Becky Streuter, our catering manager has served on the board, and Amy organized several conferences. The  educational opportunities, coupled with with the opportunity to meet barbecue people from all over the country, make this experience valuable. We have met so many of our very good friends through these conferences. Y’all join us! 


Austin – This is the Good Stuff

27 Mar

Austin-01-HillbillyTruckThe National Barbecue Association conference is a must on our yearly calendar. The learning and networking opportunities for our crew — and for Mike and me — are valuable to us personally and professionally. A few weeks ago we packed up our suitcases — just like the Beverly Hillbillies — and flew to Austin, Texas for a few days of team building, eating, and restaurant recon prior to the conference.

Austin-02-HotelSanJoseSince I was arriving from Boston, I checked in a few days prior so I’d be well rested for the week. Hotel San Jose on South Congress is one of my happy places and a good central location for appointments and all of the places we needed to visit.

Austin-03-GuerosAfter checking in, I strolled to Guero’s for refreshing margaritas, creamy queso, and general unwinding after a long and turbulent flight. The cute boys next to me complimented my boots, which led to a more lengthy conversation, and before long, I joined in their fun. My new friend, William, had an awesome turquoise arm party going on and I had to snap a picture. Turns out he’s part of Ranch 616 restaurant …. more about that later.

Austin-04-BootHeavenMy friend and fellow barbecue pitmaster, Shelly Hunt, met me at Guero’s and for a quick trip to boot heaven to see what’s new. I indoctrinated her right quick and she left with new boots and a boot jack she didn’t even know she needed.

Austin-27-Ranch616When Mike and the 1-7 crew arrived, we had an amazing multi-course meal at Ranch 616. We toasted with many Fire in the Hole shots, pictured above. These are crafted from Tito’s vodka, orange liquor, and lime juice, and served in a hollowed-out jalapeño, rimmed with chile salt. So many flavors and a little tingle from the pepper. Thank you so much, Kevin and William, for your gracious hospitality!

Austin-05-6-LucysAfterwards, went to Lucy’s and ordered one of each dessert … and several varieties of oysters, too. The sweet tea chess pie was the unanimous favorite.

Austin-07-TorchysI planned an ambitious itinerary for our time in Austin. We started with early morning breakfast tacos at Torchy’s

Austin-08-JosFollowed by coffee and pastries at Jo’s. We stopped to pose for a group shot in front of their famous side wall.

Austin-09-FreedmansOur first stop on Tuesday was Freedmen’s Bar.

Austin-11-NYCFriendAs I walked by the pit, I heard someone say, “Hey, Amy! I know you!” I turned around and was pleasantly surprised to see Evan LeRoy, formerly of Hill Country in New York City.

Austin-10-FreedmansWe peeked inside the pit and saw ribs, brisket, and trays of beets being bathed in smoke.

Austin-12-13-FreedmansInteriorThe interior is so charming with an antique bar, marble, lots of wood, and other vintage touches.

Austin-14-QWe ordered all of the meats and sides.

Austin-15-VegThe roasted tomatoes and argula, served in cast iron, was fresh and delicious. Crisp pickled vegetables are in the upper left corner. The roasted beets with chèvre and balsamic glaze is also highly recommended.

Austin-16-DigInIf you go to Freedmen’s, be sure to order the smoked banana pudding — not pictured, because we devoured it so quickly.

Austin-17-StilesSwitchStop number two was Stiles Switch.

Austin-18-HeapingTrayAgain, we tried all of the meats. Beef ribs, pork ribs, brisket, turkey, pulled pork. So nice to meet Shane and his crew. Thank you again for your most gracious hospitality!

Austin-21-22-ValentinasWe were slowing down a bit at this point … but we had one final stop on the agenda: Valentina’s Tex Mex. We discovered they don’t open until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays. So ….

Austin-20-Gueros…  back to Guero’s  for racaus conversation, spicy queso, and many, many margaritas and beers.

Austin-20-GroupThis is the good stuff, and probably my favorite afternoon. Those strangers in the back of this photo were totally entertained with our stories and shenanigans.

Austin-23-24-ShigginWithSorkinWe made it back to Valentina’s just in time for Mike and Barry to shig off Randy in the back of the trailer. Hmmm… that’s a lot of brown sugar!

Austin-25-TacoWe sampled fajita and brisket tacos with fresh, homemade flour tortillas. So good.

Austin-26-MikeBarryAmyMike, Barry Sorkin, and me at Valentina’s. At this point we’d lost half of our crew to the bar at Ranch 616, which is conveniently located next door, and what we really needed was a dive bar to finish off the evening. They suggested Dirty Bill’s, right around the corner. Perfect.

Austin-28-DirtyBillsMike and sausage czar Tim Mikeska at Dirty Bill’s.

Austin-30b-FranklinBBQWednesday morning we were off to Franklin Barbecue. Barry Sorkin of Smoque and Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue joined us for this epic day of eating.

Austin-30-FranklinBBQOne of the five pits Franklin’s fills to capacity every day.

Austin-31-32b-FranklinBBQTwo more giant trays of delicious meat and a few sides.

Austin-33-FranklinBBQMike and Aaron Franklin.


Austin-35-FranklinBBQKris, Phillip, and Mike checking out one of the pits.

Austin-36-FranklinBBQMike enjoyed chatting with pit boss Karl.

Austin-37-StreetArtArt is everywhere in Austin. This impromptu installation is in front of Franklin Barbecue.

Austin-40-JohnLewisNext up was La Barbecue. Mike headed straight to the trailer to check out the set up …

Austin-41-JohnLewis… and chat barbecue with John Lewis.

Austin-42-LaBBQWe sampled two more giant trays of meat … of which I do not seem to have a photo. Here is another one of their specialties: the famous El Sancho — chopped brisket, pulled pork, sliced hot guts, and pickled onions, piled high.

Austin-43-EasyTigerWe finished off the day with craft beers, pastries, and pretzels at Easy Tiger, truly one of the best bakeries I’ve experienced. The almond croissants and cheese danish are outstanding, and a bonus: they sell their pastries at Jo’s Coffee, too. Their large, soft pretzels with beer cheese, mustard, and salty butter, combined with ice-cold beer, are the perfect afternoon snack.

In addition to the food,  we were soaking up the design details, feel, and culture at each stop. Austin has a vibrant independent restaurant scene and there are so many interesting details and good ideas of which to take note. That, coupled with the opportunity for our crew to interact and learn outside of our own restaurant, made this trip hugely successful.

After all of this eating, it was off to San Marcos for the National Barbecue Association conference. More about that in a future post.


Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

Going Whole Hog at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

19 Mar

Big Apple Block PartyWell, hello, forklift delivering a nice whole hog in the middle of Madison Avenue.

BigApple_2-ButcherAndPrepLast June we cooked this whole hog for some VIPs at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. Love seeing all of the smartphones recording the details as Mike and the crew butchered away. We prepped this pig on Saturday and smoked it, with charcoal and apple wood, in an Ole Hickory double-wide CTO for about 20 hours.

BigApple_3-CTOI see a little glimpse of that mahogany skin …

BigApple_4-PhilAndLukeAnd there she is. Luke and Phillip carefully lift her to a tray …

BigApple_5_HogSuch a pretty face.

BigApple_6-BoxCutterIf you don’t have the proper knife handy, a box cutter will work just fine. Mike Mills is nothing if not resourceful. Here he’s scoring the skin so he can lift it up and pull the meat out of one side. The skin on the remaining side will keep the meat moist and warm until we’re ready to work from that angle.

BigApple_7-PrettyPigAnother angle.

BigApple_8-HogSauceSeasoning and pulling. We fed this hog to people who were so patiently waiting in line.

Mark your calendars NOW for June 7-8 … Fast Passes are on sale NOW for the 12th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party! Will we see you there? 


Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

Ring of Fire

17 Mar

The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint and 17th Street Barbecue joined forces to form the RING OF FIRE and inducted its first two members at the National Barbecue Association conference in San Marcos last week.

The award was created to honor an individual or company whose innovation in the barbecue world has had a lasting impact on the barbecue industry.

Carolyn Wells Ring of Fire © Rick Browne 17th Street BBQ/The Shed BBQOur first honoree, along with her husband, created the barbecue sanctioning body that organized and lent structure to competition barbecue as we know it today and she continues to innovate, represent our industry, and increase the level of exposure for barbecue not only across America, but across the world. The amount of time she spends helping contests get started, advising television shows and the media, and trumpeting the message of barbecue as America’s original comfort food is staggering. The barbecue world would not be where it is today without her passion, dedication, and vision.

Welcome, Carolyn and Gary Wells, to the RING OF FIRE.  

Kell Phelps Ring of Fire © Rick Browne 17th Street BBQ/The Shed BBQOur second inductee is a family without whose storied barbecue history this gathering would not be taking place. They are founding members of NBBQA and long before we had message boards and facebook, they created the National Barbecue News, the only source of information about the barbecue world, encompassing restaurant, competition, and enthusiast news. They were the founders of the prestigious invitational contest, the National BBQ Festival. Their leadership, expertise, and friendship are legendary in the barbecue world.

Pictured is Kell Phelps, accepting the award on behalf of his parents. Welcome, Carlene and Joe Phelps, to the RING OF FIRE.

Blown glass ring of fire sculptures created by the Douglass School Art Place in Murphysboro, Illinois.

Photos courtesy of and ©Rick Browne

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

South Beach Wine & Food Festival

14 Mar

SOBE_17-BootsOnTheGroundBoots on the ground in South Beach. Just a few short weeks ago, Mike, Phillip, and I traveled to Miami to participate in Lee Schrager’s wildly popular South Beach Wine and Food Festival. This event is an all-out celebration of wine and food, with the country’s best chefs, a handful of pitmasters, and wine experts hosting and cooking cleverly themed ticketed events, along with a massive tasting tent for wine and demos by favorite Food Network chefs.
SOBE_01-PoliceEscortWe participated in Moët Hennessey’s The Q presented by Creekstone Farms sponsored by MIAMI magazine hosted by Michael Symon featuring the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models . The police car above escorted  our pit down the beach to the event site.

SOBE_04-LockerEach chef/pitmaster had one or more  of these lockers with all of our prepped food, equipment, and other ingredients all neatly organized. When we finished prepping, the food went back in here and was then transported to refrigerated storage at the beach. Chef Michael Moran, Lead Chef Instructor for the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University, along with Lindsay Autry and Kelly Murphy, expertly managed the food procurement, pre-prep, and logistics – an enormous task.

SOBE_05-HughMagnumMany chefs traveled with special ingredients in their luggage. Hello, Hugh Mangum of Mighty Quinn’s.

SOBE_06-LureFishbarWe enjoyed a fab dinner at the new location of Lure Fishbar. Oysters several ways, sushi, fish, and more. Excellent food and service.

SOBE_07-CheckingTempBack to the beach to temp the hogs by moonlight, with the assistance of a lighter.

SOBE_08-AddingKingsfordWe cooked two 150-pound hogs from Iowa, using Kingsford charcoal and apple and pecan woods from Western Woods.

SOBE_09-MarlboroClassic Mike Mills. Smoking Marlboro Reds and whole hogs.

SOBE_10-EntranceThis massive banner announced the entrance of The Q.

SOBE_11-12-SBWFFThe magnitude and logistics of these events are a sight to behold. Dozens of people transformed a stretch of bare beach into a massive, well-designed party scene.

SOBE_13-14-SBWFFThe Food Network lounge provided a place to relax and rejuvenate. Dogs swept the area prior to opening.

SOBE_15-MartinsRollsATVs buzzed about delivering supplies all throughout the day. Here’s a wall of trays of Martin’s Potato Rolls.

SOBE_16-OurTraysAnd here are ours.

SOBE_18-19-OurSetUpWe dressed up our little stretch of sand with our Ole Hickory Pit, signage, and a few props brought from home. The real centerpiece would be the hog.


SOBE_21-22-BunDeliveriesHere’s our bread delivery. Mini Martin’s Potato Rolls for our whole hog sandwiches.

Mike Mills, Amy MIlls, and Randy Fisher of Cream It at SOBEWe enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with Randy Fisher of Cream, the culinary entertainment and marketing company. He invited us to participate in our first SOBE Festival event several years ago.

SOBE_23-4RiversBBQJohn Rivers,  4 Rivers Smokehouse in Orlando, and his pit master stopped by to chat and say hello.

SOBE_24-MichaelSymonMichael Symon was the host of our event. He’s been a huge champion of 17th Street and we are immensely grateful for his friendship and support.

SOBE_25-MichaelHughMikeMichael, Hugh Magnum, and Mike catch up after the chef photo opp.

SOBE_26-FIUStudentsEach chef is assigned a group of FIU hospitality and culinary students to help during the event. This was our great group and they were super. Curious, attentive, and pro-active. They pitched right in and helped figure out the set-up and best flow for the line. Each one had a job during the event and they stayed to help clean up and break down. THANK YOU! Y’all rock!

SOBE_27-SobeThePigWe always name our hogs and this one was Sobe. Isn’t she pretty?

SOBE_29-MikeAndAmyThanks to Getty Images for this shot of us just before the gates opened. You can view more of their party pix here – four pages’ worth.

SOBE_30-31-BigBobGibsonDoesn’t get much better than cooking with our friends on the beach. Ken Hess {left} and Chris Lilly {right} of Big Bob Gibson. Chris made miniature soft tacos with his succulent shoulder and jalapeño slaw. Delicious.

SOBE_32-MoetChandonMoët Chandon champagne pairs perfectly with pork and Creekstone beef, and it was free-flowing throughout the evening.

SOBE_34-GenevieveMortonMikeI’ve never seen Mike move so quickly as when he heard the words,”Your Sports Illustrated model is here to help!” He leapt into action and helped her with her apron and gloves.

SOBE_33-AmyGenevieveMortonMikeThe Sports Illustrated swimsuit models were co-hosts of the event and several of us had a model in our booth to help out. This is the lovely Genevieve Morton of South Africa. She’s been in the last five issues of the SI Swimsuit Edition.

SOBE_35-AmyGenevieveMortonPhilGenevieve was an incredibly good sport and she helped Phillip and me pull the hog and make sandwiches for several hours, all the while smiling and engaging with the guests. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

SOBE_35b-GenevieveMortonPhilPhillip, of course, is all smiles.

SOBE_36-MikeGenevieveMortonMike and Genevieve.

SOBE_37-38-SOBEKingAndQueenThere were two prizes given during the event, one for the best item using Creekstone Beef and the other for the best cooked over Kingsford Charcoal. We were surprised and thrilled to win the King and Queen of the Q award presented by Kingsford.

SOBE_39-KatieLeeJeffMauroAmyMikeFood Network stars Katie Lee and Jeff Mauro were the judges. THANK YOU!

SOBE_40-AnneBurrellAndMikeMillsMike, freshly crowned, being greeted by Anne Burrell as he exited the stage.

SOBE_42-CleanUpThe minute the event was over, we were cleaned up and packed up and hauled off the beach so they could begin setting up for following night’s  Burger Bash. More about that in an upcoming post.

SOBE_41-DoggieBagTaking home a Chris Lilly pork butt in your handbag takes the doggie bag concept to a whole new level.

SOBE_43-44-ChefKickOffWe followed the festivities with drinks, friends, and fun at the Chef Kick-off party

SOBE_45-KingAndQueenStill on a royal high. Huge thanks to Lee Schrager, Devin Padgett, Lizzi Nuell, Randy Fisher, Randi Freedman, Michael  Moran, Lindsay Autry, Kelly Murphy, Carol Press,  our crew of FIU students, and the outstanding SOBE festival team for such a terrific time!

You can read about the Q here and here 

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

April 2014 OnCue classes

13 Mar

OnCue Consulting Schedule 2014
We have just a few spots left in our April classes at Ole Hickory Pits followed by Business of Barbecue in Murphysboro. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started, these seminars are sure to teach you valuable tips and tricks of the trade that will help your business soar. Call us today to learn more!

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 




NBBQA Award of Excellence Judging

6 Mar

AwardOfExcellence_BoxesOfSauceEach January we oversee and administer the National Barbecue Association Awards of Excellence judging. Hundreds of boxes of products arrive at the 17th Street Warehouse and Samantha Graff, an integral member of our pit crew, unpacks and organizes each entry. As you can see by the photo above, many people take advantage of that “if it fits, it ships” option with the USPS. Sadly many neglected to use packaging material, as well, resulting in an unprecedented number of broken bottles. Interestingly, almost every broken bottle was plastic, not glass.

Here are a few tips for success in this contest:

1. Kindly do NOT use a box that is too small. Please wrap each bottle separately with bubble wrap and then add more packing material or bubble wrap around the empty spaces in the box.

2. Read the instructions carefully. Send the proper number of items requested for judging. So many people did not send the required number.

3. Don’t make up your own category; it will not be judged. For example, there is no “garlic barbecue sauce” category. If you’d like to suggest a new category, write the National Barbecue Association a note and we’ll consider that for the following year.

4. Get your entry in on time. We have a flurry of last-minute entries each year and that creates extra work and chaos for us as we try to unpack, re-label, and take care of paperwork the day of the judging.
AwardOfExcellence_BottlesHere are hundreds of sauce bottles re-labeled and coded for judging. We do the same with the rubs. 

AwardOfExcellence_SettingTablesMike, Sammi, Tyler, and Cassidy are setting up the room and preparing to welcome the Rend Lake Culinary program students who will be the judges. We provide unseasoned pork and chicken with which to taste the sauces and the students diligently and thoughtfully judge all entries.

AwardOfExcellence_EmployeesSammi and Tyler are all smiles as the set-up is almost complete. We use the same placemats and table system as we use for our barbecue contest.

AwardOfExcellence_MikeAndPhilMike and Phillip are preparing to greet the students. Mike starts off the event by telling them about NBBQA and stressing the importance of the task at hand.

AwardOfExcellence_Judging1The judges take their job very seriously.

AwardOfExcellence_Judging2Sauce categories are Tomato Mild, Tomato Spicy, Fruit Mild, Fruit Spicy, Vinegar Mild, Vinegar Spicy, Hot Sauce, Marinade Asian, and Marinade Mustard.

AwardOfExcellence_MikeInDiningRoomThe students and their instructors love being part of this process and it allows us to have a big field of culinary-minded and impartial judges.

AwardOfExcellence_SauceSheetThere are also several dry rub categories, condiments, best book, label, menu, t-shirt, and more. We judged almost 700 entries.

AwardOfExcellence_FilmingLocal television station WSIL joined us to report on the process.

AwardOfExcellence_InterviewAwards were announced today at the National Barbecue Association convention in San Marcos, Texas.

Barbecue Sauce – Tomato Mild
• First Place: Steve’s Oink-N-Squeel – Steve’s Oink-N-Squeel Barbecue Sauce
• Second Place: Big B Barbecue – Sweet Barbecue Bones
• Third Place: Bayou Born BBQ Sauce – The Meat Pleaser
• Fourth Place: Yah Butz – Big Butz B-B-Q Sauce Cranberry
• Fifth Place: Southern Belles Gourmet BBQ – Original Belle

Barbecue Sauce – Tomato Spicy
• First place: Porky’s Place BBQ – Smoke, Spice and Everything Nice
• Second Place: Victory Lane BBQ – Mild BBQ Sauce
• Third Place: Famous Dave’s of America – Pineapple Rage
• Fourth Place: Steve’s Oink-N-Squeel – Steve’s Oink-N-Squeel Barbecue Sauce
• Fifth Place: Cattle Boyz Foods – Chipotle Maple Bacon

Barbecue Sauce – Mustard Mild
• First place:  Central Oregon Sauce – Carolina Mustard
• Second Place: Cookies Food Products – Cookies Country Blend
• Third Place: Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q – Honey B-B-Q Sauce
• Fourth Place: Wilcox’s – Harold’s Hog Wash
• Fifth Place:  Ole Ray’s Sauces – Classic Gold Barbeque & Cookies Sauce

Barbecue Sauce – Mustard Spicy
• First place: SuckleBusters – Mustard BBQ Sauce
• Second Place: Famous Dave’s of America – Georgia Mustard
• Third Place: MonkeySpit – Monkey Mop BBQ Sauce
• Fourth Place: Smoky JOn’s #1 BBQ – Spicy Mustard Sauce
• Fifth Place: Pratt’s BBQ – Pratt’s Signature Sauce

Barbecue Sauce – Fruit Mild
• First place: Ole Ray’s Sauces – Blackberry Wine Barbeque & Cooking Sauce
• Second Place: Sweet Swine O’ Mine – Sweet Sauce O’ Mine Original
• Third Place: Ole Ray’s Sauces – Peach-a-licious Barbeque Sauce
• Fourth Place: J. Lee’s – Gourmet BBQ Sauce
• Fifth Place:  Hoosier Daddy – Sweet and Sassy BBQ Sauce

Barbecue Sauce – Fruit Spicy
• First place:  The Rib Doctor – Honey Classic Barbeque Sauce
• Second Place: Sweet Swine O’ Mine – Sweet Sauce O’ Mine Sweet & Spicy Vinegar
• Third Place: JoeSauce – Mango Habeñero BBQ Sauce
• Fourth Place: Kaban Brand Sauces – Raspberry Chipotle
• Fifth Place: Porky’s Place BBQ – Cherry “La Bomba” Habañero

Barbecue Sauce – Vinegar Mild
• First place:  SuckleBusters – Honey BBQ Sauce
• Second Place: Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q – Roasted Garlic B-B_Q Sauce
• Third Place: Saucy Wench Barbecue Sauce – Mild BBQ Sauce
• Fourth Place: Hoosier Daddy – Smokehouse Hickory with Lime
• Fifth Place: Sucklebusters – Original Sauce

Barbecue Sauce – Vinegar Spicy
• First place:  SuckleBusters – Chipotle BBQ Sauce
• Second Place: Elmer’s Original Barbecue Sauce – Original Hot
• Third Place: TWG BBQ Company – High Heat Spicy Sauce
• Fourth Place: Sweet Swine O’ Mine – Sweet Sauce O’ Mine Sweet & Spicy Vinegar Sauce
• Fifth Place: The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint – Spicy Vinegar

Barbecue Sauce – White Sauce
• First place:  Hickory Prime – White Lightning
• Second Place: Firebud Brands – Alabama Salvation Sauce
• Third Place: Smokey C’s BBQ & Wings – Spicy White Sauce
• Fourth Place: Jack’s Bar-B-Que – Jack’s Music City White Sauce
• Fifth Place: Torchbearer Sauces – Oh My Garlic Sauce

Barbecue Dry Rub & Seasoning – All Purpose
• First place:  Sweet Swine O’ Mine – Sweet Rub O’ Mine
• Second Place: Famous Dave’s of America – Rib Rub
• Third Place: Pratt’s BBQ – Brisket & Butt Rub
• Fourth Place: Gary’s Seasoning – The Original
• Fifth Place: Eroc’s U-Betcha – Smokey Maple

Barbecue Dry Rub & Seasoning – Southwest
• First place:  Central Oregon Sauce Company – Southwest Rub
• Second Place: Victory Lane BBQ – Sweet BBQ Rub
• Third Place: Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ – Southwest Seasoning
• Fourth Place: LA SPice House – Texas 1 Spice Chipotle
• Fifth Place: Smackers BBQ – Smackers BBQ Seasoning

Barbecue Dry Rub & Seasoning – Cajun
• First place:  LA Spice House – Texas 1 Spice
• Second Place: Smoky JOn’s #1 BBQ – Cajun Seasoning
• Third Place: Top Secret Gourmets – Cajun Gator Bite Spice
• Fourth Place: Victory Lane BBQ – All-Purpose BBQ Rub
• Fifth Place: LA Spice House – Texas 1 Spice

Barbecue Dry Rub & Seasoning – Caribbean/Jerk
• First place:  Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ – Meriterranean Seasoning
• Second Place: LA Spice House – Texas 1 Spice
• Third Place: Gary’s Seasoning – Sweet for Mama
• Fourth Place: Top Secret Gourmets – Pirate’s Gold Spice Rub
• Fifth Place: Top Secret Gourmets – X Hot Jamaican Habeñero & Lime Jerk Rub

Hot Sauce 
• First place:  Yah Butz – Big Butz B-B-Q Sauce Hot
• Second Place: Black’s Barbecue – Habañero Pepper Sauce
• Third Place: Smackers BBQ
• Fourth Place: 3 Taxi Guys – Budda Bing Wing Sauce
• Fifth Place:  Famous Dave’s of America – Pineapple Rage

Barbecue Marinade – Citrus/Fruit
• First place:  The Rib Doctor – Honey Classic Barbeque Sauce
• Second Place: Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ – Smoky JOn’s Fruit Marinade
• Third Place: Famous Dave’s of America – Beef Marinade
• Fourth Place:Mr. G’s Teriyaki – Hawaii-Style Plum and Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce
• Fifth Place: Famous Dave’s of America – Pork Marinade

Barbecue Marinade – Oil & Vinegar
• First place:  The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint – Hoggin’ It All
• Second Place: Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ – Smoky Jon’s Oil & Vinegar Sauce
• Third Place: The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint – Beef Blaster
• Fourth Place: Fireman John’s BBQ – Fireman John’s Marinade
• Fifth Place: Famous Dave’s of America – Chicken Marinade

Barbecue Marinade – Caribbean
• First place:  Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ – Smoky Jon’s Caribbean Marinade
• Second Place: Louisville Sauce Company – Original Jerk Sauce
• Third Place: Soggy Sandals – Guava-Jalapeño-Pineapple Rum Island Marinade
• Fourth Place: Soggy Sandals – Mango-Adobo Chipotle-Lime Rub Island Marinade
• Fifth Place: Victory Lane Baste & Marinade

Barbecue Marinade – Asian
• First place:  JoeSauce – Original BBQ Sauce
• Second Place: Mr. G’s Teriyaki – Hawaii-Style Spicy Apple Ginger Teriyaki Sauce
• Third Place: Famous Dave’s of America – Teriyaki Marinade
• Fourth Place: Mr. G’s Teriyaki – Hawaii-Style Spicy Garlic Teriyahi Sauce
• Fifth Place: Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ – Smoky Jon’s Asian Marinade

Barbecue Marinade – Mustard
• First place: Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ – Smoky Jon’s Mustard Marinade
• Second Place: Squealers Award-Winning BBQ – Mustard Madness Sauce

Barbecue Condiment or Accompaniment 
• First place:  Famous Dave’s of America – Signature Spicy Pickle Spears
• Second Place: Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ – Sweet Fire Table Sauce
• Third Place:  Famous Dave’s of America – Georgia Mustard Kettle Chips
• Fourth Place: Bayou Born BBQ Sauce – Bayou Born Jam Fiesta Pepper Sauce
• Fifth Place: The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint – Mississippi Kumbac Sauce

Barbecue Gift Pack  
• First place:  Big B Barbecue – Gift Pack
• Second Place: Famous Dave’s of America – BBQ Variety Pack
• Third Place: Torchbearer Sauces – Best Seller Sample Pack
• Fourth Place: Cookies Food Products – Wings-N-Things BBQ Kit
• Fifth Place: Jack’s Bar-B-Que – Jack’s Four Pack

Barbecue Label 
• First place:  Cattle Boyz Foods – Chipotle Maple Bacon
• Second Place: The Shed Saucery – The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint
• Third Place: Backwoods Premium Sauces – Sweet Whiskey Habañero Sauce
• Fourth Place: Soggy Sandals – Guava-Jalapeño-Pineapple Rum Marinade
• Fifth Place: Sweet Swine O’ Mine – Sweet Sauce O’Mine Original

Barbecue Tool or Accessory   
• First place: Cenzeo – The Ribalizer
• Second Place: GrillGrate – The Grate Tong
• Third Place: Mack Daddy’s – Mack Daddy’s Blackener
• Fourth Place: GrillGrate – The Grate Griddle
• Fifth Place: BBQ Kansas City – Injector

Barbecue Apparel 
• First place:  Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ – Camp Shirt
• Second Place: Sweet Swine O’ Mine – “Real Lives of BBQ Wives” T-shirt
• Third Place: Wilcox’s BBQ – Harold’s Hog Wash T-Shirt
• Fourth Place: Twyford BBQ & Catering – Twyford BBQ T-shirt
• Fifth Place: Boar’s Night Out – Boar’s Night Out T-shirt

Barbecue Book or Publication 
• First place:  Chef Events/Ted Reader, Inc. – Gastro Grilling
• Second Place: Chef Events/Ted Reader, Inc. – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Smoking Foods
• Third Place: Chef Events/Ted Reader, Inc. – Beerlicious
• Fourth Place: Famous Dave Anderson – Famous Dave’s Barbecue Party Cookbook
• Fifth Place: Cookies Food Products – Cookies Favorite Recipes 

If you’ve won this contest in the past, did the award help you market your products more successfully? 

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

Ultimate Austin Guide

26 Feb

La Barbecue, Austin, TX. Photo ©17th Street Barbecue
When traveling to Austin, my focus is pretty specific: Visiting with friends, which means barbecue. Shopping, which means boots. Cocktails, which means tequila.

I have an email with suggestions for all of the above that I’ve edited and revised and sent to dozens of friends over the years. I’ve updated it again and am posting it here. If you’re traveling to Texas for the NBBQA convention or SXSW, here are some places you might enjoy.

The barbecue scene has exploded in the few years since the last convention. I won’t re-invent the wheel here as this list by Burger Mary is quite good and well organized. If you’re going on the NBBQA bus trip, you’ll hit a few of the really good ones and if you have extra time, here’s your guide.

Before heading out for a barbecue crawl, grab a breakfast taco from Torchy’s and eat it while you’re standing in line at Franklin’s. Buy a few extra and give them to the people standing next to you. You’ll make instant friends.

An ideal afternoon:
You can spend an entire day or afternoon on South Congress. Buy or ogle the boots at Allen’s – my absolute favorite spot to buy boots. Ask for Ryan and tell him I sent you. Heritage Boots, just down the street, has a beautiful selection, too. Pop into Guero’s for a margarita and good chips and salsa. Their margaritas are all from scratch — no mixes — so they’re not cloyingly sweet and they go down fast and easy. Browse the antiques and collectibles at Uncommon Objects. Wander in and out of all the cute shops. Jo’s Coffee is perfect if you need a pick-me-up. The lounge at the San Jose Hotel is great for an appetizer and cocktail. End up at the Continental Club for live music.

Austin has quite the dining scene. These places are tops:
Lucy’s Fried Chicken has some of the best sweet tea chess pie I’ve ever eaten.
Sway for modern Thai food.
Uchi and/or Uchiko are billed as contemporary Japanese dining and sushi and Japanese farmhouse dining and sushi. I’ve only been to Uchi and I highly recommend.
Qui is helmed by Top Chef and James Beard Award winner Paul Qui and it’s quite the dining experience.
Easy Tiger is great in the morning — beautiful baked goods. Also fun for late night dining and drinking in their beer garden. Have the pretzels with butter and/or beer cheese.
This guide and this guide are good ones for navigating the huge, constantly changing food truck scene. There’s also an app for that.

Four Seasons is centrally located and has a beautiful lounge perfect for cocktails and meetings.
Hotel San Jose is clean and contemporary. Superb location, pool, and lounge.
The Driskill has that old-line Austin feel. Great bar.
Crowne Plaza is a bit farther out, but a good location if you’re spending time in the Hill Country.
I haven’t stayed at the Hotel St. Cecelia, but it looks swanky and quite cool.
AirBNB has many good Austin options. I’m going to try this on a future visit.

More favorite shops include:
Blue Velvet for vintage shopping. Friends have purchased great vintage cowboy boots here.
One of my favorite outfits ever came from By George on South Congress.
Cavenders also has a great selection of cowboy boots, some very well priced.

Live music is everywhere.
Classic Texas two-stepping at the Broken Spoke is a fun, fun night.

6th Street is home to music venues and many, many bars.

Please let me know if I’ve missed one of your favorites and I’ll add it to the list!

 You can read about some of my previous Austin experiences here, here, and here.

Good Reads

24 Feb

Be A Fountain, Not a Drain

We’re just back from an incredible South Beach Wine & Food Festival experience and, while we’re recovering from that, I’ll leave you with a few links I found especially interesting:

The highly controversial Maurice Bessinger died at age 83. His son, Lloyd Bessinger is now at the helm of Piggie Park and is steering the restaurant away from politics. Smart move.

Are you on Twitter? “First, self-promotion becomes unseemly when it is viewed as repetitive.”

Words of wisdom from Seth Godin on modesty and hubris. Perfect timing for those of us working on presentations for National Barbecue Association.

Photographer to culinary stars, Ken Goodman, shoots several of our events. The Texas Monthly barbecue section highlighted him this month and showed some of our fab Whole Hog Extravaganza photos. Well-deserved praise. Go, Ken! And many thanks, Daniel Vaughn.

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too!