The real prizes we take home from a barbecue competition are the lifelong friendships we form. Lots of bonding takes place before cooking and during late nights gathered around the fire.
Linus Kim, born in Birmingham and currently living in South Korea, came to our OnCue class in April and spent the spring traveling the country and sampling more barbecue. He showed up at Memphis in May with the Party Q team from Batesville, Arkansas. Allen Smith just makes me smile. His team, Boar’s Night Out, won MBN Grand Champion at our contest in Murphysboro and he travels everywhere with the pig trophy. He even buckles it into the passenger seat of his truck and drives it around. Our 17th Street pitmaster, Phillip Heern, and Ken Hess from Big Bob Gibson bonded on the streets of New York City during the Block Party and they enjoying spending time together every chance they get.
Late night at Gus’s with the Ribdiculous BBQ boys is one of my favorite memories. I was in their booth sampling pickles, competition sauce, and hamburgers when Mike called to say he’d secured a table at Gus’s. What you don’t see are the 40 pieces of chicken that arrived right after we took this photo!
As the first chapter of our book, Peace, Love, and Barbecue, proclaims: Barbecue = Friends + Family + Love. It doesn’t get any better than this.