Pitmaster Seminars With An Unprecedented Faculty
"Oh I get by with a little help from my friends. Mmmm I get high with a little help from my friends. Mmmm going to try with a little help from my friends." The Beatles
I want you to meet my friends. They know a thing or two about barbecue and grilling. They've taught me a lot and I'm sure they can teach us all a thing or two more. They are the luminaries of the world of barbecue and each month one joins me live for an online video Pitmaster Seminar for members only. They last for at least an hour, and a new one is posted on the first Wednesday of the month by noon Eastern. Members are able to ask questions in advance and the speaker will join us in The Pit and answer questions after the seminar airs. Many members say they are worth the membership fee alone. If you are not already a member of our Pitmaster Club, click here for more info and to join.
Here's a seven minute excerpt from our seminar on salt with Dr. Greg Blonder.
Chris Lilly on "Chicken"
Chris Lilly emerged on the barbecue scene in 1992 when he began working for the Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q restaurant in Decatur, AL, recognized by The Wall Street Journal as having the best pork barbecue in the country and named the "Best Barbecue Restaurant in Alabama" by the Birmingham News. Lilly is now vice president, executive chef, and partner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Franchises operating two company-owned restaurants and a franchise in Monroe, NC.
Lilly is also head chef of the Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team, and the winner of 11 World BBQ Championships in several barbecue categories, three Memphis in May Grand Championships, the American Royal International Invitational, the Grand Championship at the 2003 International Jamaican Jerk Barbeque Cook-off, and in 2012, he won the title of "King of the Smokers" at an invitational competition organized by Sterling Ball.
Lilly has been a guest chef for 11 years running at the Food Network's South Beach Wine and Food Festival and has served twice as guest chef at the James Beard Foundation and the American Institute of Wine and Food. Lilly also consults with Kingsford Charcoal as a national spokesperson, the National Pork Board, KC Masterpiece, NASCAR, and Ritz Carlton.
Lilly has appeared on "Live with Regis and Kelly," "The Today Show," "The Martha Stewart Show," "ESPN College Football Live," and "ESPN Game Day," as well as numerous Food Network programs. In addition to the television appearances, his cooking has been featured in Southern Living, People, Food and Wine, Food Network Magazine, The New York Times, Men's Health, The Wall Street Journal, and Maxim Magazine. Lilly was the co-creator of the nine eppisode "The All-Star BBQ Showdown" for The Outdoor Life Network (OLN) in 2005. In 2006 he was co-creator and executive producer of the "BBQ Championship" series on Versus Network.
In 2009, Lilly authored a compilation of recipes, stories, and expert advice on outdoor cooking: "Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint ". The National Barbecue Association awarded it "Book of the Year" and it is now in its 7th printing. It has also earned a gold medal from this website.
His second book, "Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets ", came out in May 2014.
For his Seminar, we will focus on chicken. If you've been around barbecue surely you have heard about how Big Bob created the signature white sauce for chicken that is oft imitated but never duplicated (heaven knows, I've tried). If you visit the restaurants, you must order it. He has also created a very popular dish called Loaf Pan Chicken, in his book. We'll talk about selecting birds, preparing them, grilling, smoking, rotisserie, spatchcock, and how competition cooks do it.
For homework, check out his books and read my article attempt to replicate his Big Bob Gibson's Bama Birds with White Barbecue Sauce.
Candy Sue Weaver On "Pellet Smoking"
Candy Sue Weaver is one of the best known and most respected people in the world of barbecue. She is President Emeritus of the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the largest barbecue association in the world and sanctioning body to more than 500 competitions. She was elected to the Board of Directors in 2009, served as president from 2011 through 2013, and was re-elected to serve on the Board until 2016. Currently she is secretary and chairman of the education committee. She also is a member of International Barbeque Cookers Association's and competes under their rules also, the Fort Smith BBQ Society, the Oklahoma Barbecue Society, the Rocky Mountain Barbecue Association, and a lifetime member of KCBS. She is also a moderator on AmazingRibs.com
Her day job is VP of sales & marketing for BBQr's Delight, maker of food grade wood pellets for fuel in pellet-fired cookers and pellets for smoke flavoring. She has been competing since 2003 and has a roomful of trophies including a first place for sauce in her first competition ever. I had the pleasure of hanging out with her through a competition once and wrote this article about the experience.
For our Seminar we will discuss how pellets are made, how pellet smokers work, and how to amp up the smoke flavor among other things.
Ardie "Remus Powers" Davis, PhB, on "The Best Barbecue Joints In America"
Ardie Davis (a.k.a. Remus Powers) is perhaps the best known face and name on the barbecue circuit where he can often be found issuing the oath to judges. He is also beloved for his humorous monthly column in the KCBS Bull Sheet. He was named a Kansas City Barbecue Legend by the Kansas City Star with Calvin Trillin, Paul Kirk, Carolyn Wells, Ollie Gates, Rich Davis, Arthur Bryant, Anthony Rieke, Amazing Grace Harris, and Henry Perry. He also writes a weekly column Kansas City Star Chow Town blog on barbecue-related topics.
Lately, Davis has been eating his way across the nation with Chef Paul Kirk working on the second edition of America's Best BBQ by Ardie A. Davis and Chef Paul Kirk, to be released in March 2015. His other books are 25 Essentials: Smoking; 25 Essentials: Grilling; America's Best BBQ, with Chef Paul Kirk; the 25th Anniversary Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook with Paul Kirk and Carolyn Wells; America's Best Ribs, with Paul Kirk; America's Best BBQ – Homestyle – What the Champs Cook in Their Backyards, with Paul Kirk; The Great Barbecue Sauce Book; Kansas City BBQ Pocket Guide; and co-authored the Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook Edited by Ardie A. Davis, Chef Paul Kirk, and Carolyn Wells.
Davis is a certified Memphis Barbecue Network Judge and a Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) Certified Master Judge. A charter lifetime member of KCBS, he has served three terms on the Board of Directors. While on the board he proposed the development of a KCBS Certified Barbecue Judge (CBJ) program. Davis and Ed Roith wrote the original judge certification curriculum and conducted the first classes. The CBJ program has become a successful sanctioned contest network resource of more than 17,000 certified barbecue judges in the US and other countries. Davis penned the official judges' oath administered at all KCBS-sanctioned contests. He is now a Board Member Emeritus and inductee in the KCBS Hall of Flame.
Davis also founded the Diddy-Wa-Diddy National Barbecue Sauce Contest in his backyard patio in 1984. Three years later the contest became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste Contest.
Davis has appeared on various TV and radio shows, including three History Channel programs: Modern Marvels, America Eats: Barbecue, and How the States Got Their Shapes – State of Rebellion. A thoughtful philosophy major in college, Davis' interests are wide-ranging.
For our Seminar we'll get him to tell us about some of his favorite barbecue joints across the nation, and his favorite dishes. To prepare for our session, read America's Best BBQ by Ardie A. Davis and Chef Paul Kirk.
Dr. Barbecue (Ray Lampe) on "Up Your Pork Chops Chops"
Ray Lampe, known far and wide as Dr. Barbecue, is one of the world's most famous outdoor cooking authorities with seven books on the subject, countless competition trophies, and frequent television appearances.
Lampe grew up in Chicago and spent 25 years in the family trucking business. In 2000 it was time to try something new. He had been participating in BBQ cookoffs as a hobby since 1982, so he decided to take the leap. He moved to Florida and turned his hobby into a career.
Some of the things he has done: He's a judge at the "World Food Championships" in Las Vegas, he's a judge on the Food Networks "Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri", he's a judge at the "Best of the West Rib Cookoff" in Reno, he's a contestant on the Food Network Special "Chopped Grillmasters", he's featured on the Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate", he the Spokeschef for The Big Green Egg grill and smoker, he's a spokesman for The National Pork Board, he's a featured chef on "Fishing the Flats" on Fox Sports Network, he served as Executive Chef at Southern Hospitality BBQ in NY, and he's cooked in over 300 BBQ contests and won more than 300 awards. He has also appeared on practically every network including The NFL Network, The Discovery Channel, The Howard Stern Show, Martha Stewart Living on Sirius, NASCAR Sirius Radio, and in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Maxim, Life Magazine, and many many more.
His website is drbbq.com. His most recent book is "Pork Chop: 60 Recipes for Living High On the Hog" and that is precisely what we plan to have him teach us how to cook in our Seminar. Optional homework in advance is to read his book and my article on the subject.
Sterling Ball on "How To Make Your Own Signature Rubs"
Sterling Ball is a game changer. He makes a lasting impact on everything he touches. He's a top pitmaster, producer of best selling rubs, the top internet seller of grills and smokers, a competition organizer, a restaurant consultant, a legendary figure in the music world, and a philanthropist.
In 1973, Ball took went to work in his father's guitar shop and as he grew up he helped grow Ernie Ball Inc. into 400 employees with products in more than 7,000 retail stores in 120 countries. As an instrument designer, he and his team have created instruments for Leo Fender, Keith Richards, Paul McCartney, and John Petrucci – just to name a few.
In 2009, Ball founded Big Poppa Smokers, which quickly became the internet's leading retailer for barbecue grills, smokers, rubs, sauces, and accessories. His competition team won the 2012 American Royal Invitational, also known as "The World Series of BBQ." He has founded a new competition, King of the Smokers, called by many competitors the best ever. He was also instrumental in the creation of the BBQ Hall of Fame. Recently, BJ's Brewhouse partnered with Ball to enhance their barbecue menu. Ball and BJ's chefs created the, "Blue Ribbon BBQ," menu using Balls rubs, featured at more than 140 BJ's Restaurants.
In 1992 Ball, his wife Stacey, and their family established The Casey Lee Ball Foundation, a nonprofit organization where 100% of every dollar donated goes to funding for the research of pediatric kidney ailments. By the start of 2014, the foundation has donated more than $8.5 million to pediatric kidney research and other charities.
In his Seminar, we will focus on Ball's technique for developing signature rub recipes and how you can create your own. In advance of the seminar, optional reading are my article on rubs and my article on herbs and spices.
George Hensler on "Competition Barbecue. It's Different From Other Barbecue."
George Hensler is the founder and pitmaster for the competition BBQ team named "Who Are Those Guys?" They have been competing on the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) circuit since 2007.
Hensler is a very popular columnist for the KCBS Bullsheet and the National BBQ News and he has written two books, Totally Q, an insider's look at the crazy world of barbecue and Startin' the Fire, a "how to" book on starting your own competition BBQ team. You cannot read his work without laughing out loud. He resides with his family in Street, MD.
For his Seminar we will discuss what you need to know about competition cooking, what makes it different from home cooking, and what you need to do after you pay that entry fee. In advance of the seminar, I recommend you read his book Startin' the Fire and our other articles on competitions.
Robyn Lindars on "Seafood"
Robyn Lindars is the fire obsessed foodie behind GrillGirl.com where she's grilled everything from cocktails to mango cobbler. She hosts quarterly Women's Grilling Clinics in South Florida to show women why grilling is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while making healthy, flavorful dishes (that create fewer dirty dishes!). She tries to capture the "Floribbean" style of South Florida in her recipes, such as my West Indies Wings, or South Florida Smoked Fish Dip.
She has appeared on The Food Network's "Chopped Grillmasters" and the Cooking Channel's "Foodography" and her recipes have been featured in The Huffington Post, Esquire, Women's Health, Big Green Egg Lifestyle, The Miami Herald, and USA Today. She is an expert on grilling on sailboats, competes with her father's team at Memphis In May, is a certified BBQ judge, and currently owns three dogs (dog rescue is a passion and a charity she supports) and nine grills and smokers.
John Dawson on "The Pit Barrel Cooker And Other Drum Smokers"
John Dawson has been winning barbecue competitions since 2006 under the name "Patio Daddio BBQ", thus the name of his blog, patiodaddiobbq.com. His well written and beautifully photographed articles and recipes have appeared on many websites and print publicationd, and his Candied Bacon Praline Ice Cream is legendary.
His passion is good hearty rustic food. He likes to say that "life is too short to eat mediocre food". His blog elaborates "It may sound corny, but food to me is a way of giving a little of myself to those I cook for. It's a gift on a plate. There are few things in life more intimate than sharing a meal. I am also an artist, so cooking is a natural creative outlet for me."
The blog's tagline is "Come In, We're Open". He says that means his intention is to offer his open minded thoughts and ideas about food and life.
For our Seminar we will talk about his favorite cooker, the Pit Barrel Cooker, a 30 gallon barrel. In preparation for the class, read Max Good's review of the PBC and the reader comments.
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