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What's This Site About?

I enjoy both grilling and barbecueing. I have grilled for many years, but until about three years ago most of my exposure to real barbecue was at BBQ restaurants throughout the south, (or, I hate to admit it, even in the north) or the rare opportunity to sample BBQ cooked by acquaintances who were members of the exotic fraternity of cooks known as pitmasters, initiated in the secret rituals of BBQ magic.

Rains Mountain BBQ

I took the plunge into real BBQ cooking in the summer of 1995, when inspired by a smoked turkey brought to a chile-heads potluck dinner, I bought a Coleman charcoal fired water smoker. I soon discovered that without knowing much at all about what I was doing I could turn out some pretty decent BBQ. A long ways from perfect, but a big step up from grilling. Of course, that only whetted my appetite. Unfortunately, I live in the city with very little space to devote to outdoor cooking. I also travel frequently, leaving little time to pursue this new hobby. I found that the number of times I could drag out the Coleman, fire up the charcoal, and spend the whole day babysitting it were fairly infrequent.

BBQ Chicken During the summer of 1996 I heard about a new-fangled smoker made by a crazy inventor named Dwight down in Oklahoma. It is powered by gas for a heat source and uses wood pellets, chips, or chunks for smoke. This is a serious unit, built hell for stout, and can cook two weeks worth of BBQ in one session. Since aquiring that bad boy my barbecuing has gone into high gear. My wife Irene started complaining that I am feeding her too much meat. I am barbecuing much more frequently and starting to learn something about technique, the difference between acceptable BBQ and nirvana. While BBQ cooked in a gas smoker, using chips or chunks for smoke, is a compromise and isn't of the same quality as BBQ cooked over wood coals or burning wood, excellent results can be obtained with this unit due to the unique design. Unfortunately the company, Southwest Outdoor Cooking Systems, that manufactured the smoker is no longer in business and they are no longer available.

Then I learned of an Internet BBQ mailing list, run by Rick Thead, devoted to the discussion of BBQ and frequented by the orneriest, stubbornest, most opinionated bunch of individuals I have run across in one spot. But they all share one thing in common, a passion for the pit, and a desire to achieve perfection in the art of BBQ. Some of the top BBQ cooks in the country are members of this list and the lessons to be learned from them are worth a year's tuition at Harvard. Since then Dave Lineback started a second BBQ mailing list devoted to discussion of traditional BBQ cooking over live coals as it's been done for generations in North Carolina.

It was all downhill from there. I joined the New England BBQ Society, went to a class to become a certified Kansas City BBQ Society judge, and joined a competition cooking team, The Chicken Chokin' Smokin' Blues. I recently started a BBQ Competition Mailing List for discussion of cookoffs around the country.

Weber Kettle
BBQ Brisket Sandwich When I decided to put together this website devoted to BBQ I was determined to share the wealth of knowledge I have gained from the unique group of individuals on the BBQ mailing lists as well as my own experiences and make it accessible to others who may just now be getting up their nerve to dabble in this dark art called barbecue but don't really know where to start. I want this to become the definitive source of BBQ knowledge on the Internet. It will take time to achieve that goal so I hope you will check back frequently as this site grows.

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