Fifteen years ago I started competing on the pro barbecue circuit sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society by chance. I was an editor with Southern Living Magazine and was actually the garden and design editor there drawing landscape plans. I got sent to cover a barbecue competition as a fill-in for a travel writer. I got hooked.
I went home and sold my boat, my golf clubs, my guns, everything I owned as a hobby, to get into this world. I became pretty successful. I won thirty-seven State Championships, and I was the first guy to make his living with a full sponsorship deal. No restaurant, no catering, just competing.
Currently, I’m the Series Director for the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour. This is a tournament on the pro barbecue circuit featuring 750 teams, 1,200 judges, $500,000 in prize money, and thirty-one cities across the country. In each of the cities that we visit I do cooking demonstrations, teaching people how to do low-and-slow real barbecue. My choice in smokers have always been pellet smokers.
I’ve been associated with Yoder Smokers for about a year now, and we use the Yoder Smokers because they are the very best pellet smokers in the world. They’re heavy duty built, they’re reliable, set it, forget it, go to bed, and let it smoke.
One of the things I like about the Yoder pellet smoker is the versatility. For direct grilling the smoker is capable of getting up to 600° to directly sear meat. Let’s say we’re cooking a very thick steak, so we want to put that directly over the top of the fire, sear it, and then we might move that steak to an indirect area to finish cooking. It gets rid of the need for a gas grill, a charcoal grill, you’ve got an all-in-one cooker.
The thing I enjoy most about this world is teaching. Teaching people how to cook low-and-slow. I really believe in these Yoder Smokers, so this is what I’m teaching them to cook on.