Heath had a chance to spend some time with Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q at Memphis in May 2011. Chris and the Big Bob Gibson team would win the Pork Shoulder catagory at Memphis in May 2011 and be crowned the overall Memphis in May World Champion!
In addition to being BBQ pitmaster to stars Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, Chris is the chief spokesman and pitmaster for Kingsford.
Pork Barrel BBQ Invited to Compete in Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue
71 Competition Barbecue Teams Headed to Tennessee To Compete At 23rd Annual Contest
Washington, DC (September 6, 2011) – Jack Daniel’s today announced the official lineup of competition barbecue teams participating in the 2011 Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue contest in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Pork Barrel BBQ along with 70 barbecue teams will be competing the fourth weekend of October in the world’s most prestigious invite-only barbecue competition.
The world’s most accomplished barbecue pitmasters bring their best meats, sauces, smoking techniques, and barbecue secrets to historic Lynchburg for a two-day barbecue battle pitting the best of the best to crown the toppitmaster of barbecue. Over 25,000 visitors are expected to attend.
Pork Barrel BBQ earned an invitation to the prestigious event by winning the Grand Championship at the 2011Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle in Washington, DC. The team is the reigning Purdue National Chicken Champion and has several award-winning sauces available in grocery stores across the country, including Schnucks, Whole Foods, Central Market, and Costco.
“It is the greatest honor of our barbecue career to have been invited to compete in the prestigious Jack Daniel’s World Championship,” said Heath Hall, President and co-founder of Pork Barrel BBQ. “We are living proof that the American Dream still exists. Since starting Pork Barrel BBQ from the basements of our homes in 2008 we’ve been fortunate to create a line of sauces many people now consider their go to favorite, be successful on the competition barbecue circuit and we’ll soon open our first restaurant. It is an honor for us as one of the youngest teams in professional barbecue to get the chance to go head to head with the best pitmasters in the world at the Jack!”
To qualify for “The Jack”, teams must either win a competition in which 50 or more teams participated, or win a qualifying state championship and be selected in a blind drawing. Automatic invitations are given to the 2010 Jack Daniel’s Grand Champion and the winner of the 2011 Memphis in May, 2010 American Royal Open and 2011 Houston World’s Championship Bar-B-Que contests.
Visit http://bit.ly/Jack71 to see the teams from across the United States and around the world competing in the 23rd annual contest.
Pork Barrel BBQ had a chance to catch up with Yazoo’s Delta Q pitmaster Melissa Cookston at Memphis in May 2011 and reflect on Yazoo’s First Place Whole Hog and Grand Championship win at Memphis in May 2010. Yazoo’s Delta Q went on to win the 2011 Memphis in May Whole Hog Catagory and finish in the top 3 overall!
Dreaming of a Jambo Pit by Jamie Geer? Me too. Since the day I turned 16 and got my drivers license I’ve had visions of a 1958 Corvette dancing in my head. From the distinguishing four headlights and immense chrome in the front to the beauty of the Roman Red paint job that covers the exterior you’re sure to turn heads at every stop and then strain the very neck that head is attached to as you excelerate away. The 1958 Corvette wasn’t just a car, it was a work of art – a museum quality piece with its optional 290 horsepower fuel injected V8 engine that made everybody else with a car jealous at first blush.
Today, some 20 years later, I still have the vision of owning that 58 Vette, but it no longer dances alone in the wish list of my mind. It now shares that void with a vision of owning, what can only be called the equivalent of the Corvette on the competition BBQ circuit, a Jambo Pit.
Jambo Pitshave been called by many on the competition BBQ circuit, “The best smokers money can buy.” Pitmasters aren’t just saying that in passing as many of today’s top competitive BBQ teams are putting their money where their mouth is and using these pits hand crafted by Jamie Geer, owner of the Fort Worth, TX based company, all across America. Among the users of Jambo Pits are our friends Tuffy Stone of the Cool Smoke competition BBQ team (who’s pit Jamie is about to give you a tour of) and Mike Richter of Chix, Swine & Bovine competition BBQ team- both of these teams have been enjoy immense success on the competition BBQ circuit.
Jamie has been building quality smokers that offer consistent results since 1989. One of the unique things about Jamie Geer is that he didn’t start out as a pit builder – he started out as a serious competitor on the competition BBQ circuit and has the trophies to prove it. (You might remember him from TLC’s BBQ Pitmastersshow.) He knows what series BBQ’ers are looking for in a smoker and he delivers big time!
If you’d like a Jambo Pit you’ll have to get in line with the rest of us - Jamie is backordered through October and that list grows by the day. Why the demand? These aren’t just functional BBQ pits, they are literally works of art that are handcrafted from top quality materials with an attention to detail that only Jamie can provide as he builds each pit one at a time. Some of the features you’ll find on these beauties include insulated fire boxes, torque flex axles, chrome wheels, white letter tires, custom coatings and paint, stainless steel hinges, and spacious work surfaces. The downside is you’ll no longer be able to blame your smoker if your meats don’t turn out well.
On Jamie’s website he says, “Pull into a competition or your neighborhood with a Geer pit in tow and forget about going unnoticed. These pits will turn heads wherever you go.” We couldn’t agree more! Pull into a BBQ contest with a Jambo Pit and you’re sure to turn and strain a few necks, just like that 1958 Corvette.
While we were at Memphis in May, Pork Barrel BBQ was lucky enough to get a few minutes of Jamie’s time (he was cooking with Tuffy Stone’s Cool Smoke team and about to make the walk with Tuffy to collect their Memphis in May World Championship BBQ trophy for their pork shoulder when we filmed this clip). We asked Jamie to take us on a tour of Tuffy’s new Jambo Pit. Sit back and enjoy our interview with BBQ Pit builder extraordinaire and all around good guy Jamie Geer of Jambo Pits.
If you’re still using a Weber or some other smokers, but would like to ride or Que in the Corvette of smokers give Jamie a call at 817-223-3918 or email him at TXJGEER@aol.com and let him know that Pork Barrel BBQ sent you! You won’t be sorry you called!
Over the course of the past year we’ve had the chance to get to know some of the great legends of BBQ, including guys like Pat Burke and Mike Mills – the founders of the Legends of BBQ Club. Tuffy, a friend and fellow Virginian, is a guy who has made a name for himself and risen to “Legend” status in short order. Tuffy is pitmaster of the Cool Smoke competition BBQ team and owner of Q Barbeque (two locations in Midlothian, VA and Hampton, VA). If the name Tuffy Stone is ringing a bell in your head but you just can’t quite place where you’ve heard it before it is probably because you saw him on TLC’s hit show BBQ Pitmasters.
For a guy with celebrity status and the ability to make anything placed on a smoker taste like a five star meal you might think he’d be working in the distance and shadows of his Jambo Pit built by legendary smoker builder and artisan Jamie Geer (Tuffy’s pit looks more like a cherry red Corvette than a smoker – it performs more like one too!), but he isn’t. Tuffy is as approachable as they come and loves to talk BBQ with fellow competitors, customers and fans.
The best part of the Competition BBQ circuit isn’t the great barbecue found around every corner, it is the chance to meet and become friends with some of the best folk around – like Tuffy. BBQ teams from around the country compete in contests sanctioned by a number of barbecue societies including KCBS, MIM, and MBN. These teams use everything from Weber Grills to Jambo Pits to homemade smokers to compete for prizes and tropies in catagories like chicken, beef brisket, pork shoulder, pork ribs, and whole hog. If you love to grill find a contest near your home and sign up – you’ll have a blast and meet some great folks!
Now sit back and enjoy our interview with BBQ Pitmaster Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke.
For more information on Pork Barrel BBQ and to follow our adventures at Memphis in May 2010 stay tuned to our blog and Twitter pages.
A park becomes a smoking section as competitive barbecuers pit their pit skills against the best at Smoke in the Valley.
By Elisa Ludwig
For The Inquirer
At 8 a.m. Saturday, Mark Zonfrillo, an ER pediatrician from Mount Airy, watched closely as his brother Paul slid a thermometer into the beef brisket. “Looks good,” Paul announced, nodding.
Sleep-deprived but determined, the brothers and their families – also known as team ZBQ – had worked through the rain and tornado warnings the night before, smoking, basting, and pampering their barbecue entries.
By morning, the sky was clear and two 8-pound pork butts were already wrapped and resting in the cooler. The chicken was marinating on ice. Six racks of ribs were still smoking.
Plumes of barbecue smoke and equally tenuous hopes for a pig-topped trophy hovered above the patchwork of tents and smokers at the second annual Smoke in the Valley BBQ Cook-Off Competition in Green Lane, near Lansdale, on May 15, as 49 teams from across the country readied their barbecue contenders.
This competition, a fundraiser for the Green Lane volunteer fire company, is one of 300 across the country, an increase from fewer than 60 ten years ago sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, the most influential governing body of competitive barbecue, which provides trained judges and criteria.
The Zonfrillo team, among the ever-growing number of amateurs bitten by the competitive barbecue bug, arrived at Isaac Smith Park at noon on Friday – Paul Zonfrillo, his wife, Ann, and daughter Maria, 13, drove down from their home in Narragansett, R.I., smoker and tents in a U-Haul. Mark and Nancy Zonfrillo and infant daughter Ella traveled from Mount Airy. The team spent Friday setting up the tents, prepping the food, and starting the meats in the smoker – then sleeping in three-hour shifts so someone could watch the smoker all night.
A look beyond ZBQ’s relatively humble setup revealed RVs airbrushed with dancing pigs, inflatable gnomes, high-end custom smoking rigs, stereo systems blaring country music, sponsorships from charcoal companies.
The scrappiest award would have to go to the hometown team Flavor File, whose members constructed their own smokers out of office filing cabinets. “We saw something on YouTube that gave us the idea,” said Rob Carpenter, who salvaged the cabinets from an office fire. “It probably took us about six months to come up with a prototype.” This was their first competition.
ZBQ, on the other hand, has been on the BBQ contest circuit for four years, and taken home a few awards, which they proudly display. But mostly they consider their entry in 10 or so competitions each season a hobby.
“We’re really an ‘Any Given Sunday’ kind of team,” said Mark, whose brother Paul bought him a smoker as a wedding gift. It all began with beer-can chicken in the backyard and grew from there, he explained. “A lot of these people go to every competition and win every time. We just do this to spend time together.”
His daughter Maria thinks reality TV has inspired more competitors: “I think these events are becoming more competitive because more people are watching TLC’s Pitmasters.” She and her brother Nick, 18, placed third in a Junior World Barbecue Championship last year in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Around 9:30 a.m., the park hit a lull, as teams settled into lounge chairs, toasting with beers and Bloody Marys. Turn-in wasn’t for another couple of hours; it was a matter of waiting for the meat to finish cooking.
Turn-in times, as dictated by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, are strict: noon for chicken; 12:30 p.m for ribs; 1 p.m. for pulled pork, 1:30 p.m. for brisket. Fall beyond a few minutes and a team will be disqualified. Presentation is just as seriously prescribed: Garnishes are limited to parsley, cilantro, and certain types of lettuce (red-leaf is verboten); “sculpturing” meat is a no-no.
Asked whether the judging is subjective, judge Jim Ruben, a barbecue pitmaster himself, said, “It is and it isn’t. Every human being has their likes and dislikes. But what’s neat about the Kansas City Barbecue Society is that the judging is always blind. … These folks are just good down-to-earth people.”
“The stuff you see on TV is usually scripted.”
By 11 a.m., people with T-shirt slogans like “You Don’t Need Teef to Eat Our Beef” were back on their feet, spritzing meat with apple juice, taking temperatures, crimping foil.
Activity in the ZBQ tent began to heat up. The ribs went in for a second glazing. The chicken thighs came out of the smoker and were dredged in sauce. The smell of vinegar wafted through the tent. The wind picked up, blowing plates and bottles off the table.
“This can be more stressful than my job at times,” said Mark. “In the emergency room, I know what I’m doing. I don’t always know what I’m doing here,” he admitted.
This next hour, Paul said, is make-or-break time. All of the team’s work can be endangered by a few extra minutes in the smoker, or poor foil wrapping, or – “We forgot the brown sugar on the ribs,” Paul announced gravely.
“It’ll be OK,” Ann said. “We’ll add a little extra at the end.”
At 11:50 a.m., competitors began the mad dash across the park’s green, across the street, and up the stairs to the second floor of the firehouse to deliver their first foam presentation boxes to the judges. Mark timed the trip earlier (31/2 minutes).
In the firehouse bingo hall, shielded from contestants, eight tables of judges awaited their portions. They inspected and ate in silence, occasionally licking a finger. They recorded scores (from 2 to 9 for appearance, taste, and tenderness).
Back at the tent, ribs were lined up for inspection. Pink smoke ring: check. Retraction from the bone: check. No surface irregularities: check. The team debated the best-looking rack, with Mark making the final call. The ribs were sliced evenly and set on the bias in their box for delivery.
At 12:39 p.m., Paul sat, announcing he had a headache. Ann handed him a coffee and he downed it. There was no time: The pork was calling. Pulling the shoulder meat is a laborious, two-person job, but it looked moist and, after an additional sprinkling of salt and spice, Paul was satisfied with the flavor overall. At 12:55 p.m., it was sent off.
Just when the team should have been feeling relief hitting the home stretch, ZBQ hit a snag with their final round. Mark sliced the flat cut brisket and clinically observed that it was looking dry. The team strategized and decided to turn in the point cut instead, in a combination of burnt-end chunks and chopped meat, moistened with au jus.
“A few years ago, we wouldn’t have thought to do this,” Paul said. “But it’s completely fine to just turn in the point if that’s the better cut.”
The final box was delivered with an exhausted cheer. Mark doled out plates of barbecue and his wife Nancy’s mayo-less slaw to friends and guests; some team members retired for showers and naps.
At 5 p.m., the team reconvened at a pavilion to hear the results. They were late and stood at the back, so it was almost impossible to hear.
The announcer started calling out winners, starting with 10th place, for chicken. Cheers and polite clapping followed each. With no recognition for chicken, brisket, or pork, it started to look pretty hopeless for ZBQ, as the ribs category approached.
“49 teams,” Mark said. “It’s the biggest competition we’ve ever faced.”
His wife, holding baby Ella, smiled sympathetically.
Cruzen-2-Q was called up for a prize. Then Lo’-N-Slo’. Fire & Spice. The announcer continued.
“First place: Ribs. ZBQ.”
Paul, Maria, and Ann looked at one another in disbelief, then screamed. Mark joined them as they sprinted to the front for handshakes and photos.
They returned with a trophy and a check for $300. Their rib score was 177.714; 180 is considered perfect.
“I can’t believe it,” Maria said.
“I’m shocked!” said Mark.
Paul just smiled and raised the trophy so the golden pig glinted in the sun.
Pork in the Parkis sure to be a great time with over 100 competition teams expected to participate April 16-17 at Winterplace Park in Salisbury, MD. Pork in the Park is the largest KCBS event on the East Coast and will see some of the best teams in the nation compete. If you’re in the neighborhood stop by the Pork Barrel BBQ site and say hi. While there you’ll also be able to visit Cool Smoke of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters Fame. It should be a great time for the whole family!!!