Monday, June 9, 2008

Teaching barbeque - a retrospective

May was the one year anniversary of teaching our style of barbeque. I'll be honest, I didn't want to do it. That's the kind of stuff you dream up driving from Hammond, Louisianna to Kansas City by yourself in one day. At the time, it was done out of necessity. And it wasn't about being in the spotlight, that's for sure. Heck, the only reason I quit asking Sheri to go up for awards when we get our name called at contests, was because I thought it looked bad. Then, to add to my reluctance about the classes, a friend called me just as we began teaching to say what we were screwing it up for "everyone" because it was going to make it harder for him and the other good cooks to get to the stage. He said a group had discussed it at a contest the night before. I have to give him credit though. At least he had the intestinal fortitude to tell me rather than just talk about it behind our backs. Besides, my biggest concern about hosting a class was whether or not we had anything worth sharing. His call ultimately confirmed that we just might have a little something. I took that call as a compliment.

Funny the difference a year makes. Looking back, we've now hosted seven classes all over the country and taught over 400 people what we know about competition barbeque. The best part is that it's transformed from something that had to be done to something that is truly very rewarding. I never imagined the comments, calls and e-mails we would receive, not to mention the impact it could have on the folks who trusted us enough to attend our classes and believe that they were really getting the straight scoop on what we've done to be successful on the KCBS circuit.

There have been a ton of questions about whether we track our students. Other than the folks who have shared their successes with us, there just hasn't been time and teaching barbeque just doesn't seem to be about that anyway. Well, we really missed cooking this past weekend. Although we've only been the last two years, the Great BBQlossal at the World Pork Expo has become a very special event. So, to make up for it, I watched intently at the outcome of the thirteen or so events that ended on Saturday and Sunday. To my surprise, of folks who participated in a Pellet Envy or Old School versus High Tech class, there were five Grand Champions, five Reserve Grand Champions, and at least sixteen contest category wins (incomplete contest category information when this was written). Additionally, there were countless top ten finishes for the teams in the categories and overall as well.

What motivated me to write this blog entry was a call Sheri answered Sunday morning and a follow-up e-mail that came last night. Chris and Jana Early have been out on the trail, cooking and competing for some time. They've worked hard. Lately they've been Reserve Grand Champions at least twice, so I think we all knew that they were due for a win. Well, Early Bird BBQ was the Grand Champions of the Big Blue Barbecue Championship in Marysville, Kansas this past weekend. It came the weekend after Chris and Jana attended our latest class in DeSoto, Kansas. Chris was kind enough to call Sunday to thank us for sharing our knowledge. He followed up with a really well written e-mail last night. We're so very honored that Chris would consider us a part of his first ever GC. It means a lot. However, the truth his that the Early Bird BBQ was going to win an event very, very soon with or without attending our class. They are great people and are definitely part of what's right about competition barbeque these days. Their next grand champion will not be far off for sure.

Congrats to all the winners from this past weekend. We're definitely in the heat of the season at this point and the cream is starting to rise to the top for 2008. We're one third of the way through our schedule and excited about what's coming up. Between the contests, classes and other events planned, it's going to be a busy summer. Marketing wise, I know the statistics of class participants is important. However, I also know that no matter what we teach in these classes, teams still do the cooking on contest day, so it's hard to quote statistics about class participants if you know what I mean. Oh, and that friend that called unhappy about our school, well, let's just say he's since "seen the light." Stay tuned for new class dates coming soon. In the mean time, we're looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones out on the bbq trail.

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