His posts on the forum come from the enigmatic handle, Ford. Just one word, like Prince (or whatever he calls himself these days). But if you’ve been around the forum and the competitive bbq life for a while, you really don’t need to know more than that one word.
With his wife, Carol, and their pooches, Ford has been competing and racking up trophies and ribbons under the Great Lakes BBQ and Feed Co. name since 2001 and along the way they’ve taken many others into their tent and helped them get their starts, as well.
Always generous with advice and recipes (including his legendary breakfast beef tenderloins), Ford has a straight-shooting, clear headed style for posting, and a fairly well respected sense of style in living (wearing Wingtipped shoes in a severely muddy competition in Texas is the way they seem to remember him down in the lonestar state), such as the ‘colorful’ shirts he and Carol wear to the Friday night parties at competitions.
Others remember his readiness to share advice and guidance on cooking temps, times and recipes, or his cooking with Long Island Bob Regan and other members of the U.S. Air Force at the American Royal in 2003. Ford is proud of his country, the young men and women that serve for us all, and cooking bbq. I can’t think of too many better examples of people giving back to all of them at once.
Name? Ford Alison
Where From and/or where do you currently live? Grew up in Toronto and moved to Michigan in the early 90’s. Currently live in the country with a mailing address of Sparta MI.
Married, kids, etc…? Married Carol in the early 90’s. Neither of us had children prior to our marriage so our “kids” are our dogs – Becky, Max, Jim and Candy. Candy is our pup at 2 years old and the others are all between 9-10. All 4 are Brittany’s and both Jim and Candy were rescues form American Brittany Rescue. We’ve brought them to a few contests in the past and they are great QC inspectors. My only problem is that they think other teams food is just as good as mine. Wouldn’t make very good judges as they don’t take time to look at presentation before diving into the box. Good place for a judges joke here but I don’t bash judges anymore, just the system.
Profession (even if not bbq 24/7– if you cater, vend,etc please mention)? I’m a Project Management Consultant for PM Solutions, Inc based out of Philadelphia. We provide methodology/process improvement in the Project and Portfolio Management areas as well as extended staffing for managing large projects.
We’ve started to do a little catering but it’s limited due to my travel schedule and contests on weekends. My goal is to eventually retire or go part time with consulting and augment my income with catering.
# of pits and what are they? I now have 3 FE’s as my main cookers. I also have 2 BGE’s – XL and L that are for sale. I also have a Weber kettle with rotisserie, WSM and Smokey Joe. And I own a Weber Summit D6 with the smoker attachment.
Have you ever made your own pit, if so, how many and what styles? Never tried it.
Earliest memory of bbqing– is/was your family involved? I’ve been a griller for many years but living in Toronto, BBQ was not a big thing in the 60’s- 80’s. But travel introduced me to slow smoked food and when I moved to Michigan buying a smoker became a priority. And that was before I found the BBQ Forum so I learned a lot reading some books and just experimenting.
Favorite thing about bbqing? It’s my favorite relaxation from work. Whether a competition or preparing dinner for just the two of us, it is therapy for me.
How you found the forum and when (if you can remember)? I found it in 2000 and did my first post o10/25/2000. I first found competition BBQ and the websites when I judged the 2000 State of Michigan championship. A pit was there with a website www.bbqpits.com and that led to the Forum.
What was your first pit? My first pit was a Charbroil charcoal bullet – charcoal fired, then an el cheapo Brinkman offset. I graduated to a Klose Mobile Catering Rig and sold it when I bought a Klose 36”x8’ with fajita grill and 2 burners. Then reality set in and I bought a 16 foot enclosed trailer – 8.5 wide and added an FE100.
First thing you remember cooking (doesn’t have to be bbq)? Baking actually – I learned from my grandmother and she was a great baker. We’d visit her most weekends as I was growing up and the house always smelled of fresh baking. There would be pies, cakes and cookies ready for us. Then I said something about wanting to see her bake and next thing I was making chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been hooked on cooking ever since and still have that recipe. I know it was before my brother was born so I was probably about 5.
Favorite bbq woods, charcoal, rub, sauce, etc? I use all hickory pellets now. Like Pecan chunks when using the Kettle to do chicken. On the offsets I always burned a mix of hickory and apple. Charcoal – Royal Oak lump. Rub & Sauce – for competition I use Slabs and at home I like it as well but also play around with many rubs and sauce. Now for beef tenderloin I like either Slabs beef or Dizzy Pig Cowlick as a rub and no sauce.
Favorite/best competition memory (where, when, who with, team name, etc….)? Tough – I guess finally winning Grand Rapids in 2007. But my first contest where we didn’t get a call, so tired we could barely stand up and got the score sheets and finished 9th overall was enough to get me hooked. And that judging experience in 2000 where I first saw the world of competition BBQ was just overwhelming, especially when I called a few places and asked about the cost of smokers.
Do you eat bbq in restaurants– if so, where, when why? Sure. But not at the big chains like Damons, Applebees, etc. I look for local places and for competition teams that also have a restaurant. I spend a lot of time on the road and some years eat 150+ dinners at restaurants so I get to try different places. Some good, some not so good. I use the Forum to help find these places.
Favorite record albums, books, TV shows, movie,etc…whatever you want to include.
Music – a C&W fan as well as pre 1970 rock and roll. Most times however music is a background filler for me.
Books –I love to read and spend hours doing it. Mystery books – love Robert Parker.
Other than sports on TV I don’t really watch a lot. Some Food TV stuff and some home improvement shows are OK. Movies are OK when they come out on DVD but I rarely do the cinema thing anymore.
Favorite non-BBQ Food to eat and/or cook (or thing you eat most often when not eating bbq)? Hard to say but probably a good steak, nice and rare. But I enjoy a lot of different foods leaning toward Tex-Mex, Chinese, Cajun and some seafood. And I love my wife’s Creamy Chicken Enchiladas.
Favorite beer, favorite beer to drink w/ food? I usually drink Red Dog. I like most beers although heavy dark ones limit how much I can consume.
Favorite BBQForum Thread (can include “what’s an abt?” if you want)? I get a kick out of the food pics that Chez posts these days.
Least Favorite BBQForum Thread (ditto)? no comment.
Do you have a web site and when did you start and why? Yes – but I don’t keep it up to date and no longer send it out.