I started writing "Random Thoughts" earlier in the summer. I couldn't quite get anything organized into a meaningful stream of thoughts, so I started jotting down
fragments. Six months later, some are relevant, some aren't so much. I massaged them a bit, added some, and submit this article for your holiday
reading. I've included dates to give a point of reference.

June 29, 2006

Why are you nervous the days leading up to a contest? You've doubled checked lists,
you've got a handle on what needs done, you know how to pack, you have your meat, you know how to get
there. Yet you pace like a caged tiger.

Why is it so difficult to communicate with the meat cutters? I either can't communicate due to language barriers, or I get the
"I know all about meat and how to cook it better than everyon" attitude.

July 2, 2006

Why, why, WHY can't all four categories click at the same time? Why I ask, why?

Ever wonder how this "hobby" got so out of control? One cooker led to two.  Two led to
three. Three WSMs led to an FE. One canopy isn't good enough. Two is better. Maybe three is
best. Maybe an RV is the ticket. Tell me you haven't had those thoughts.

Ever wonder why you are so introverted in your everyday life the closer it gets to BBQ competition day, but when you arrive at a contest, this different person is released.

I wonder how much sleep I've lost because of the BBQ adventure? Cooking, prepping, packing, thinking,
tinkering. Guess I'll do without.

July 6, 2006 (just before Shannon)

I kind of like cooking back to back weekends a Newbie first for me. Not sure the family has the same feelings, but they are troopers and tag along

July 10, 2006 (just after Shannon)

Why, why, WHY can't all four categories click at the same time? Why I ask, why?

Wonder what it would be like cooking three weekends in a row. Have a good feeling what the family would say to that.

9, 9, 9, 8, 8, 5. Need I say more?

How long do you consternate over the scores of the day. As exhausted as I was on Saturday, there I was at 11:30pm, still trying to figure out pork scores.

Why, why, WHY can't all four categories click at the same time? Why I ask, why?

Corn fields, Shannon, sun rise a little piece of heaven.

Those newbie teams that got called this weekend now the hook is set HA! You're in this for the long haul

Watermelon pie that sounds goooooood.

Unless you win Grand Champion, are you ever satisfied with how you did?

August 2, 2006 (preparing for Waucoma)

How do I fit an FE100, all my competition stuff, AND all our camping gear into a Dodge Grand
Caravan? Enterprise car rental!

An FE100 looks much bigger on its side than it does standing up.

Waucoma – I wonder how many people in Iowa know where Waucoma is.

August 8, 2006 (after Waucoma)

4 CATEGORIES CLICK FINALLY!!! Still didn't make the fifth walk.

The only way to beat Clone cook where he ain't!!

Is there such thing as a leak proof tent?

Boy, an RV is sure looking nice (see previous thought).

Entry fees, typical. Meat prices typical. Rental van to get family to Waucoma,
expensive. Having your 10yo daughter hold your hand walking back from awards and
say "I like this contest, this is fun" priceless.

August 18, 2006 (before Dubuque)

Wonder if it'll rain this year?

Wonder if the Bobcat is going to be on the prowl this year. Least my FE stands a little better

August 21, 2006 (after Dubuque)

Whoa the unveiling of the Clonesicle.

I'm a sick man wake up at 6:00a Saturday morning, from a dream where I was in a panic, not about turning in brisket when pork is due, or it being 11:45 and I forgot to cook the chicken, or I trip on the way to turn in
brisket no instead I'm panicking because its 8:30 and I might be missing the "pre-shot" Joey, you have a problem.

No calls humph. 6th, 10th, 6th, 10th frustration and that was damn good BBQ!ERGHHHH!

September 12, 2006

Haven't cooked a competition in a month, but I've cooked more food in that month than I have at all contests combined.

On a plane to go to the AZ desert for work, all I can think about is brisket and ribs, and pork, and that little pecker

Great seeing your buddies going to the Jack! Someday, someday!

5 weeks without a competition is TOO long. I'm convinced I'll go crazy.

September 25, 2006 (just after Bloomington)

70mph wind EZ-ups EZ parachutes is more like it.

7:30pm, Friday September 22, 2006, Bloomington IL Sale barn welcome to BBQ Baghdad.

1st, 1st, 8th, 8th .good enough for 4th getting closer. I can only hope that my first GC will be met with the same enthusiasm that Alex of Dr. Porkenstien exhibited on
Saturday. Now that was excitement!!

3 canopies wasted this year. Dang that wasn't part of the budget.

October 12, 2006

I feel better today. 5 days of a wicked intestinal flu bug. If I hadn't paid my entry for Arthur,
I'd stay home.

October 16, 2006

Bitter cold, should have stayed home! Oh 8th overall, not bad, couple calls, just a tough contest to feel good about.

October 23, 2006 (Just after Libertyville)

That was the best Friday night I've ever had. That's why we BBQ.

Smack talk – boy there's a topic for the blog!!! Need a guest writer for it. Darren? Scottie? Carp? better think about that one.

KRE – good job!

Why, why, why, can't all 4 categories hit. Chicken and ribs, great all year, tank in
Libertyville. All year, couldn't buy a call in pork, Libertyville, 1st place. WHY WHY WHY
can't they all hit $%^@!

October 28, 2006

Scottie did it! Quick phone call to him, learn the true bittersweetness of the
win. BBQ and fairytale ending don't seem to go together, except this time!

December 15, 2006

The sophomore season. Did I meet my expectations? I'm not sure. Did I have fun?
Absolutely. I didn't take my 5th walk, but I certainly learned a lot. Am I happy with our
team's performance, yeah, I guess. Doesn't remove the fact that I "wannab"
better. Biggest lesson of the season, enjoy the camaraderie. I was finally able to relax a bit and genuinely enjoy the company of my fellow
Qers. So maybe that's the lesson of the sophomore, relax, enjoy, and have a good time.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. We'll be grouching about the heat soon
Joey Mac

Last year I submitted a series of articles about judging and what goes on under the big top. It been awhile since
I've discussed competition decorum, so I thought it was time to acknowledge some people that all cooks, judges, and organizers must become familiar with…the KCBS Representative or simply the
"Rep". These men and women are the extensions KCBS at the contests being conducted any given weekend. The reps are instrumental in assuring everything runs smoothly at an event. They are the folks that make sure a contest in South Carolina will have the same basic look and feel as one conducted in Kansas City, or Washington State. Hope you find it informative. Again I enlisted the help of some folks in coming up with the following question / answer format discussion.

Q. What is the role of a contest rep?

A. The canned answer: the reps are present to ensure the published rules of the KCBS are followed. Those rules are in place to keep the competition fair and apply to the teams, the judges, as well as to the reps themselves. More practically, reps ensure teams prepare and present their entries according to the rules, oversee the judging process, tabulate the scores, verify the results, distribute them, and do the KCBS paperwork. In a business sense, the reps serve as the public face for the KCBS to the
contest's organizers and its sponsors. Countless hours of planning go into putting together a contest and tens thousands of dollars will change hands before the contest is over. In this respect, the contest representatives are responsible for delivering a satisfactory product, a well-run contest.

Q. What is the background of a typical rep?

A. Most reps have long experience with the KCBS and have come up through the ranks as competitors and/or as certified judges. Many still cook competitively. In their ‘real' lives, most reps are business people, employed in a wide range of professional and technical fields.

Q. Do reps get paid for serving at a contest?

A. Yes, contest reps are paid a fee, set by KCBS, by the contest organizer for their services. They are reimbursed for mileage, lodging, and meal expenses. Most reps usually use at least one day of vacation from their regular jobs, and have to spend much of the weekend away from their homes and families.

Q. How many reps are needed at a contest?

A. Two reps are required by the KCBS for contests of up to 49 teams. A third is called for at 50 teams with an additional rep for each increment of 25 teams above that.

Q. Do the same sets of reps always work together?

A. There are a few married couples where both spouses are reps and they do tend to always work together. Some reps tend to work exclusively with certain other reps. Many reps can be thought of as free agents, electing to serve contests as their schedules dictates.

Q. How does a rep get assigned to a particular contest?

A. There are several ways. When the contest calendar for the upcoming year is published, the reps can request to serve at certain contests. A contest organizer can request to have particular reps serve at that event. An organizer can also express the desire to have a particular rep not serve at the event. As a general rule, reps will serve at contests within their own geographic region. This saves the organizers the additional expenses of airfare or mileage associated with bringing reps in from other parts of the country.

Q. How does a person become a contest rep?

A. A candidate must train under qualified reps at a minimum of four sanctioned contests before earning his or her ‘wings.' Under the
reps' supervision, a trainee is expected to satisfactorily perform all of the tasks – both those behind-the-scenes and those in the public eye – a rep would normally do during the course of a contest. After each contest, the
candidate's performance and knowledge of the rules are critiqued by the supervising reps. Ideally, a candidate will train under as many reps as possible in order to be exposed to a wider variety of
reps' ways of managing a contest. "Reps in training" do not have expenses covered by the organizer.

Q. Could you provide a timeline of a rep's activities from when a contest starts through its conclusion?

A. The reps' involvement begins several weeks before the contest when at least one of the scheduled reps will meet with the organizer either in person, by phone, or via email. During these meetings, they discuss how the plans for the contest are progressing, get an update on the status of the team and judging rosters, and provide any needed input.


Reps will arrive onsite late Friday morning or early afternoon. They first meet with the organizer to discuss last-minute changes to the teams. Reps usually then walk around the contest site and introduce themselves to each of the teams. This allows the reps to rekindle old acquaintances and gives them the opportunity to meet new teams and answer any questions they may have. Later in the afternoon, after the team roster has been finalized, the reps retreat to a secure location where the information is updated in the computer. It is at this time that the reps assign each team their unique identifying number according to the numbering convention
they'll use at that event. Those numbers are then written on the Styrofoam boxes the teams will use for turning in their entries. The cooks meeting is held later in the day and the boxes are distributed to the teams at its conclusion. Depending on when the meeting was held, the reps may hang around the site for an extended time or they may leave shortly afterward for the night. The reps are not required or expected to remain on the contest grounds overnight.


Upon arrival on Saturday morning, reps typically visit each team again ensuring everything is in order, times are understood, and answer any questions the cooks may have come up with. Next they set up in the
judge's tent. This means setting up the computer and printer and conducting the
judges' meeting. The reps must also compare the number of judges against the number required and make a decision as to how any judge deficiencies will be rectified. If necessary to recruit judges from ‘off the
street,' one of the reps will give them a judging crash-course after the meeting. At the meeting the judges will be assigned to their table for the day.

When the judging begins, both reps will initially oversee the renumbering and the judging. As the completed score cards are turned in, one rep will begin entering scores into the computer while the other continues to monitor the turn-in table, the renumbering station, and the judges.

After judging is completed, reps finish entering scores, verify results, print and make copies of results, collate them, and get them ready for distribution at the awards ceremony. If time allows before the ceremony, the reps will also do all the invoicing, accounting, and other reports necessary to close the books on that contest.

Much like the teams, the reps' schedule at a contest starts with an initial period of planning and preparation followed by an extended period with little to do
that's capped by several hours of intense activity and high stress to meet the deadline of the awards ceremony.

Q. What is the most rewarding aspect of being a rep?

A. For me, it's getting to meet the new teams and introducing them to this pastime. The experienced teams already know all the ropes and almost make the reps unnecessary, at least up until the judging commences. Should a new team get their first call during the awards ceremony,
it's especially gratifying to watch the members of a team who, just seconds earlier, looked utterly exhausted and overwhelmed by the experience leap to their feet at the announcement and dance to the stage.
It's easy to remember going through that same broad range of emotions the first time I heard my team name called.

Q. What's the least enjoyable part of being a contest rep? Is it having to disqualify a team?

A. Informing a team that they've been disqualified is unpleasant, but I accept that responsibility. I
don't want to dwell on disqualifications but I won't declare an entry to be illegal unless
it's a clear-cut violation and the other reps present are in complete agreement. I can then deliver the bad news to the team with a clear conscience.
I'd be much more troubled by the task if the decision was made for ambiguous reasons.

The most basic task of a contest rep is to solve problems and manage people with the goal of conducting a contest as fairly and efficiently as possible. At a 60-team contest, once all the teams, judges, and volunteers are added up, somewhere around 250 people are directly involved with that event during its 30 to 36-hour run. A contest rep must interact effectively with every one of those people at some point: sometimes under difficult weather conditions and always under the pressure of time.

Conflicts are inevitable during the course of a contest, regardless of its size. I’ve found that what troubles me long after the contest is over, are those rare occasions when I’m not able to find some way to communicate effectively with a cook, or a team member, or with a judge to everyone’s satisfaction. Fortunately, conflicts such as these occur much less frequently in a contest environment than they do in ‘real’ life. Barbecue is great at bridging many of the personal differences between people. This common ground can usually be used to foster a civil, working relationship with the people I encounter at contests.

As a contest cook and formerly very active judge, I respect the teams who invest their time, money, and prestige to compete as well as the dedicated judges who give up a significant part of their weekend to participate in a contest. 99 times out of 100, the teams and the judges return that respect and recognize my desire and efforts at managing a contest as fairly and efficiently as I’m able. It’s the memory of that 100th one that always dogs me long after the contest is over.

In closing, the benefits of serving as a contest rep in this most unique and enjoyable passtime outweigh the negatives by a factor of…99 to 1.

Hope you enjoyed the article and have a safe and happy holiday season.

Joey Mac

By now most of you have heard that Scottie Johnson of CancerSucksChicago.com won the Jack Daniel’s Invitational this year. His story (Told to Ray Basso in a podcast here) is dramatic and moving in the way that touches on the most elemental parts of life– dreams fulfilled and the tragedies that accompany them. It’s the kind of story Hollywood likes to tell. Those who know him from the Bbqforum know about his wit, his sarcasm, his Cancer research foundation which has raised tens of thousands of dollars for research, and his Thanksgiving recipe for White Castle stuffing.

Name? Scottie Johnson

Where From and/or where do you currently live? Originally born in Glen Carbon, Illinois, a suburb of St. Louis. Moved to Riverside, Illinois when I was 4 years old. Currently I live in Westmont, Illinois

Married, kids, etc…? I am a widower. My wife Corliss passed away in 2003 from complications from cancer. I have 2 daughters, Zoe, age 9 and Lexi age 5.

Profession (even if not bbq 24/7– if you cater, vend, etc please mention)?
I am currently a Manager of a Litigation Department of a major Chicago Law Firm. I will have my 20th anniversary in a few weeks. I also run a 501c3 foundation that raises money for cancer research. I started that when my wife passed away. That in itself is almost a full time job, even though we do not have any paid staffers.

# of pits and what are they? Geez, now I am going to have to show my addiction. I have a FE-100 that I use for my competition cooking, 2 WSM’s, a Weber gasser, 4 Weber kettles, 2 Weber tailgaters, and about 5 or 6 Weber Smokey Joe’s. My newest addition is a large Big Green Egg.

Have you ever made your own pit, if so, how many and what styles?
That’s too much work. I would rather go and buy one and make it work to how I want it to….

Earliest memory of bbqing– is/was your family involved? My dad was terrible at grilling, as he overcooked everything. So at an early age, I always stepped up to try my hand. Up here is Chicago, we called grilling BBQing. People still call it that up here. My goal is to change everyone’s thinking…

Favorite thing about bbqing? It’s comfort food. It’s also a good release for me to be able to hang with my friends on the circuit that almost feel like family. I guess in a way everyone is all family.

How you found the forum and when (if you can remember)? I found the Forum in 1997 and if people can believe it, I didn’t say a word. I lurked for the first year. Honestly, it scared the hell out of me the knowledge that people had on the Forum. I probably started to get active in 1998.

What was your first pit? ECB… Man were those things terrible…

First thing you remember cooking (doesn’t have to be bbq)? I started at an early age wanting to learn to cook. I think the first thing I made was some pan seared pork chops… Probably around 9 or 10 years old…

Favorite bbq woods, charcoal, rub, sauce, etc? Hickory or apple for wood. I am still a fan of Kingsford charcoal. Rubs that I like are Smokin Guns, Mary’s Gourmet, Head Country and Dizzy Pig… For sauces, I love Blues Hog, Texas Rib Ranger and Mary’s Gourmet Teriyaki/Pineapple marinade.

Favorite/best competition memory (where, when, who with, team name, etc….)? Well obviously winning the Jack Daniel’s will always be my most memorable competition memory. But winning the BarBQlossal with Rod Gray and Steve Farrin will always remain high on my list. I will always credit those 2 for showing me the way. They are class acts.

Scottie Wins GC at Jack
CancerSucksChicago.com receiving GC at the Jack 2006


Do you eat bbq in restaurants– if so, where, when why? I don’t eat BBQ out. I am too critical. Although I do like to go to Uncle Bub’s BBQ restaurant in Westmont. I don’t eat their BBQ but I do like just about everything else that they have on their menu. I cook almost every weekend in the summer, so I am really pickled from eating BBQ. It doesn’t sound or look good to me, when I am in competition mode. My kids love eating it though, so we have to have it a couple of days as leftovers in the summer months…

Favorite record albums, books, TV shows, movie, etc…whatever you want to include. I like just about every kind of music. I can listen to rap to classical. My favorites are the old school blues though. Nothing beats a good John Lee Hooker album.
I enjoy those reality TV shows, as they do not take much to think to watch them. Lately I have been renting movies and I end up not watching them. But if I was to have to choose an all time favorite, it would be Caddy Shack or anything with John Belushi…

Favorite non-BBQ Food to eat and/or cook (or thing you eat most often when not eating bbq)? My girls and I go out for Greek food probably 3 or 4 times a month. I really like ethnic food and living in Chicago, we have a lot of choices. I also love Chicago favorites, of pizza, hot dogs/sausage and of course Italian Beefs.

Favorite beer, favorite beer to drink w/ food? My favorite beer is New Castle Brown Ale. Probably my favorite beer to drink with bbq is Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Favorite BBQForum Thread (can include “what’s an abt?” if you want)?
I like to have fun. Talking smack is one of my favorite things to do. Although I am not very good at it… 😉 Sometimes people take me too serious and they quickly turn in to my least favorite threads. But having fun should be number one. Life is too short to worry about the small stuff.

Least Favorite BBQForum Thread (ditto)? Honestly, it is people wanting to jump on the Forum and expect to be cooking championship BBQ with us giving them all the secrets. I hate that. I do not understand why people will think that we will give up all of our secrets for some stranger? Cook thousands of pounds of meat like some of us have done and find out for yourself. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not think that some newby coming along looking for information is the same. If you hang around long enough on the Forum, you eventually will see the one’s that want to cut all the corners.

Do you have a web site and when did you start and why? My websites are cancersuckschicago.com, corlissfoundation.com and cancersucksbbq.com. They are all linked to the same site though. Gerry “ShoddyHog” Schatte does all the work for me, so my foundation looks good.

Her recipes are the stuff of legend on the forum and she is one of the more genuine and enthusiastic posters and learners around. With her husband, Robert, Keri C.–as she’s known on the forum–has been wading into competition
cooking and judging. They have also been busy giving back to their community by
donating their time and skill to cook for evacuees of Katrina and to organize Senior Q
events. She also doesn’t seem to have any trouble standing toe-to-toe with the ‘big boys.”

Name? Keri Cathey (husband is Robert). Competing occasionally as HOT WIRE BBQ, and judging over a four or five state area.


Where From and/or where do you currently live? Born in small town McAlester OK, living in Broken Arrow OK (a suburb of Tulsa) since 1994.

Married, kids, etc…? Married since 1980 to a very dear man named Robert who proudly wears the title of Towel Boy 1st class (now if I could just teach him what the duties are that go along with the title, I’d be in good shape!) No kids.

Profession (even if not bbq 24/7– if you cater, vend, etc please mention)? CPA, BS in Finance and Computer Information Systems, MBA with emphasis in Business
Systems, Paycheck supplied by doing financial forecasting with electric utility company for the last ten years, after spending fourteen years in public
accounting. I don’t do catering or vending unless you count cooking for friends and neighbors, or contributing to the potluck events of the seniors’ apartment complex where my grandmother
lives. I have those dear folks positively addicted to pulled pork these days. If I had to cook for a living I’d go broke, because I like to give it away too much.

# of pits and what are they? Two well-worn Weber Smoky Mountains, and a Diamond Plate Products
"Fat 50" (31 sq ft of cooking space, purty chrome wheels, and two authentic chrome Peterbilt
stacks. My favorite color is chrome…)

Have you ever made your own pit, if so, how many and what styles? No, but Robert is beginning to contemplate trying his hand at making a Stumps-style cooker.

Earliest memory of bbqing– is/was your family involved? The earliest memory I have of barbecuing is of helping my great-grandfather with a pig-pickin’ in Murrels Inlet, SC. I was about five or six at the time, and Great-Grand-Daddy was in charge of the family pig-roasting for our family
reunion. He and I were quite fond of each other, so I finagled my way into staying up to
"help" him. I got to carry wood and even mop the pig a few times, and felt quite

Favorite thing about bbqing? We just like feeding people. Sitting out in the back yard at 2:00 in the morning, watching the stars, watching the smoke wisp in and around the limbs of the pecan tree, and listening to the coyotes’ serenade is kind of nice, too.

Another couple of favorite things of mine involved in barbecuing are my hand-made BBQ trays, made for me by some of my older South Carolina Hughes
cousins. They make BBQ trays and bowls from the trunks of the centuries-old Tupelo trees that are being unfortunately clear-cut from the marshes of South Carolina where Revolutionary War General Francis
"Swamp Fox" Marion reaked havoc on the British forces. The tray below is a small one – they make them large enough to hold a 200-lb whole hog, and families in the Johnsonville/Hemingway SC area borrow and lend the big ones back and forth for those
occasions. For size comparison, this tray is holding a pulled 9-lb pork butt (across the back side of the tray behind the ribs), a 14 lb packer (you can see the partially sliced flat across the front side of the tray), 4 full slabs of spares, and 6 hot links (part of a feed we did for a couple from Belgium that was touring the US a year or so back).
Keri's Tray

How you found the forum and when (if you can remember)? I appear to have made my first post on the Forum in 2001. I honestly don’t remember how I found
it. I had been absorbing information on the old original BBQ Porch list since it was the Rick Thead list – I started there about 1998 or so, I think, and it seems like I heard mention of it on there.

What was your first pit? Robert and I received a good old-fashioned ECB Brinkman bullet from my grandmother soon after we got married in 1980, upon which he did quite a few tasty turkeys, but we didn’t get much beyond that until later
on. We didn’t know anything about fire control, air flow, or anything like that – we just put charcoal in the base and a turkey on the top, and watched that LOW-IDEAL-HIGH monitor like it was
gospel. And we ate it, whether it turned out decently or not.

First thing you remember cooking (doesn’t have to be bbq)? The very first thing I remember cooking is when I was probably about 4 years
old. My grandmother had given me a lot of her old spices and staples that were out of date and due to be
trashed. I took them all to my grandfather’s old BBQ grill on the patio along with some old pots and spoons, and I proceeded to mix, blend, and create the most delectable treats imaginable in my pretend kitchen (without fire, BTW – she drew the line at that). Around that same time frame I remember catching some small crappie whilst fishing with my grandfather – he quickly cleaned them for me and skewered them onto a sharpened stick, which I then held over a small fire and roasted right there by the
creek. Oh, and my Easy-Bake oven that I got when I was in kindergarten – can’t forget

Favorite bbq woods, charcoal, rub, sauce, etc? As far as wood, we like pecan and apple the
most. And peach, after they’ve been pruning the local peach orchard, as we have access to the trim piles in exchange for a slab or two of

My uncle is a retired "pecan doctor" – a horticulturist specializing in pecans – and has a large pecan grove about 90 miles from
us. Whenever he has a tree that he plans on removing at some point, he ties a big yellow ribbon around it which signifies it as ours, whenever we want to come cut it

Charcoal – Kingsford and Ozark Oak. 

Rubs – Smokin’ Guns Hot, Cimmaron Doc’s out of Grove OK, Head Country out of Ponca City OK, Blues Hog out of Perry MO, various Chris Lilly recipes that I’ve

Favorite sauces – Head Country, Blues Hog and Blues Hog Tennessee Red.

Favorite/best competition memory (where, when, who with, team name, etc….)? Our graduation from enthusiastic observer to a higher level of participation at barbecue competitions happened several years ago all because of Candy Weaver, and I don’t think I’ve ever thanked her for
this. Candy was coming  to compete in Sapulpa OK several years ago, and invited us to come visit during
"social hour". We brought a cheesecake and a couple of six-packs of Shiner to contribute to the evening’s victuals, and little did we know at the time the caliber of those with whom we were
socializing. This is where we first met Merl and Carol Whitebook, Donny and Cindy Teel of Buffalo’s BBQ, Don and Sharon of Smokers Wild, Darcy Hicks of Ring of Fire, Mike and Debbie of Lotta Bull, Phil and Linda of Smokin’ Guns, and other outstanding
teams. I think it was at that same competition that I also got to meet Elizabeth, the 6-ft pet boa of a friend of
Candy's. Tell me – if a 6-ft boa decided that it suddenly wanted to crawl down inside your shirt to stay warm, what would YOU do??? 

Another fond memory of a competition was Steve Marr’s Rocky Mountain cook-off in 2004. Robert and I judged there, and I noticed while we were waiting for the awards ceremony that Steve was just getting started on writing out all those checks and seemed very
harried. I took a wild chance, walked up to the table where he was working, told him I was a CPA, and asked if I could help in any
way. He took me up on it, and I wound up in my own little room off to the side making out the checks while Steve took care of other
matters. I guess that was what started me and Robert in the habit of trying to help out where we could at

Do you eat bbq in restaurants– if so, where, when, why? Very rarely anymore, as we’ve become spoiled BBQ
snobs. Exceptions: Mac’s in Skiatook, OK – he used to compete, and has various 1st and 2nd place plaques on his wall from both the Jack and the
Royal. Nevertheless, an excellent restaurant. "Serious Texas Barbecue" in Durango, CO isn’t bad, either – he’s a Beaumont boy, and does a respectable job at
it. Otherwise, it’s pretty much "Cathey’s Café" for barbecue these days, though we don’t cook that often just for
ourselves. Oh, another one called "Split Rail" near Coweta OK is quite good,
also – don't know the owners yet, but that's just a matter of time. 

Favorite record albums, books, TV shows, movie, etc…whatever you want to include. Well, let’s
see. Robert and I like to do a bit of cross-country motorcycle touring when we have the
opportunity. We have a pair of black Honda Gold Wings – some of the readers have probably seen us show up on them at various comps where we were either judging or supplying strong backs and weak minds to Merl and Carol for whatever use they might have for us at the
time. I’m also into genealogy, and the collection and restoration of vintage fountain

Favorite non-BBQ Food to eat and/or cook (or thing you eat most often when not eating bbq)? Good Thai food – love to eat it, haven’t mastered it at home by any
means. I’m a hardcore cookbook collector, so my focus is pretty wide – I’m not a foo-foo cook,
though. I’m much more of an old country style cook, I suppose. Home-style Italian, country-style Louisiana dishes like etouffees, gumbos, and the
like. Since Robert and I have been on Weight Watchers so long, I’ve learned to take our old favorite recipes and
"skinny" them down so that we can still enjoy a healthier version of our old
favorites. Coq au Vin has rarely been seen in our house – beans, cornbread, and fried ‘taters are still a favorite.

Favorite beer, favorite beer to drink w/ food? Sweet iced tea or lemonade with
food. Shiner Bock or my grandma’s homemade "Country Champagne" on the rare occasion that I drink
beer. Dalwhinnie single malt scotch or Gentleman Jack, either neat or on a single ice cube with a little splash of branch water if I’m imbibing a bit more strongly.

Favorite BBQForum Thread (can include “what’s an abt?” if you want)? Now that’s a hard one to
answer. There have been so many that I’ve enjoyed immensely that I can’t narrow it down to
one. All of the recipe threads, of course, I enjoy. And the ones about what the various individuals on the board do for a
living. And the results reports, of course – it’s great fun to look down the results lists around the country and see so many names of people that we’ve had the honor of meeting over the last few
years. And anything posted by Chez and the Denver Cajun, of course!

Least Favorite BBQForum Thread (ditto)? Moaning and complaining about KCBS
judges. Makes many of us who try to do a good job at judging wonder why we even bother with it
sometimes. (Unless we happen to be competing at a given competition, and then we’re liable to complain about those idiotic tasteless DSJ’s as much as anybody else.)

Do you have a web site and when did you start and why? Starting in about 1996, I had a website dedicated to dog treat
recipes. It was called the "Golden Bone", and I had a large Mastercook text file there that people could download for
free. I received e-mail from all around the world from people who had downloaded the
recipes. Many non-profit organizations used the recipes in the file to create canine cuisine cookbooks to sell to raise money for rescue, spay/neuter programs, fund-raisers to buy bullet-proof vests and protective boots for police dogs, all sorts of great
causes. It disappeared earlier this year when my ISP shut down suddenly, and I just haven’t put it back up
yet. I’ve set up web pages for other people, but I’m just not really inspired to do one for myself.

Saturday 04, November 2006

 Scottie Johnson – 2006 Jack Daniel’s Winner

podcast iconScottie was the winner of the 18th Annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue. The Jack Daniel’s Invitational is one of the most prestigious barbecue competitions in the world. Teams from across the United States and around the world compete in the categories of Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder, Beef Brisket and Chicken.

44:32 minutes

Probably most famous for his big pots of competition Gumbo and his pizzas, Steve is one of the more humble and generous members of the bbqforum. He is always willing to give advice, but is willing to admit that he may not have all the answers.

In his ‘real’ life, he is a Deputy Fire Marshall/Investigator in Colorado– he’s one of those brave and noble people that save lives while we’re all tucked up in our beds. Thanks, Steve. That’s a brave way to pass the time.

 Steve in Denver













Name? Steve Marrs    

Where From and/or where do you currently live? Henderson, Colorado  31 years.  Born and raised in central Illinois 

Married, kids, etc…? One daughter and a 22 month old  grandson – Jameson 

Profession (even if not bbq 24/7– if you cater, vend, etc please mention)? 
Air Force vet, paramedic for 7 years, 29 years as Deputy Fire Marshal/ Investigator.  Spent several summers installing irrigation sprinkler systems and landscaping…that was before BBQ.  I do limited private catering for groups less than 300.  During the week I figure out how fires started, on weekends I try to keep fires burning.

# of pits and what are they?  Primary pit is an FE100 mounted in a 5×8 enclosed trailer. Several kettles, WSM. SNPPs, a ceramic.  Last count was a total of 17.   

Have you ever made your own pit, if so, how many and what styles? 
No, but do have the plans drawn up for a 500 gallon propane tank offset. 

Earliest memory of bbqing– is/was your family involved?  My dad had a brick bbq in the back yard.  It was always special when he fired it up.

Favorite thing about bbqing?  Seeing the pleasure of people eating good bbq.  Meeting and enjoying time with other teams at competitions. 

How you found the forum and when (if you can remember)?  July, 2002.  First time I had heard of competiton bbq, all the result of the application page in the back of the KCBS cookbook.  It’s been all downhill since then. 

What was your first pit?  Brinkman SNPP, made all the mods before I ever fired it the first time.  Did a wedding reception for 60 a month later. 

First thing you remember cooking (doesn’t have to be bbq)? Senior year in high school did a full blown Italian dinner with bread sticks for a class project. 

Favorite bbq woods, charcoal, rub, sauce, etc? 
Cherry, pecan and hickory. 
Duraflame hardwood charcoal. 
Rubs and sauces all come from Forum members.  

Favorite/best competition memory (where, when, who with, team name, etc….)? Frisco – 2002, was my first ever comp.  Osage City with Rick Salmon got my first ribbon (3rd in dessert)  Frisco- 2004, first comp on my own, 6th in ribs, first in pork and 4th overall. 

Do you eat bbq in restaurants– if so, where, when why?  No…sick of eating bbq.

Favorite record albums, books, TV shows, movie, etc…whatever you want to include.  Don’t have time for much TV, haven’t been to a movie in a couple of years. 

Favorite non-BBQ Food to eat and/or cook (or thing you eat most often when not eating bbq)?  Anything that starts or ends with Cajun!

Favorite beer, favorite beer to drink w/ food? 

Favorite BBQForum Thread (can include “what’s an abt?” 
if you want)? 
The ones that are a simple question that get 200 responses. 

Least Favorite BBQForum Thread (ditto)? Egos and flaming…just not needed. 

Do you have a web site and when did you start and why? Yes, but it’s inactive. right now.





Those of you who have seen Darcy’s posts on the bbqforum know that he is a straight shooter that has no trouble speaking his mind. He is also quick-witted and a believer in the hard work school of achieving success. He gives out plenty of good advice and is quick to say that his way may not work for everyone, but trial and error are the key. He’s also willing to put his money where his mouth is and give back to the  community, such as helping to cook for 1,500 evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. Just don’t expect him to give away all of his secrets, grasshopper. 

Name?  Darcy Hicks, Ring of Fire BBQ Cooking Team

Where From and/or where do you currently live?    Cookson, Oklahoma

Married, kids, etc…?  Divorced, no kids.  Currently looking for a wife with garnish skills.

Profession (even if not bbq 24/7– if you cater, vend, etc please mention)? Professional Land Surveyor, 30 years Volunteer Firefighter/Emergency Rescue, Owner of DH Smokin Custom BBQ & Catering

# of pits and what are they?
JR Enterprises 28”x72” stick burner on a 18’ trailer,
Backwoods Fatboy
Cookshack M160
Ok Joes 16” offset
Hasty Bake
A couple of Charbroil Charcoal Kettles
Homemade Stick Burner

Have you ever made your own pit, if so, how many and what styles? Yes, my first pit was homemade, about 25 years ago when I thought I new what I was doing, I had my first pit built, it was mounted on mobile home axles. It was basically a rectangular box. It cooked good enough though. I got my first ribbon ( 5th place ribs ) with it on my second contest.  

Earliest memory of bbqing– is/was your family involved?  My earliest memory of any serious type of bbqing was with my family. About 25 years ago, my family owned a mobile home park and someone came up with idea for a 4th July BBQ. A good friend of mine Duane Boyd, brought his pit and taught me how to use it. I was hooked. He also taught me the intricacies of cowboying, my roping skills resembled that of Billy Crytal’s in the movie “City Slickers”.  Duane also taught me how to make my first rub, it consisted of lemon pepper and seasoned salt. 

Favorite thing about bbqing?  Making it all come together. Combining raw meat, seasonings, marinades, smoke and heat, finishing sauces, bastes etc and producing a finished product that makes people brag about what they’re eating.

How you found the forum and when (if you can remember)?  I found the forum in 1998 when I was searching for information on competition bbq. I found out about KCBS at the same time.

What was your first pit? My first pit was a homemade rig I had the local welder build. It was basically a rectangular box with an enclosed firebox mounted on mobile home axles.

First thing you remember cooking (doesn’t have to be bbq)?   Nachos

Favorite bbq woods, charcoal, rub, sauce, etc?

Favorite bbq woods are: hickory and pecan

Favorite charcoal: Ozark Oak Natural Lump (although I have done well with Kingsford briquets ).

Favorite rub? That’s easy, its DH Smokin’s new “Rock Yer World” Brisket Rub, due out soon.  I have used different sauces from Head Country, Blues Hog and 4 Men & a Pig and others with success with all of them. 

Favorite/best competition memory (where, when, who with, team name, etc….)? Ponca City, Ok, 2003…my first Grand Championship.
2004 American Royal, Boys from Tornado Alley, Grand Champions
2006 American Royal, Habitual Smokers, Grand Champions
Both teams are good friends of mine and if I can’t win I can’t think of anybody else more deserving to win.

Do you eat bbq in restaurants– if so, where, when, why?   Yes, but I limit myself. There are a few joints that I still like to frequent that can please a competition cooker. One of these is my long time favorite, Wild Horse Mountain BBQ in Sallisaw Ok. Another is Macs BBQ in Skiatook Ok. Mike and Debbie still compete.

Favorite record albums, books, TV shows, movie, etc…whatever you want to include. Rolling Stones, David Allan Coe, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Howlin Wolf, John Lee Hooker, BB King & Eric Clapton.

Favorite non-BBQ Food to eat and/or cook (or thing you eat most often when not eating bbq)?  Cajun baby, crawfish ettoufee, shrimp scampi, gumbo, Cajun crab cakes.

Favorite beer, favorite beer to drink w/ food? Shiner Bock

Favorite BBQForum Thread (can include “what’s an abt?” if you want)? Theres been so many… One of my favorites was when someone posted that he had a question but it got cut off and the only thing posted was “I have a questi”. Me being the smartass that I am posted a reply saying that I had a Questi model 250, stainless steel, stickburner / pellet eater combo. From there the thread blossomed with all the other forum regulars chiming in. I think the latest model was the Questi 2500 that burned rocket fuel.

Least Favorite BBQForum Thread (ditto)? That narrows it down to a few thousand.  I guess my least favorite thread is by those cookers that can’t understand why they didn’t win their first contest. Or the same cooks that want all the secrets handed to them without any of the blood sweat and tears involved. It seems to bring out the harsh reality in my answers to them. I’m not very diplomatic or politically correct. I say what’s on my mind and sometimes get flamed for it.  Hard truth…some bbq cooks have fragile egos and don’t want to hear the truth.

Do you have a web site and when did you start and why?
No site




While he doesn’t post often on the bbqforum, people are probably familiar with Patrick’s work at http://www.bbqlogos.com and http://www.hotspotgraphics.com. In the last few years his work has been popping all over the place with bbq teams, restaurants, and businesses all around the USA and the world. His reputation for speedy, friendly service and his ability to ‘get it’ in a hurry makes him a pleasure to work with. (Yes, he did my logo, too…).

Patrick and family

Name?  Patrick Carlson

Where From and/or where do you currently live? Born in Wichita, KS but raised and still live in Valdosta, Georgia

Married, kids, etc…? Wife, Jennifer; twin boys; Alex and Ben

Profession (even if not bbq 24/7– if you cater, vend, etc please mention)? Full time freelance cartoonist.  Work from home office.

# of pits and what are they? Only BBQing I’ve done is from a 10 year old gas grill from Sears….and I usually burn everything that I try to cook.

Do you eat bbq in restaurants– if so, where, when
Sonny’s  BBQ (don’t kill me)

Favorite record albums, books, TV shows, movie,
etc…whatever you want to include.
  Classic rock, any movie except chick-flicks.

Favorite non-BBQ Food to eat and/or cook (or thing you
eat most often when not eating bbq)?
Seafood!  I love seafood!

Favorite beer, favorite beer to drink w/ food?  No beer.  Coffee!  I love coffee!

Do you have a web site and when did you start and why?

www.bbqlogos.com and www.hotspotgraphics.com  I began drawing when I was in middle school.  Been drawing cartoons ever since…on my notebooks in school, on the bulletins in church.  Drew all the time.  Went to college and got a degree in Early Childhood Education (while trying to have my cartoons published – I chose teaching because it was a good, steady job that would allow me the time to work on my cartoons).  After college, I was a youth director in a local church and then moved into public education teaching 5-8 grade (science, math and social studies)  After teaching for almost 6 years (and freelancing with my artwork on the side) I realized I could make, and was making, more money on the side with my artwork than I was teaching.  So, in October, 2004, I quit teaching and began working fulltime at home with my cartoons and illustrations.  Since then, the business has grown.  I’ve done several children’s books, hundreds of shirt designs, mascots, logos, web graphics.

I actually got into BBQ logos by accident.  I did one logo about 3 years ago and then heard nothing for about a year.  Then I got another logo that was referred to me from the first logo.  Then it just snowballed.  People were referring me all over the place.  But it wasn’t until people began listing my logos on the BBQ forum when the BBQ logos exploded.  I’ve done over 500 logos (that count was taken several months ago – I haven’t made a recent accounting of how many I’ve done)  I will say this, the people I’ve met through the BBQ logos have been the nicest, most down-to-earth people I’ve done work for.  I love meeting people from around the country (and the world – I’ve done BBQ logos for people in Germany and the Middle East!).
I just want to thank all the BBQ’ers out there.  Ya’ll have been great to do business with!  Now, if I could just learn how to BBQ!


In the twilight of the sophomore season, the progression has begun.  What progression you ask?  Moving from a green Newbie, to a “Wannabe.”  When I first volunteered to write this Newbie article, many folks commented that even though they’ve cooked for 2, 5, 7 years, they still feel like newbies because they’re always learning something.  I can’t disagree with that statement.  I think each contest cooked, something registers, something is learned.  But someone who has cooked 6 or 10 or 30 contests?  I find it difficult to say that they are still having the Newbie experience.  
What begins to evolve is a “Wannabe”.  What’s that?  Pretty self explanatory, you want to be at the top of the list.  Top 5, reserve grand champs, grand champions, Royal invites, Jack draws all become items on the wish list.  When you start to sum up how many points you have accumulated for the year, regardless of how small that number may be, you have begun making the transition to a Wannabe.  I can only imagine that the Wannabe in each of us gets worse and worse each year…I wannabe in the Jack draw AGAIN, I wannabe a 7 contest winner, I wannabe a top ten team of the year in each category, I wannabe a repeat Jack winner. 
Wannabe’s are driven, constantly setting and striving to attain that next goal.  But with each goal getting loftier and loftier, the falls become a little harder, a little more painful. But the pain is short lived for Wannabes.  They understand how to bounce back, strap on the cookers, and get back at it as soon as they can.    
Wannabe’s don’t consternate for days prior to a contest the way a Newbie does.  They’ve figured out their system of checklists or notes or mental markers to ensure competition stuff is in order.  Wannabe’s don’t make broad changes to their product from contest to contest.  They instead implement changes in calculated sequences, monitoring how the adjustment plays with the judges.  Wannabe’s know average BBQ.  They know pretty much what their turn-in boxes look like before the meat goes in.  They don’t bother to listen to the CD at the cook’s meeting. And Wannabe’s have learned to respect, admire, and be happy for, the accomplishments and successes of fellow Wannabes out there. 
Some of those fellow Wannabes might have evolved their goals a little further than you.  That usually comes with experience and some success.  For whatever reason, you’ve put these folks in a category a bit higher than yourself.  They cook more often, they have had ongoing success, they seem to be unstoppable.  But you’ve shared stories with them.  You’ve gotten to know them.  They’re good people.  They share most everything, food, beverages, stories, and even advice on how to be a better cook.  All of a sudden, you’re cheering for them as they get their awards…again!  And you do so with genuine enthusiasm. 
Some of the Wannabes are folks you consider your equal.  They cook as much as you, cook on similar equipment, are funded like you are, do their homework like you do, win like you do.  There you are again, cheering for them as they get their calls on Saturday.  Better yet is the gratification you get from hearing them cheer for you as you walk up for your ribbon.   
So, enjoy the Newbie experience.  There’s comfort in knowing you’re still going about things with a streak of green.  That streak never really disappears; it just asymptotically merges into experience.   
So to the Wannabes out there who are going to the Royal Invite, the Jack, or are getting all the calls you set out to get…congratulations.  There’s a lot of us who “wannabe” in your shoes. 
Joey Mac

While he has been a race car driver, a fireman, and a restaurateur, Ed Maurin has become best known for the line of pellet-fueled cookers by Cookshack that bear his name. It may be too soon to say they ‘revolutionized’ the bbq world as we know it, but they certainly have been linked to their fair share of Grand Champions in the last few years.

Fast Eddy in the trailer

Name? Ed Maurin a.k.a. “Fast Eddy”. 

Where From and/or where do you currently live? Kansas City, Missouri. 

Married, kids, etc…? I’ve been married for 27 years and have one boy who’s 23. 

Profession (even if not bbq 24/7– if you cater, vend, 
etc please mention)?
Fire Fighter, BBQ Pit mfg. 

# of pits and what are they? FEC500 and FEC100. 

Have you ever made your own pit, if so, how many and 
what styles?
I pretty much have always made my own pits. I did buy a couple of Traeger units that got me interested in changing the type of cooker I build. 

Earliest memory of bbqing– is/was your family 
1986, went cooking with a fellow by the name of Niel Van Hoosier. 

Favorite thing about bbqing? The way you can change peoples lives by showing them this culture we call BBQ. 

How you found the forum and when (if you can 
I believe it was 1996 when I first just looked at it. 

What was your first pit? A 300 Gallon fuel tank with an offset fire box. 

First thing you remember cooking (doesn’t have to be 
Grilled Chicken.

Favorite bbq woods, charcoal, rub, sauce, etc? Hickory Pellets. 

Favorite/best competition memory (where, when, who 
with, team name, etc….)?
Lakeland Pig Festival, many years. 

Do you eat bbq in restaurants– if so, where, when 
I like to try new places all the time, Everywhere I go. 

Favorite record albums, books, TV shows, movie, 
etc…whatever you want to include.
AC/DC any album.

Favorite non-BBQ Food to eat and/or cook (or thing you 
eat most often when not eating bbq)?
Fried chicken and any kind of fish cooked any way. 

Favorite beer, favorite beer to drink w/ food? Not a beer drinker unless I’m drinking fresh beer in Europe. 

Favorite BBQForum Thread (can include “what’s an abt?” 
if you want)?
Is it the cook or the cooker? 

Least Favorite BBQForum Thread (ditto)? Pellet cookers should be illegal. 

Do you have a web site and when did you start and why? http://www.fasteddysbbq.com/  It was 1998 to showcase my pits.

Note: Photo of Fast Eddy from http://www.mojavehotstuff.com 


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