Though we moved down into Kentucky, I still order all my wood from Niagara, hence the name of this blog. It was the wood that my father cooked on, and his father before him. It is the foundation of everything we cook, and something that has become synonymous with our style of cooking, and therefore I don’t mess with it. Ask anyone in the industry and they will tell you that the fuel source you use plays one of the biggest influences in the end result of your product, and for us, the trees around where our family grew up simply has a taste of home that we never want to be without.
No matter where I go in this country, it’s also something that keeps me tied to home. When I hold a piece of smoking wood in my hands, I am feeling a part of my home, my roots. It may sound odd to someone who’s not in the lifestyle, but it’s hugely important to me. There is no smell like that of our wood choice, and I would know it anywhere. But, allow me to get back to telling the tale of our progression.
So we moved down to Kentucky, where I quickly got a job working in roofing, which is my field, and I am fortunate to have found a great company to work for that knows what I do with competing, and allows me the freedom to do both with the same amount of intensity, which I am ever thankful for, and the reason why I will never leave that company. On the circuit you get to meet a lot of other grill masters across the country, and there was a few that I knew in the Louisville area, another reason why we choose this area to go to. Once I was established in the area, I reached out to them.
The main point of extending communication was to learn off of them, which can be a tricky thing, you need to get past their suspicion as most family recipes are highly guarded secrets. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t on some spy mission to get their recipes, because I’m a horrible liar and they would have been able to see through it in no time. I simply approached them and asked about the fundamentals, how things were done at the foundation, so that I could expand on my own, as each of them had.
I was fortunate to get an old timer of the industry to kind of take me under his wing, and provide me with the information I needed. We spent many weekends cooking for our respective families, so I could see his personal work, and I could practice in this new style of cooking that was different from my own. It was a great period of time, and I was fortunate enough to cook with him for a few years before he sadly passed, but he left behind the skills I needed, and I am forever thankful.