Stoking the Fire            

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.

Pit Master            

There’s a long running joke within my closest social circle that I have barbecue sauce for blood, and while that would be a serious medical condition that I should probably have looked at immediately, I’m fairly certain it simply related back to the fact that I have been a pit master for so many years, and have dedicated so much time to the craft that it has literally become a part of me, or I really need to watch my diet, I’m fairly certain it’s the former though. For those of you new to my story, or to finding out who I am, I’m sure that’s a pretty strange introduction to get, and I apologize if I started off by confusing you more than giving you actual viable information.

Digressing a little, and coming back to the meaning of this blog, I am in fact a pit master, and have spent the better part of my adult life in the world working specifically with meats and barbecue. I blame my dad, I started as most in my business do, by spending weekends in the backyard, making food for family and friends. With the exception that my dad was also a competitive barbecue grill master. I got to travel all around the US watching my dad compete, win, lose, in rain, sun and every weather system in between. I worshipped my dad in ways that I’m sure others who were raised by athletes or doctors do, but my dad was a hero in barbecue.

He was literally the one person in the world who taught me everything I know about my craft, and instilled in me the foundation on which I built my own persona, and twist on the craft. Since his passing, I took over the family helm, running the same pits and smokers he did. It’s like we’re still cooking together, as his memory comes back to light every time I fire up the grill. Whether cooking competitively, or for family and friends. And through all the events that I’ve gone through, for all the metric tons of food I have made over the years, nothing is as satisfying as opening the hood and pulling out food to put it on a friends plate, because there’s a connection there that you don’t get with any other form of cooking.

We were raised in the Niagara region, and we used North Eastern barbecuing styles in our family, but I felt I needed to bring our cooking to another level, that I needed to add something to the story book that is our families history, and the mark on the community that we will leave long after our blood line in this business runs out, and decided to relocate my family further south so that I had easier access to an all new barbecuing style. It may have been selfish, but my is one that believes in what we do, that every success I have running a pit crew, is a success for our whole family.