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Some people like to golf.  Others like to play tennis.  I find my passion in smoking meats – specifically what would be considered traditional American BBQ – ribs, chicken, brisket, and pork shoulder.  Having grown up in Memphis and with much of my family still there, the passion for BBQ was instilled at an early age.  It seemed as if every street corner had a BBQ joint, much like the Starbucks and McDonalds of today.  I honestly thought all houses came with a smoker until I grew up and began to travel outside of my little bubble.

Over the years, even as the demands of life began to increase, I always found time to get outside, fire up the smoker and have a moment of zen during a great smoke session – relaxing and rewarding in so many ways.  I’ve learned to embrace the challenge of smoking even during the worst of Minnesota winters.  There is just something therapeutic about the “low and slow” process – it teaches me patience and it’s not a skill that is ever completely mastered – it allows my inquisitive mind to experiment and tinker and grow.

Recently, in an attempt to push this hobby into new boundaries, I have begun competing and judging in Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) contests.  This gives me the chance to compete against others, and more importantly, I get a chance to meet great, friendly people who are as nerdy about the topic as I am.  At the end of the day, half the fun is debating about such important topics as what town has the best barbecue, what style of smoker produces the best results, which wood is best used with which meat, and the list goes on and on.  It was through meeting others at these contests that I had the chance to go back to my hometown of Memphis and compete on a team in the Memphis in May World BBQ Championships along with 100 other teams from around the world.  Yes, we had pretty good finishes in both brisket and ribs, but nothing tops the wonderful people I met, the awesome discussions I had, and the knowledge gained that I am indeed part of a much larger BBQ Family.