Labor Day Weekend the BBQ community will be headed out to Parker Colorado to compete in the Smokin’ Brew BBQ – Please join us September 2nd-4th. For more info on the contest check out Smokin ‘Brew website http://www.smokinbrewbbq.com. One of the teams competing this weekend will have the distinction of being a hometown team as a result we go under the tent to learn more with Rudy Duran and his BBQ team Los Nerds from Parker Colorado.
You have one of the most memorable names in the RMBBQA – How did you come up with the name Los Nerds? Who is all on your team?
I used to work for a company where I was a UNIX system administrator. My late friend, Dana Nagy and his wife, Wendi, who’s still on my team, and my wife, Andrea, all worked there, too. They were all computer nerds. Most everyone there did some kind of computer job or another.
I used to tease my fellow nerds calling them ‘los nerds’ because of my Hispanic heritage and the fact that a lot of them came from Los Angeles.
Then came along a big Super Bowl pool at work one year and I got three other nerds to buy a square with me. The pool was a $100 a square. For the name in the square I put Los Nerds instead of our four separate names.
In this pool if you won the 3rd quarter you got extra money. Well, dang it if we didn’t win the 3rd quarter and we got a huge payout. So, when I started the BBQ team a few years later, I used the name Los Nerds because it was a lucky name and ‘the rest is history.’
The team photo I’ve included shows my beautiful wife, Andrea (middle left), daughters, Gabbie (blue), Emma, (red), and Olivia (middle right).
From left to right in the back row is Dan, then Wendi, me and then Paul. Wendi’s daughter, Taylor, is next to Emma in the red. Nic, Wendi’s son, is on the lower right.
Mel is second from left to right in the middle row. Mel is Wendi’s mom.
Paul has since moved to Australia for work and Dan is busy being a husband, a father of two young boys and a deacon in his church so he makes occasional appearances at the contests
What do you like to do when you’re not BBQ’n?
I have a 220 vine cold climate vineyard in the Parker area that I’ve been working for the last five years. I’m in the process of expanding and hope to plant 126 more vines in spring, 2012.
I belong to the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology.
The grapes I’m growing are cold climate grapes that were developed by the University of Minnesota. They’re a hybrid of Old World warm weather grapes such as the Cabs and Merlots that make good wines and native American cold hardy grapes that do well in the cold but typically don’t make a good wine.
I hope to eventually have enough wine to sell to the public. I won’t be having a lot of wine but it should be enough to sell to friends and family. That’ll probably take several more years as it takes four years for a vine to mature. My oldest vines are five years old and the youngest ones are one year old.
I’m growing mostly reds and some sweet dessert white wine grapes.
I played blues guitar for years but I’ve given that a rest to devote more time to the BBQ competitions and my vineyard.
I’m, also, a huge soccer fan and can often be seen at Fadó’s Irish Pub in Denver watching the games from Scotland and England. I was ‘watching’ the games from England this morning via live text commentary while I was answering the interview answers.
I used to team rope, I’ve archery hunted, I’ve done photography and even ‘won a prize, man!’ at a student art show for a photo I submitted
Tell us a little about your equipment what kind of smoker do you use? What is your favorite “gadget” item you like to use when BBQing?
I don’t use any gadgets except for thermometers like most everyone else uses. I tried unsuccessfully using a BBQ Guru so now it’s back to cranking the wheel by hand to control the airflow to the firebox. I use a Pitts and Spitts smoker with a side mounted firebox a stick burner. My Dad bought it for me one Father’s Day. I used it at our first competition in Frisco ten years ago. Dana and I used to push or winch that heavy smoker up on a flat bed for each contest. After he passed away I had the wheels removed and had it installed on a flat bed trailer so I could just hook up and be done with it. There was no way I was going to easily be able to get the smoker off and on the flat bed by myself
What BBQ accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
My biggest accomplishment was being awarded the first Big Mike award two years ago. That was quite an honor because there were many other contestants who could have easily won the Big Mike award. It was like winning the Nobel Peace Prize in BBQ. I was thrilled that my BBQ peers thought that much of me to present me with this coveted award in its inaugural year
What BBQ contest is your favorite and why?
I only compete in four contests a year so it’s hard to pick just one. We competed in Frisco, Castle Rock and Dillon. We’ll be in Parker on the Labor Day weekend. Frisco might be considered the favorite because that was our first ‘real’ contest
Do you have any BBQ goals for 2011, if so what are they?
Just to keep having fun and enjoying my family and BBQ friends
Who or what has influenced how you BBQ the most and how have they influenced you specifically?
There hasn’t been any specific ‘who’ or ‘what’ that has influenced me. I do admire the teams that work so hard all year round to make their BBQ better and still have the time to say hello, visit or lend a helping hand if I needed one. If I had to pick one person who’s been influential it’d be Burnin’ Bob because it’s just him and Donna that compete. They compete all season long and win lots of prizes. It’s an inspiration watching Bob go up and receive yet another prize. Have you ever seen him park his big RV? That in itself is a big inspiration. Bob’s one of the smartest guys I know, too … sorry, Steve Marrs
What is one thing you learned through the school of hard knocks that wish you knew when you first got started?
I might have learned more about cooking competition BBQ before I’d actually started competing. I just kind of learned by trial and error as I went along. Logistically I would have been better prepared, i.e. having better knives, better organization in the kitchen, disposable cutting boards, etc.
What is your favorite BBQ restaurant? What do you like to get there?
I don’t usually go to BBQ restaurants but when we were going to them via the BBQ Bucket list two years ago I enjoyed B’z in Colorado Springs. There were several other ones along the Front Range that I liked, too … Rudy’s in the Springs (no relation), M&Ds in Denver, Nordy’s in Ft. Collins to name a few
What is your Favorite Non BBQ restaurant and what do you like to get there?
There is a Mexican restaurant in Parker called Gaudalajara that I like to go to and eat their carne asada. I, also, like Chinese food and hamburgers. I don’t have a particular Chinese restaurant I go to. For hamburgers it’s hard to beat Brad’s hamburgers at B’z in Colorado Springs
If you could only BBQ or eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
I love menudo. It just has a wonderful taste and smell. I love the beef tripe that’s in it. It’s like the ultimate comfort food. I should make an attempt to eat it more often. Guadalajara has menudo for breakfast but I’ve yet to try it out. If I couldn’t have the menudo it’s hard to beat a medium rare grilled ribeye. Man, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it
Wildcard is there anything you would like the readers to know about you, your team or BBQ in general that was not asked?
Over the years my slogan, ‘I hope you win a prize, man!’ has become popular with my fellow contestants. I started telling people that because everyone had been so nice to us when we first started out. People were a little amused by it in the beginning but there are a lot of contestants that use it now. I believe that phrase epitomizes the spirit of what the BBQ competitions should be like. I might get a snicker from the professional BBQers, though J
What kind of would do you use? I like pecan I gives me a pretty good taste but always looking for a better wood
I’ve been using pecan lately. It’s not as overpowering as hickory, in my opinion, but hickory’s still OK.
The only problem I’ve seen with pecan, and maybe that might be true of any wood, is that if I use older, aged pecan it’ll raise the temperature in my smoker. I can’t stop the temperature rise by just closing the air control wheel. I actually have to open the smoker lid to get the temp back down. Eventually I’m able to control the temp.
I usually use newer wood but this last batch I bought was a little older.
I’m still going to keep using pecan but I’ll get some that isn’t real aged.
Take care and “I hope you win a prize, man!”.
Great interview Rudy! I hope you win a prize man!
One of these days I will make it a competition. “I hope you win a prize, man!”
Sorry, make it to a competition.
Thanks, Dan and Sharon.
Dan, it’d be a lot of fun if you could make out one summer for a competition.