This month we go under the tent with Ryan McBreen fom 2 Lil’ Macs. 2LM is last years RMBBQA rookie of the year team and Jack Qualifier from Wyoming.
What do you like to do when you’re not BBQ’n?
Spending time with my family. I have the greatest wife (Jayme) in the world that I have been married to for going on 7 years this May. We have two perfect kids Bryson (4) and Kayleigh (16 mos), for whom we came up with the 2 Lil’ Mac’s name. Together we enjoy being outside, camping, and generally having fun. We try to do everything together, and they come to all of the bbq events no matter where they are. I also love to hunt, shoot, and golf. All the above combined with bbqing, make for a summer with nary a free weekend.
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 have a Louisiana Pellet Cooker that my wife got me 2 years ago for my 30th birthday and a Big Green Egg that my wife got me for our first anniversary, almost 6 years ago. Did I mention I have the best wife in the world? It’s a little tight as far as room goes but we make it work during the competitions. They both have been really great to use and am as happy as can be with them. My favorite gadget when competing is my dad, 2LM couldn’t go without him. But techie-wise my favorite gadget has to be my BBQ Guru, it’s a little computer that stokes the fire in the big green egg and holds temps perfectly. The Egg doesn’t need much help but its insurance against the unforeseen and it makes starting it much easier.
Last year, your rookie year, You accomplished what takes some folks years to accomplish. Were you surprised by 2 Lil Macs success?
I was totally surprised by our success. It truly struck like a bolt of lightning, we entered our first competition in Durango not expecting much, just wanting to feel out the competition bbq thing, have fun and take it from there. We did well there (5th overall and 3 calls) and then we got our first GC in Laramie 2 weeks later. It was unexpected and surreal. I’d like to think it was more than luck and had a lot to do with all the prep and practice we did leading up to competition time. We also received lots of assistance from people like Steve Marrs, Mike Bratton, Kevin Feit & others I’m surely not giving due credit too. Only time will tell if we are a flash in the pan or a serious competitor, that’s why we are excited to get back out and compete.
What BBQ accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
You know I am excited for all the awards we won last year, especially the walk at the Jack, but I’m not sure we have any great accomplishments yet. I consider an accomplishment something great and very difficult to obtain. This past year I learned about the Big Mike award, I didn’t have the good fortune to know Big Mike but I quickly learned the world is worse off now that he is no longer a part of it. The RMBBQA created an award in his honor and for people to get recognized for this type of award I view as a true accomplishment. What people like Denny Mildenberger and Rudy (among many others) do for the people and world of barbecue is an accomplishment, they do it because of the people they are not the food they cook. To be thought in the same breath as people like that is an accomplishment.
What BBQ contest is your favorite and why?
That’s a tough one, we didn’t compete a lot in our first year, we planned on only doing a couple to get our feet wet. We competed in 3 local events (Durango, Laramie, Parker) and two national (the Royal and the Jack). Locally, I would have to say that Laramie was my favorite, probably because that was our first GC, we had a grassy spot under some trees, the weather was as perfect, it was like camping, but Durango (sorry to see it go) and Parker were a ton of fun too. Nationally, the Jack, was the Jack. It was cool being in beautiful TN, a place I had never been before, and going to such a prestigious event, seeing the biggest names in BBQ and knowing for two days we were on the same level playing field. We tried to soak it all in, as there are no guarantees that will we will ever make it again. The Royal itself was a great experience too, we competed in the invitational and open so we had back-to-back cooks over a 3 day period. It was fun and intense. Between the cooking, the parties going on all around and all the people around non-stop, it was like going to Vegas, after a few days you have had enough and it’s time to go home.
Do you have any BBQ goals for 2011, if so what are they?
You know I think anyone that competes wants to win and in that regard we are no different. We would like to continue the winning ways we experienced last year and build on it this year. I feel like we need to prove, mostly to myself, that last year’s successes weren’t a fluke and that we truly are good at what we do. While I would love to win GC(s) again and go to the Jack and Royal again, I’m not going to measure our year based on that. Was it fun for not just me but our team and the family that we tote along? If it stops being fun and becomes work, that’s when we will call it quits and go back to being backyard warriors.
Who or what has influenced how you BBQ the most and how have they influenced you specifically?
My wife has been super supportive of this hobby-gone-wild, and has been there every step of the way to encourage me make this bbq thing a reality. My family, not just the wife and kids, but my mom, dad and sister, and Jayme’s mom and dad, have been there for support and truly make this a family ordeal. Without all of them, 2 Lil’ Mac’s BBQ wouldn’t be around. As far as bbq influence I would have to say KT’s bbq restaurant in Broomfield influenced me the most. KT’s started my love for bbq, they had these grilling 101 and smoking 201 classes, where for 2 hours you drank beer, watched them cook Q and then ate what they cooked. The little cookbook they gave me was my start and still is my go to recipe for the ribs I cook at home. It was after that first class I cooked my first pork butt on my cheap gas grill (two settings: high and off), after 16 hours and two tanks of propane I was hooked. Since then I have been a voracious reader of bbq cookbooks and other cookbooks in general trying to glean any information that could be used to make my food that much better.
What is one thing you learned through the school of hard knocks that wish you knew when you first got started?
I think the best thing to learn was to be organized, know what you are cooking, how its cooks and how your cooker works. Its chaos starting just before turn-ins and if you aren’t prepared you will struggle and the experience will be miserable. But also know, no matter how organized you are, there will be hiccups, you gotta roll with the punches and adjust on the fly. Also, learn from every event, if you don’t take something away from every event, cook, and turn-in, you won’t improve.
What is your favorite BBQ restaurant? What do you like to get there?
That’s a tough one, I am not a bbq snob by any means, I will eat any and all bbq. Locally, my favorite, both tastewise and as a sentimental favorite, is KT’s BBQ in Broomfield (as mentioned above) At KT’s I usually get the Mike’s Sandwich basket, a big ol’ pork sandwich with a side of killer beans and red skinned mashers, all so good, smothered with their Tricia’s Texas BBQ Sauce. (My mouth is watering as I type this.) If I’m really hungry I will add half a spicy hot link to the side. I also like their ribs, meaty st louis style with a dry rub, they way I like it. I also enjoy Big Hoss, Moe’s, and Yazoo, but like I said I will eat any all Q (except maybe the McRib). Outside of Colorado I was lucky enough to have a little sister that lived in KC for a couple of years so I got to go to the mecca of bbq (sorry Memphis and Carolina fans). I love the beef ribs at Jack Stack and just going to the original Arthur Bryants is as cool as it gets.
If you could only BBQ and eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
Easy! Pork butt/shoulder, the greatest, tastiest cut of meat. I could eat a pile of chopped pork on a white hamburger bun adorned with chopped white onion and a couple slices of pickle with a little vinegar bbq sauce for every meal 3 times a day. Throw in some salty potato chips and an ice cold beer and I am in hog heaven.
Wildcard is there anything you would like the readers to know about you, your team or BBQ in general that was not asked?
Umm.. let’s see, here’s a couple tidbits, Tidbit 1: the 2 Lil’ Mac’s name was a stand-in until we could figure out a real name. We were struggling for months to find a good name, but couldn’t so we just threw a name down for the Durango event since we had to get the application in. We figured we would just change it later, but after Durango and then Laramie, it had to stay. Tidbit 2: I personally can’t stand the bbq we cook for competition, it is the antithesis of what I like in bbq. I taste test at competitions to ensure quality but otherwise I stay away from it. Good thing the rest of the 2LM crew enjoys the finished product. Tidbit 3: I’m a huge CU Buffs fan, so our 2LM colors are black and gold, and we even have a buffalo into our logo.