This week we go under the tent with one of the road warriors in the RMBBQA. It is not uncommon for Ryan and the folks with Backdraft to do 20 contests in a year. You can learn more about Backdraft by checking out their website at www.backdraftbbq.com
You call yourself Backdraft BBQ – Did you used to be a firefighter?
No, I have been in the restaurant/bar business for the last 20 years, and that would not have left much time for fire fighting.
How did you come up with that name?
I always loved the movie and wanted my first place to be named Backdraft with a huge sign out front that was engulfed in real flames like on Hell’s Kitchen. I have had the name for only the last 10 years as I was the “Slick Pigs” before that in the Memphis Circuit.The Firefighter theme was only added in the last 3 years as it was the decor for my restaurant. Kind of just props to the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to save lives.
Who is all on your team?
Well, when it comes to Q’n for competitions, I have always been a one person show. My parents live in Illinois, but when they are at a event my father runs my boxes to turn in and my mother has done some parsley boxes for me. Out here in Colorado, I have turned box making over to Lori my son Ethan’s mother and my better half. Box running is a shared duty among Lori, my step daughter Jazmyne and myself. Now we cant forget my little “mini me” Ethan as he is getting Backdraft BBQ some calls in Kids Q as well as a 1st at Winter Q in Apps against the big boys. At vending events Charley (not my dad) and Jonah help with set up, sales and tear down. I am accepting team member applications for anybody that has a lot of free time, has a lot of money and has a nice RV!
What do you like to do when you’re not BBQ’n?
I like to sleep, play golf (played once in the last 3 years), play poker at the casino, ride motorcycles, watch movies at home with my family, make dinner, travel all over (maybe with out a trailer someday), watch football (Go Packers!), bitch about how tired I am and did I mention sleep?
Tell us a little about your equipment what kind of smoker do you use?
I love my Southern Pride SPK500 commercial smoker, I wish it was legal to use in competitions. I have a Southern Pride 200 electric model, again not legal for competitions, just used for catering. I use two ceramic Bayou Classic smokers in Competition this year, kinda like the green egg only a different brand. My old fall back is my 18 year old offset smoker that that my father, brother and I built in the garage right before I cooked on it at a competition in Florida on my 21st birthday. It is being revamped this year with insulation and a new stainless steel jacket. I should have it back in play in time for doing a whole hog in Murphysboro and for the American Royal.
What is your favorite “gadget” item you like to use when BBQing?
Actually my whole trailer, it offers a little comfort away from home. It is not as fancy as I would like down the road, but with AC, heat, TV, DVD and a comfy bed it is alright! Second to that my new Spit Jack injector is pretty cool.
What BBQ accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
Well I should say my GC in Florence last year while flying solo, but I am going to have to go with the back to back “People’s Choice” awards in Parker, CO in 2009 &2010. Being a vending team it means alot that the public thinks your the best. They are the ones that are going to hire you for catering or come to your restaurant.
What BBQ contest is your favorite and why?
I really like the contest in my home town of Murphysboro IL. It was my first contest and I enjoy going back each year to compete against old friends and new ones as well. Mike Mills does a great job running a very crazy contest that is dual sanctioned. So you could do Chicken, Pork Ribs (2 blinds & 1 on site), Pork Shoulder (2 blinds & 1 on site), Brisket and a whole Hog (blind & on site). That is a lot of being judged to get the cards to fall in your favor, but a great challenge.
Do you have any BBQ goals for 2011, if so what are they?
My goals this year were to get maybe one more chip in the bucket for the Jack draw and possibly make it back there since the last time in 1993, but this time as the head cook. I though it would be nice to have my team name among some of the best in the TOY and Power rankings this year and finish out somewhere in the top 100 teams. Also I would like to finish better then 7th in my home town event.
Who or what has influenced how you BBQ the most and how have they influenced you specifically
I am going with Mike Mills and Pat Burke from Apple City BBQ. They got me started and pointed in the right direction and still answer my questions today with out charging me $500 for the info. Man, times have changed in BBQ’n! Secrets used to priceless, now they are worth $500. It is kind of like how free agency evened the playing field in the NFL. Any given Saturday!
What is one thing you learned through the school of hard knocks that wish you knew when you first got started?
Meat prep. I can remember back in the day throwing rub on the meat and cooking it. I don’t even think I used a knife the first year.
What is your favorite BBQ restaurant? What do you like to get there?
Ok, I have to be honest here. I love BBQ, but not eating BBQ. I love cooking it for family, friends and even the public that get a kick out of how good real BBQ tastes. After 20 years of having my head stuck in a smoker to get that natural body and hair aroma thing going on, I am going to have to go with anything Sea food and not smoked. Although grilled is way OK. So I will go with Red Lobster and the grilled Shrimp & Scallops.
If you could only BBQ or eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
Crab Legs and Lobster Tails. Did you know back in the day that lobster used to be fed to the slaves on ships as it was looked upon as being a disgusting bug from the ocean. Then they discovered Butter! Why? because its Crab & Lobster!
Wildcard is there anything you would like the readers to know about you, your team or BBQ in general that was not asked?
My team is my family, other teams are made up of their family and with BBQ we are all one big family helping each other out as needed. I truly thank everybody that got to make it in to Backdraft BBQ in the last days before I closed it, cause I sure as hell ain’t doing that again!