This week we go Under the Tent with Mark Shook of Peace Pit BBQ – Mark is married to Susan and they have 2 daughters Destiny (10) and Mary Jo (7)
What do you like to do when your not BBQ’n?
When are we not BBQ’n? It seems like when we are not BBQ’n, we are talking about, thinking about or practicing BBQ’n. But, as a family, we love to camp in the Rocky
Mountains in the summer and fall. We usually camp up the Poudre Canyon because it’sclose. We also love to spend time in the garden especially in the spring after
being cooped up all winter. We’re going to try to grow enough parsley to use at the comps this year. We turned our front yard into an “urban garden” by removing all of the grass and tilling the dirt for garden space. I personally love to cook many different types of food. I came from a Southwestern influenced
background. I was trained by a chef who was trained by Mark Miller at the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe. I also make a lot of Paella and Italian. We try to use
as many local (read garden) fresh ingredients as we can. I feel that the best dishes usually have 5 ingredients or less. I like to let the food speak for itself. We love to entertain and have a glass of wine with friends who stop by on the weekends. I got hooked on competitive cooking when I entered the Greeley Independence Day Stampede Chile Cook-off and took first place out of over 100 entries. I cooked what I call Chile Colorado with chipotles and fire roasted poblano peppers.
Tell us a little abot your equipment – What do you have and what do you like to use when your smokin’? Also what is your favorite “gadget” item?
This is kind of a touchy subject at our house as I have about 9 grills and smokers. Last year I competed in 9 events using 7 different smokers. We
have 2 Weber Performers, one with a Cajun Bandit water smoker attachment and a rib-o-later. 22.5 Weber WSM, homemade triple barrel smoker, homemade pellet smoker (FEC clone), Weber Ranch Kettle, Kingfisher back yard with rotisserie, 2 Sam’s club event grills, and a 4′ Woodstone Wood-fired pizza oven mounted in a trailer. My favorite gadget has to be my pizza oven. It is the only piece of equipment I own that exceeded my expectations since purchasing. That oven is so versatile that I can cook just about anything on it. It’s a heck of a chicken cooker too.
What BBQ accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
We are proud of each and every call out that we have had. Our first call was for 9th place ribs, in Canon City, Johnny Trigg was 10th! Our best overall comp. was at Loveland Love’s BBQ 2010. We got a first place brisket, 8th place overall and won peoples choice in ribs. That was a special day. Our hardest fought accomplishment was our last call, 5th place chicken, oh the poor yard birds eaten in the name of bite-through skin!
What BBQ contest is your favorite and why?
That’s a tough call. We loved the excitement at Frisco and the calmness at Laramie. Laramie was nice because everything was so mellow and the organizers were so nice (driving us around in golf carts), but our favorite had to be Florence. Nice grassy park, great weather, last comp of the season for us, the mood was wonderful and so were the people. We had a little too much fun that night and didn’t do very well at the comp but it didn’t matter!
Do you have have any BBQ goals for 2011, If so what are they?
The Jack baby the Jack!
Who or what has influenced you the most how you BBQ and how have they influenced you specifically?
I’m from Colorado and thought until a couple of years ago that BBQ was grilled food on a propane cooker. One day while looking for a new grill I was on-line and saw the BBQweb.com As soon as I saw indirect cooking on a charcoal grill, I realized the potential for slow cooking large cuts of meat. That got me started BBQ’n. Since then so many of the RMBBQA members have mentored me. Steve Marrs, all around help with competition, Laura Jay, trimming ribs, Michael StCyr, 2 ears one mouth, Beth and Mark Lenz, chicken trimming, the Dougs, top secret information, Guys with Hard Wood, how to anchor an ez-up in 40mph winds. Everyone I have met with the RMBBQA has been wonderful and helpful. I am thankful for learning from such a great bunch of people.
What is one thing you learned through the school of hard knocks that you wish you knew when you got started?
The one thing I learned through the school of hard knocks is bite-through chicken skin. We came in DAL in last year’s Rocky Mountain Cup chicken category. We just couldn’t get a call in chicken to save our lives. We worked so hard on flavors and to get it cooked properly but the skin was always rubbery. I was so thankful this year at our first comp in Loveland to get a 5th place chicken call. I think there were some events last year that we would have placed in the top 10 had we known how to do chicken.
What is your favorite BBQ Restaurant? What do you like to get there?
We rarely go out to eat at BBQ restaurants. We make it so much at home that the last thing we want to do is go and pay for BBQ. Susan loves catfish so if we do go out it would have to be at Nordy’s in Loveland for catfish.
If you could BBQ and eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
IfI could only eat one thing for the rest of my life it would have to be Pizza. It is so versatile you can put any topping on it. You can make a pizza be anything you want it to be, from seafood to dessert. The crust is the key to a good pizza and it takes just as much practice to make a good pizza as it does to make good BBQ.
Wildcard – Is there anything you would like the readers to learn about you, your team or BBQ in general that was not asked?
This year we are starting up our catering and vending business. We did a little vending last year but just to help off-set the expense of comps. Over
the last year or so I built a concession trailer that has a Wood-fired pizza oven on it and we are going to be selling pizza’s and BBQ in Frisco and Loveland. It should be interesting cooking pizza in Frisco for thousands of people but we have a good mentor. Antonio Laudisio, owner of Laudisio’s and the Med in Boulder is going to be working with us and teaching us the ropes. He is a pizza master cooking pizza in wood-fired ovens for more than 30 years. We will be focusing mostly on catering and will be parked around the Greeley
area trying to make some money this summer. It should be exciting and we can’t wait to get started. We love to put our competition style BBQ on
top of a home made hand stretched pizza dough and cook it at 800 degrees. BBQ is better on a crust!