* Picture courtesy of Sean Moffat  Red Valley BBQ

Team Diva Q- Lexi, Ella, Gabe, Vlado, Danielle Dimovski

So the family all 5 of us packed into the truck and cargo trailer with enough equipment and stuff for 3 competitions and we hit the road to Kansas City Missouri. We had the privilege of competing in both the invitational and the open portions of the contests.

We decided due to our little ones to do a large portion of the first leg of the drive at night. We made incredible time and arrived in Kansas about 6 hours ahead of our schedule….

The trip was really uneventful. We even breezed through customs. a first for us for the entire year. We usually allocate at least an hour or so to get through since we always seem to be getting inspected. We never have anything thats contraband but Homeland Security does their job faithfully. We did however get to have a really good donut on the road from a place called Casey’s General Store a chain of convenience stores that carries really darn good donuts. (* I have my BBQ BFF Angie Quaale to thank for my new obsession with donuts she can smell out a good donut from 100 miles away)

We had one issue on the way that caused us considerable pain. Our 6 year old daughter Ella is a Vegetarian with exceptions. Notable she loves bacon and ribs and then all things vegetable. We had picked up a 2 lb bag of green beans.

She decided to eat the entire bag. Lets just say the windows were down for many miles after her indulgence. Ack. Stinky!

One of the best parts of this trip was heading to our good friends Andy and Kim’s house from Smoke on Wheels.  Our kids like hanging out with their kids and staying at their house was a whole lotta fun. Additionally Neil Big Mista Strawder and Shelly Hunt from Desperados BBQ were also hanging at their house. Just saying but a few adult beverages may have been consumed prior to this video.

Andy knows where to get everything you would ever need in the Kansas City area and arriving ahead of schedule we got to drop the trailer off early on Wednesday. Driving in was a thrill and sheesh is this place ever big. The you tube videos I had seen of it in the past in no way give you the magnitude of the location. It is awe inspiring. My backing up the trailer skills are poor on a good day so I can’t imagine having to do it in a field of other trailers already crammed in. Andy ended up backing it in anyways.

I also got a tour around the facility by Andy who has been many times before. Cool to see a lot of the artwork and attractive posters.

Then we were off to a really cool store Ambrosi Brothers Cutlery. I left my knives to be sharpened and picked up another knife, case and covers as well.

We could not be all the way into Kansas and Missouri without stopping at the Kansas City BBQ Store and Eating at Oklahoma Joes. Good places both of them and conveniently for us side by side.

Oklahoma Joes had great food and a sammie called a Z Man Sandwich. Just abut everything was great but we found the pork a bit dry. We were there after the lunch rush though.

On another evening we attended a Pre Royal Party at Knuckleheads. It was once heck of an adventure to get to this place. Its is literally out in the middle of an industrial park directly next to a set of train tracks and one of the best places I have ever been to listen to some awesome music.
The musical guest for the evening was Tab Benoit. He rocked the house and everyone was up dancing carousing and having a great time. Many pops were consumed and we had a blast with many BBQ Brethren, the Smokin Scotsmen’ , Shelley Hunt from Desperados, the British BBQ team, Karen Walker,  my BBQ BFF Angie & Dennis Quaale, and their fab kids Andrew and Kim and a bunch of other people. Here is a video I took the sound bites royally wish my BB had better video capability.

So much excitement and we had not even begun the competition yet. I loved coming in early!!
After Knuckleheads we headed back to Kim and Andy’s house. Andy helped me pick out the ribs from the selection I had that I would use for the next two competitions. I made a decision to use St. Louis spares for both competitions. It had been a while (with the exception of BBQ Pitmasters) since I had used them in competition. Then we all headed to bed and then got up early to head to the site.
Setting up was easy and we had the pleasure to have very nice neighbors on either side of us. #709 three Little Kettles (who provided our kids with an entire play table full of coloring books stickers and more!! they were incredibly kind!) and #705 Pop’s Blazin Smokers (they did gator on the Traeger!!)

I got everything prepped for the Invitational and we went and did some visiting. This was the hardest contest I have ever had to concentrate at. There are so many people you would like to get around to see and visit with and its always a race against the clock to get back in time.
One of our neighbors behind us was Mike & Debbie Davis from Lotta Bull. I tried shigging (at least I admit it) from him but he was too far away. Darn.

Another one of the highlights for me was getting to see my dear friends Roni & Kelly Wertz, Joey McManus, and Chris Jones. We missed Dave Raymond though in our Royal Experience.

So many great people to see……

I took a video walking around a bit.

I even went over to the dark side one night accompanied by a really big strong Texan and a guy from Illinois that can run really fast if needed

Those people on the dark side are certifiably insane. You could not pay me to BBQ on that side. Too many parties people throwing up and a whole lot of debauchery. Not my cup of tea really.
Since we had the kids with us we were really protective of our site space. Noting some previous experiences that friends of mine have also had at the Royal we purchased locks for all of our BBQ’s so they and the meats inside didn’t walk off. We also blocked off the front of our site and our neighbors put up fences so people would stop walking through our site. Once secured it made the experience a whole lot more pleasant.

I had some awesome visitors to our site Jim “Rhino” Reincke was just one of them. He is sooo funny.  I don’t think there is enough net space to list just how much I appreciated each of our visitors. They were all terrific to see!!

We headed out to one of the pot lucks we had been invited to. Sadly you just can’t get around to everything you get invited to. It was the annual Wertz Royal Prime Rib dinner. It was awesome. We brought a peach cobbler and there was so much food and all of it was delicious.

The day of the Invitational dawned and we received a really nice present a box of donuts from our friends Sean and Adriane Moffat. God Bless them both for their kindness!! Sean also took pictures throughout the weekend. We really appreciate that as well. MMMM Red velvet donuts. Yummy!!

Everything for the invitational ran really smoothly until the rib category. The ribs were soft and mushy and I was ticked to say the least. I had been checking them so often I was shocked to see them go so soft so fast. We turned them in but I knew they would not do well. At least the box looked good. Overall in the other categories of brisket, pork, and chicken I was really happy with what we turned in. The brisket was especially good. We had 3 different briskets and all of them turned out the best we had made for the year.

Doing all of the side dishes wiped me right out. Beans, vegetable, dessert and potatoes. Its a lot of turnins for one cook to handle. We got them in just barely in some cases. Most notable the vegetable category which we had mixed up with the bean turn in time. We ended up grilling a vegetable sidedish and turning it in all within 8 minutes. Holy cow batman that was a close one for sure. Please note in future I will read the rules a little more carefully on turn in times.

Mike Mills stopped by and he hung out in our trailer while I was prepping our dessert, It was great to see him again. Such a legend of BBQ glad to be able to call him and Amy our friends. Didn’t even have time to get a picture with him LOL.

Much thanks to Sean Moffat for help with blocking when we were delivering our dessert there were so many people I don’t think we could have done it without him!!

Sean got a nice picture with him in front of our sign

We cleaned ourselves up grabbed a cocktail and headed to the awards.

It was a thrill to hear our team name called for a 6th place in brisket. It was AWESOME!!!!

I was so excited I thought I was going to pass out……
At the end of the awards ceremony we were thrilled to see the results of the pork 30th, chicken 26th, and brisket 6th for a 35th place overall.
I was horrified and embarrassed though to see out ribs had come 4th from last 127th UGH. I knew they were overcooked. Damn. That sucked so bad.
Congratulations to Smokers Wild on the GC and Tippy Canoe BBQ Crew for their RGC!!! Also congratulations to Smoky D’s BBQ for getting a perfect 180 in their pork.

Also congratulations to Mike & Beth Woziak from Quau who won the Kingsford Cup and a check for $25,000!!

Another cool thing I got to see was my friend Jenny Windsor from Black Cat BBQ getting a 6th in ribs then to see her brand spanking new Sisters In Smoke Tattoo!! That makes three of us that have them now!! To all the other ladies of Q you need to get one as well!!

Then you get to do it all over again. You are tired, the awards ceremony has been the thrill of the day and you need to keep focused and go back to the trailer and complete another competition. Its not easy. I only slept 1.25 hours that night, I was behind in prep, making parsley boxes and taking care of the meats. Anyone who thinks competitive BBQ is not a sport should try to do 2 competitions back to back.

Our kids also enjoyed the fireworks before heading off to bed. Sadly we had broken our tent pole when setting up so we had their bedroom set up in a 10×10 easy up with their inflatable couch and mattress. I think they had probably 10 blankets on top of their sleeping bags. They were sure comfy!

Even though I was behind I went for a little walk to clear my head and visit with a few folks as well.  Figured that it would be a good think to relax just a bit before getting serious again.

Dawn came really early and we were all set.

A girl needs a little Canadian Mojo in the AM so crown Royal shots were taken around for anyone who wanted one!

I had to grill some of our Canadian bacon (sweet cured pork loin rolled in cornmeal) we had brought with us to hand out to our friends.

Plus I was in dire need of caffeine so I whipped up a batch of my legendary competition sludge a compilation of 5 shots instant espresso, and super strongly brewed Starbucks coffee with powdered whitener and sugar. It is guaranteed to get your butt in gear.

So much so that when I was walking about Phil from the Brethren made a comment that I could not stay still for a second. It gets you moving for sure….

Back to the grind…..

Brisket was looking great again.

Chicken was looking great! Ribs were good and they had awesome color and texture!

Pork got turned in and we had a whole lot of rejected meat !

Brisket gt turned in and I was really happy with it. Here is the chaos though that was left behind. I had tough time deciding which brisket to turn in.

Sausage came up last and I was sure glad we were done. I can’t remember ever entering a sausage category before so I just made a fatty of some sausage I liked to eat and hoped for the best. 

Once again it was time for the awards and we were wiped and excited all at the same time. My friends the Belly Brothers furnished me with a new favorite cocktail courtesy of team Jamaica its a combination of Appleton Estates Rum and Coconut water. Yummy stuff.

I loaded up my pockets with my good luck charms, an acorn from my daughter Ella, a poker chip with the Pellet Envy logo on it, a rubber chicken and a pig flash light. I was also wearing a cancer awareness Angel Ribbon Pin from Flower of the Flames on behalf of Karen Putnam.

Photo credit Karen Dove BBQ TV

Then we were all off to the awards again- this time over 500 teams were in attendance (participating teams 490)

*My BBQ BFF Angie Quaale from Completely Q-less at the awards

It was again a thrill to hear our name called this time though it was for a 12th place in ribs. I had tears in my eyes accepting this one. I was standing behind Mike Davis and was joking with him -I really think he thought I was going to pass out as well.

I have to admit a few emails during the night and early morning got my confidence back up about ribs after the demoralizing finish in the Invitational. The person who sent them is a good friend and Ill keep their name to myself  but you know who you are. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement it meant a lot to me. I took your advice,  I went back to an old recipe I haven’t used in 2 years with one minor twist I added a new rub. Here is of the rubs I used..

Usually I would not mention what rub I used but this was really special since it was from a dear friend Chris Jones from Colins Creek Barbecue one of my all time favorite BBQ people on the planet.

We joked prior to the awards on how cool it would be if I got a call in ribs. The rub has not been out that long. It really is terrific. You all need to try it.

The awards ceremony was coming to a close and hearing friends names get calls was incredible. We also got a 6th place call in Potatoes. That cracked me right up..I had no idea what to do for the potato category. Our friends Kim and Andy were heading to a difference potluck from the night before and were making their dish Ho De Ho potatoes. Since they were not entering any of the sidedish categories I asked if I could use their recipe. I entered it thinking it was a good dish that everyone like to eat at potlucks. It worked LOL

When it came time for the overall standings I was busy chatting up with our friends. Then the shock of a lifetime came Diva Q came in 10th overall. Oh my flip. I think I blanked out for a minute. What a cool thing to happen.

The awards continued on and 3rd place went to

RGC went to Swine Assassins and the GC went to Lotta Bull for the 4th time!!!

I came away from the Royal with absolutely no prize money at all. I have never been happier….. The trip was expensive for us. It was time consuming exhausting it was a lot of planning and juggling of schedules and at times extremely stressful and fun all at the same time. Seeing our friends and BBQ family plus meeting folks I have only dreamed of meeting plus being with our own family was without a doubt one of the highlights of my BBQ career. I can never thank my friends and family enough for their support their love and unending belief in my obsession that is BBQ. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I can’t wait for next year.

More Pictures from the event can be found on our facebook Diva Q American Royal Album !


Love seeing so many great audition tapes. I know some of these folks and I wish them all the best!!

Smokin Scotsmen!! FEAR THE KILT!!

Fire Fightin’ Cookin Crew !

Kentucky Smoke Squad

Team Unknown BBQ- Seriously funny video

Moe from Ponderosa BBQ~

Tarheel Smokers!!!

Southern Soul Barbecue Harrison Sapp

A Boy and his BBQ!


Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the Ontario Gas BBQ’s Media Day. Ontario Gas BBQ is one of my all time favorite places in the world. They have so much stuff. So many BBQ’s.  I have to show extreme self restraint every time I go. I want to buy everything. They also are the largest BBQ store in the world. Unfortunately the day was cold and wet. Ugh. But the grills never stopped the beer was flowing and the media were all about….

Their BBQ showrooms are incredible. They carry everything you can imagine and more….

So many BBQ’s ……………….

There was a great selection of BBQ Companies there to demo their products and to provide tastings..Traeger’s menu for the day was ABT’s  Grilled Asparagus with a curry aioli, and hot & fiery chili dipping sauce, pulled pork sliders, Bacon Bombs (Ill be posting about those next week!!) and of course a little bit of chocolate heaven. All done on Traeger BBQ’s

Celebrity BBQ & grilling chefs Ted Reader (Teds BBQ World) and Rob Rainford (Food Network- License to Grill) were also on hand making some incredible food (pulled pork and foie gras burgers from Teddy!- so decadent)

Rob looking as stylish as ever and he always has the megawatt smile.

Here is a picture of Ted’s Ass bending over his grill. You can see it is a much smaller ass now. He has lost a lot of weight.

I have no clue what he was looking for here. You never know with Teddy what will happen next.

I got to try some of his new Apple Brown Betty Grilling Sauce (and I forgot to bring my bottle home) it was damn good. Go get some.

For some serious comedy please watch this video of us chatting after the show on Teddy’s weight loss secrets – they are truly inspirational.

Heres a link to some of the media coverage from yesterday.  It was a really fun day !! Thanks to the folks at Eventrix for organizing the entire event.

Global TV April 2010


There is going to be a Season 2 of BBQ Pitmasters!!!

Confirmed with John Markus today : Our new format features FOUR different pitmasters competing in EACH episode. We are looking to augment our cast from last season and welcome all interested cooks to throw their aprons in the ring!!! Great news for all those guys and gals who want to be on the show. Here is how you can apply! Good luck to all those who send in their DVD’s!

For Season 2 BBQ Pitmaster Auditions: tapes/DVDs, under 5 min! Sell us on you/your team! Lindsay Freed c/o Original Media, 38 E. 29th St. 8th FL. NY, NY 10016. Get Goin’!

Or, send a file of your audition to Shoot schedule runs from April 30 – June 26. Send ?’s there as well.


As I am prepping for the 2010 season to begin I have to start with where we really needed to improve from 2009. For the last years season I was really happy with our pork. Everything else needs a lot more work. Especially brisket. I have struggled with brisket. Brisket is my challenge above all challenges. Overall for the year we came in 241 out of 4716 on the Pickled Pig Rankings. I am proud and challenged by those results. Just shy of being in the top 5% overall we came in:

  • 173 out of 4716  Pork
  • 267 out of 4716 Chicken
  • 331 out of 4716 Ribs
  • 580 out of 4716 Brisket

For these rankings we had 6 competitions that were included:

09/26/09 Oinktoberfest – Clarence, NY
08/16/09 Hudson Valley Ribfest – New Paltz, NY
07/18/09 Que and Cruz – Louisa, VA
06/28/09 Boston Hills BBQ Festival – Boston, NY
05/24/09 Roc City Rib Fest – Rochester, NY
03/14/09 Presidential Center Smoke on the Water USA Barbecue Championship – Little Rock, AR

We did however compete in additional competitions for the 2009 as well that were not included in those rankings:

Canada Southern BBQ Championships
Grand Champion

1st — Pork; 2nd — Ribs; 3rd — Brisket; 3rd —Chicken 1st—Anything  But


Smoke on the Water Barbecue Competition Saskatchewan
Reserve Grand Champion

1st — Pork; 2nd — Ribs; 4th — Brisket; 4th—Chicken 1st—Anything But


Canadian Pork BBQ Championships
Reserve Grand Champion

2nd—Chicken; 2nd — Pork; 4th — Brisket; 4th — Ribs


National BBQ Festival “Best of the Best

Invitational BBQ Cook-off
4th Overall

7th — Pork Shoulder; 6th — Chicken;


National BBQ Festival “Best of the Best”

Open BBQ Cook-off

13th Overall

9th — Ribs

BBQ on the Bow Calgary Alberta

4th Overall

1st — Brisket; 3rd — Ribs


Crazy Canuck BBQ Championships Toronto Ontario

4th Overall

3rd—Chicken; 3rd — Pork; 4th — Ribs; 6th — Brisket

Overall we made improvements to our overall BBQ in my opinion. I am hoping to be able to attend more competitions this year however my schedule may have some interesting diversions this year. I can’t share them yet but I am really excited for 2010 overall. I have a lot of practice and work to do. LOL



Well I recently had the opportunity to try Kosmo’s Q Chicken soak. I thought it would be best to do a simple test to see if the Chicken Soak made a substantial difference vs. regular brining. I consistently have been using a brine for turkey or chicken at home and also in competition.


I used 10 lbs of chicken pieces for each test. 10lbs for each application for a total of 20 pounds chicken pieces.


These two plates were for the Kosmo’s test. It was a mixture of chicken thighs legs and wings some with skin and some without.


The ingredients listed on the package are:


Salt, Brown Sugar, Worcestershire Powder, Dextrose, Hydrolyzed Soy & Corn Protein, Citric acid, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor


The package of chicken soak weighed 8.6 oz. Thats .6 oz. more than the listed weight.



In one bucket I used the Kosmo’s Q Chicken Soak 1/2 lb sample mix cost – $4.95 plus shipping- I mixed it according to the directions on the package (doubled for 10 lbs) – Mix 3/4 cup with 64oz (1/2) gallon of liquid. For this test I used plain old tap water for Kosmo’s and the standard brine.





* this was the color of the Kosmos at 5lbs then I added the remaining chicken and soak mix. It mixes up very easily as the particles are very small.


My Standard Brine


In the second bucket I mixed a standard brine I make for Chicken Brown Sugar, Kosher Salt, Peppercorns and All spice berries – cost $2.25 approx for enough brine for 10lbs chicken.



  • Both sets of chicken were left in their mixtures for the recommended 4 hours.
  • They were both rinsed thoroughly afterwards with tap water.
  • They were both then rubbed with my own personal chicken rub.


**The only difference I noticed on the chicken when they came out of the brine was that the Kosmo’s chicken had some very fine red particles that adhered to the chicken. I could not rinse it off. I also could not get a clear picture of it. They were very tiny.


For this test I used my Traeger Texas Style with hickory pellets. The grill was set at 300F. All of the chicken parts were taken to 165F.


All of the pieces looked great. Nice color on both. They were glazed with my own competition sauce.



After the chicken came off I rested it on a plate uncovered for 10 minutes.


Here are two pieces the one on the right is from Kosmo’s and the one on the left is my own standard brine.



Now for the all important taste/tenderness test picture:



Picture of the chicken with standard brine (juices on the plate very moist and tender):



Picture of Kosmo’s Q Chicken(juices on the plate very moist and tender):



Even after an additional 15 minutes both chicken pieces were still tender and moist.




Kosmo’s Q chicken soak works. So does regular brining.


I could not find any discernible difference between the two other than cost and convenience.  There was no taste difference whatsoever. Nothing stood out.  They were both tender and moist.


Personally I’ll be sticking with my own brine.


**Picture Courtesy of 4 Legs up BBQ

I have had the Memphis BBQ experience I was looking for. The NBBQA conference is done for another year but those memories will certainly last a long time. In 4 days I ate lived and breathed BBQ with a few hundred other enthusiasts. However there was a core group of us again that went out on our own to seek out those unique Q & food experiences that are best experienced within a smaller group of friends.

Our group Dave from Sweet baby Rays, Rays Nephew Duce Raymond , Ron Nunes BBQ Organizer,   Kelly & Roni from 4 Legs Up, Chris Jones from Colins Creek Barbecue, Joey McManus from Joey Mac’s Smoke Stax, Tim Clendenning from Windy City Smokers, Woody Steve Wasson & Brenda Grubb from Woody’s Smoke Shack  all set out to experience some authentic Memphis Q and food.  I felt once again blessed to be with such great people.

Cozy Corner

We set out to a place I have been waiting to eat at since I read about it in Peace Love & BBQ – Cozy Corner.   It’s in a less savoury part of Memphis where the  windows of derelict buildings are smashed out everywhere, a bit of desperation has set itself on the people and the poverty is overwhelming.  However when you pull up to this battered restaurant- you are greeted with nothing but pure Love & Sunshine by the owner Desiree.   This woman is a true light within this downtrodden area.  She puts her beliefs  in God on Display throughout the restaurant from the bibles next to the register and the menu board which proclaims they would not accept any tips and thanks God.

When I spoke with her she was warm and lovely readily giving anyone and everyone that walked through the doors a hug a word of encouragement and true sincere expressions of care and concern.  The restaurant itself was a relic in itself. The stained blue Berber carpet, missing ceiling tiles and flimsy wall panelling really does the place no justice.  However you don’t need decor to have great BBQ. I have seen this time and time again. Cozy Corner is one of those places.

**Photo courtesy of 4 Legs Up BBQ

We decided as we usually have in the past to get one of everything on the menu.  This is really easy when you are traveling with a pack of 11.  When we received the tray I was shocked to see the huge amounts of sauce on the Cornish hen, the ribs and the pork in addition to the smoked bologna sandwich.  I am not a big fan of sauce and this looked as coated as an oil slick.

Photo courtesy of 4 Legs Up BBQ

Everything at this place was wonderful. The hen was tender sweet tangy and spicy- I savoured the tiny little drum stick I had then the breast meat – intensely flavoured and spicier than the rest. My rib was perfectly cooked coming off the bone with just an easy tug of teeth once again surprisingly not overwhelmed by the sauce. The bologna cut into almost an inch thick slab was a throwback to my childhood. It was layered with sauce and coleslaw on a typical hamburger bun. It was awesome. The coleslaw and sauce really added to the overall flavour of the bologna sandwich.  I could imagine coming here with my children just for that Sammie alone.

Photo courtesy of 4 Legs Up BBQ

Everyone that serves you or interacts with you in this iconic place-smiles. They thank you profusely. It is a wonderful experience to feel appreciated. They get it here. You can certainly understand why they are still there. It is perfect with all of its “imperfections”  Most of all what makes it perfect is the combination of Desiree’s continuance of this wonderful BBQ joint and the warm fuzzy feeling you leave with  it.


We stopped at Rendezvous in the downtown core as well. It’s down an alley way near the Peabody in the same location it has been in for -well forever it seems. In 1948, Charlie Vergos cleaned out a basement below his diner, discovered a coal chute, and started a legend.  Charlie’s kids run things now, and their kids are coming along, and their kids will follow.

The alley is full of dumpsters, trash and the smell of charcoal. Seedy would be one way to describe it. However as you stand there you see people from all walks of life heading into Rendezvous:  Ladies dressed to the nines with their Manolo Blahnik boots and Louis Vuitton purses, men in their sharp Ralph Lauren suits  and Brooks Brothers, everyday people in their Nikes and hoodies attire all carefully treading around the dumpsters to get to this place.  Not only people walking in but there is a constant flurry of vehicles driving up and dropping people off.

Now imagine yourself walking into an antique store jumbled full of treasures and timeless classics, full glass showcases containing lots of kitschy fun stuff. The floor is mottled and cracked there are people everywhere sitting at tables eating BBQ. Then take a walk to one of their antiquated back rooms full of signs and pictures from all over the world and you know you have arrived at Rendezvous.

Our party once again tried everything we could possibly partake in on the menu while still allowing us to remain upright without going into a protein coma.  We ordered a sample platter of all of their meats plus a couple of sides. However before I go into more detail on this I will have to tell you about my most favorite part about Rendezvous and that would be our server. To call him a server seems a bit of a disservice he is a Legend here at Rendezvous himself. Big Jack Dyson is a flurry of Southern comebacks and full on court press hospitality. He will have you laughing and feeling comfy in an instant. He has been at Rendezvous since 1969.  They don’t have a lot of staff turnover issues at Rendezvous.

Photo courtesy of 4 Legs Up BBQ

Big Jack brought us out some of their gumbo to try on the house. It was an interesting medley of flavours for sure. He also brought us some lamb ribs that were gamier than most I have tried. These were not what I was used to but it was just fine. The food overall at Rendezvous is not something I would go back for to be honest. I didn’t like their ribs or the pulled pork at all.  I was really looking forward to some dry ribs but these were not it. They were just not my thing. I don’t think many in our party liked them at all.  I don’t think you go to Rendezvous for the food. You go for the experience. I would go again for the experience. It should not be missed. The ambiance and the cold beer were a great combo. However next time I think I would just stick with their ham & cheese plate.

Pig on Beale-Pork with an Attitude

From their website:

With the 1950s decor of checkerboard floors, formica tables and vintage movie posters mixes with live rockabilly, honky tonk or bluegrass music, a down-home happenin’ hoopla should come as no surprise. The Pig on Beale’s jukebox could easily be the best on Beale Street, with an eclectic mix of Memphis

music like the older Furry Lewis and Elvis to the Delta Blues of the Eric Hughes Band. The bar hosts live Blues and Americana music Thursday through Sunday from area Americana bands.

What they don’t tell you on their homepage (they do in the about section though) is that their food rocks. I mean rocks out like being at the best concert of your life with the love of your life.. For me sharing their food with some incredibly dear BBQ people was an event I will cherish.

The food is top notch. Once again I have found competition quality BBQ at a restaurant. There are only 3 BBQ joints (Pig on Beale, Bub-Ba-Q, Q Restaurant) I have been to that I would be happy to serve their food in a turn in box and be proud to call it my own. From the creaminess of their potato salad to the wickedly good onion rings to the hickory kissed ribs and pulled pork perfection, great wings and the tender chicken the Beale Street BBQ super feast is awesome.  Even that description doesn’t seem good enough to me.

What impressed me even more is that we were there during the down times. Not even close to lunch or dinner but right in between. Having top quality food at an off time is impressive. It was quiet when we were there with only 1 or 2 other patrons. They have most obviously taken great care to ensure what they serve is their very best at all times. Our server was great too. Very polite to all of us making sure we were well attended to.

Later on at the convention I ran into John the owner. Now John stands heads above me and he is a solid young man. Think the Stone Cold Steve Austin version of BBQ and you have a good picture of what he looks like. John actually owns both Pig on Beale and natural Born Grillers. They compete as well. Actually they win a LOT too with many of their impressive trophies in the windows of Pig On Beale. Their website lists their many competition accolades.  I was sorry we didn’t have the time to make it out to their Southaven location.

My advice to anyone would be that going to Memphis and not eating BBQ at Pig on Beale would be akin to missing your first Anniversary, your kids birth or your own wedding – it’s just something that should never ever be missed.  It was that good.

Gus’s Fried Chicken

Now off to another joint we went just down a few blocks and around a corner. This was the second time in three days that I had eaten there. That should pretty much tell you something right there. I had extolled the virtues of Gus’s fried chicken to our group and we all decided to give it a go.

We had the deep fried pickled fried green tomatoes and a whole lotta chicken and fries. Once again it did not disappoint.  Lip smacking finger licking can I get another piece even if I have just eaten at 3 other BBQQ joints chicken kind of food. I think to tell an outstanding place from a good one it is just this when you are so stuffed you can barely move but all you want to do is eat more you know you are in a place of greatness. I think that applies to both BBQ and chicken.

Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ

On the day I was leaving my friends Chris Jones and Tim Clendenning all headed to the airport together.  As we wandered around waiting for our flight we decided to have breakfast. Well of course that would mean having more BBQ. You just can’t ever get enough. So we headed to Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que.  This was about 830am.

Gotta love Memphis where you can get BBQ at any time of the day or night. We ordered up BBQ Nachos, Pulled pork and BBQ Bologna. It was all great. Just really good decent BBQ that had good flavour, good texture, and nice sauce. The BBQ Bologna had a great char on it as well that was yummy.

The Pulled Pork Sammie had to have at least a ½ lb of pork on it. Extremely generous. We did also get the BBQ spaghetti I will say this it’s not my thing. Just no. Just not going to ever order BBQ spaghetti again. Overall the food was really good. We even got to talk with Harold Neely. He wanted to pick up our check but Chris had already paid. Good people to talk with for sure. If you are in the Memphis airport stop by and eat. You will not be disappointed.

Well I could go on and tell you some really juicy stories about Myron ”Damn” Mixon, or some of the other folks fables and tall tales or even my own new associations with some fine folks but I think I will take a lot of those stores and keep them to myself. While in Memphis I walked by a poster and it said this: What happens in Vegas started in Memphis.   I tend to agree with this sentiment. For the days I was there I was educated, libated and satiated with BBQ and food. We will leave it at that.

However as I end this rather long winded (and really if you have read the blog at any time you will know I tend to be a wee bit long winded) I have to tell you a story about our trip to Gus’s and this goes towards the kindness and the type of people I am real proud to associate with. As we were walking in Memphis within our tight knit little group a homeless man approached my friends and asked for money. He ended up being invited to eat with us. None of us would ever like to see anyone go hungry. None of us would have wanted for this man to go without something to eat. So we had our meal with this man who was quite articulate and certainly added a deeper meaning to our meal. That is the breaking of bread with your fellow man is always a good thing. That we should always look out for each other.   That we should take care of each other.  That food whether it be BBQ in Memphis a hot dog in New York  or even poutine in Toronto has the capacity to bring us all together.  That is my Memphis story.

** A note of thanks to Kelly & Roni Wertz from 4 Legs up BBQ for some of the excellent pictures of the Memphis adventure.