Posts Tagged ‘Canadian BBQ Lady’

My Memphis experience…..

**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.


Rendezvous

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.

Day 1 Travelling to Memphis with Mr. Happypants and Jungle Jims International Market

Day 1

Traveling to Memphis is a bit of an adventure for sure. However I have even more of an adventure on this trip as I am traveling with my Dad aka Mr. Happypants. Dad is letting me drive him to Memphis then he is carrying on to Florida. Don’t get me wrong my Dad is a great guy but he has some definite views on the world. Many of which I tend to disagree with.  He was a cop for 25 years and after then a small business owner. My Dad talks in a certain way that’s well….. lets just say direct.  Its either that or pretty much unnerving dead air silence from him. My brother and I often refer to Dad’s way of talking as the cop talk. Its the “let me ascertain the facts” type of lingo. We have reminded him of this over the years. He gives you this defiant look and we all sort of move on. It just always better to move on. Think Ray Romanos Dad – Frank on Everybody loves Raymond. That’s pretty much my Dad.

 

 

Want to guess which one is my Dad?

 

To my Dad food is just food.  Its either good or bad with no gray. Ask my Dad what flavor profiles he is getting from something and he will look at you like an alien.   Then he will tell you he thinks you are full of nonsense.  He is a straight up salt & pepper, canned peas, cook it till its deader than cement kind of guy.  Burgers, hot dogs, meatloaf  and M&M meat shops kind of guy. NTTIAWWT  Don’t mess around with him on that either. No, just don’t -I have tried on many occasions. 

 

 

Plus don’t even try to get him to buy any other roast other than eye of the round cooked to a limp gray. (Dontcha know its good value look at how lean it is!!) He is also the same guy who tried to buy Walmart’s ready made “BBQ” ribs that you microwave in front of me. He couldn’t figure out why I was a little annoyed.  So that’s pretty much my Dad in a narrow focused sort of way.  He is also a really thoughtful out of the blue kind of guy.  Last year knowing we needed a fridge for the competition trailer he offered to buy it for us as a very early Christmas gift. He is that kind of guy. Gruff on the outside not tolerant of anything, or anyone,  and unfailingly thoughtful at the oddest and most unexpected of times. He also helped me paint some of my house and fix things.

 

 

Prior to getting in his truck to drive I got “the” lectures. I knew they were coming I was prepared. The don’t you dare go a km over the speed limit lecture. The you are not smoking in my truck lecture, the I am not eating at any where fancier that Cracker barrel lecture, the why do you need to buy anything at duty free lecture, the well what time are we getting there lecture, the I don’t want to stop anywhere lecture, the I don’t want to learn how to use a cell phone lecture, the don’t mess with my “golden oldies” radio tuning lecture, the can’t you turn that black butter (My blackberry) thing off lecture, the why do you need so many clothes when I can go away for 2 months and take only this minuscule bag lecture , the well I only need 1 pair of shoes why do you need 3 lecture, and so on and so on.  Dad has become over the last couple of years since my Mom has passed on very, very stuck in his own ways of doing things. (Understatement of the year) Yup that’s my Dad. I love him.Wouldn’t want to trade him for any other Dad either.

 

 

So Mr. Happypants and I set of this morning at 5am. It was -15 in Barrie this morning. Damn. Cold. Loaded up with timmies we crossed through the great white North of Barrie Ontario and headed to the Detroit border. Stopping a couple of times for the inevitable potty breaks we talked about his trip to Florida and my trip to Memphis. My father is as obsessed about Florida as I am about BBQ.   Explaining to my Dad about BBQ competitions is always complicated. He does not understand why I pay to go and stand sometimes in field full of mud praying that my meat will turn out well.  Why I am paying the potty mouth guy (what Dad and my daughter call Myron Mixon) to take his class.  When I inevitably come home from a competition he does not understand why I am beyond thrilled with a Fourth place like I was this past year in Louisa Virginia. He does not understand that beating Tuffy Stone, LeeAnn Whippen and others just once was a thrill for me like no other.  That I did not need a GC to feel awesome. He just  turns to me morosely and says better luck next time. Hopefully you will actually win. Yup thats my Dad.

 

 

 

We stopped for lunch at Cracker barrel. I always have the same meal there. Its always chicken fried steak. Always. I have this artery clogging meal once or twice a year and thats it. Dad tried it for the first time. (It took some convincing) I don’t think he liked it as he ate fries and biscuits and not much of it.

 

 

Along the way I got cut off by an idiot in one of those supped up Honda Civics that remind me of beetles on acid – and I cursed at him. Douche noodle. Yup thats what I called the little twit. (Please make sure to click the link to find out who came up with that most interesting of curses on January 30th its epic) Well let me tell you that lecture was one of the longest. The why don’t you talk more like a lady lecture was combined with the I know we did not raise you to speak like that lecture, which further rolled into the I don’t know whats wrong with you people which he made an even further lamented lecture into the I am sure your Mother would not be proud of you for speaking like that lecture. Trust. It was a long and benevolent (in my opinion) silence that I received after those lectures.

 

We set out for our final destination. Jungle Jims International Market for the day.  I had heard about this most interesting of places from a friend of mine Cam. He has gone back twice. I now understand. This is like a playground for foodies. Truly it was. I could spend days in this place. For my Dad not so much. So we left but not before I managed to grab 7 bottles of wine and some snacks. Ok and also some spices and a few other things. As quick as I could I got out.  I didn’t like to keep Mr. Happypants waiting.  We will be off again early in the AM. We will be staying downtown in Memphis tomorrow night. I will probably need to crack open one or more of those bottles of wine. I am 100% sure I will get a lecture about that :-)

 

Heading to Memphis LOL Hope they are ready for me.

Ill be on the road for the next couple of days travelling to Memphis to attend the NBBQA conference. I had such a good time last year in Austin for the conference . I have been looking forward to this a LOT!! Also will be taking Myron Mixon’s class while I am down there. Should be an interesting trip and I’ll blog about it as much as I can.

New Diva Q Facebook Fan Page- and it works!!

Just wanted to pass along that we now have a working Facebook fan page. Thanks to everyone who let us know the first one did not allow people to join.  Please see the link on the top right of this screen or click here

We really appreciate our fans. This year we plan on running some fun fan contests where you can win some BBQ prizes!!

Interview with Ray Lampe aka Dr. BBQ

Danielle Dimovski Diva Q & Ray Lampe Dr. BBQ Canadian Open 2006

Ray (Dr. BBQ) was one of the first successful American Competition BBQ’ers I ever met. It was 2006 and he was the head judge for the Canadian Open. His BBQ class held in Detroit was the very first one I took. He is an extremely candid person. He never minces words.  He has no regrets about calling people out on things that are not right in his book. In the years since he has done a heck of a lot. He has 5 cookbooks published, taught multiples of classes, and has been on countless TV programs and is easily recognizable to anyone in competitive BBQ.

Who is Dr. BBQ?

Ray Lampe grew up in Chicago and after high school spent 25 years in the family trucking business. In 2000 the trucking business had run its course, and it was time for Ray to do something different. He had been participating in BBQ cook-offs as a hobby since 1982, so he decided to take a leap and try to turn his hobby into a career. In 2000 Ray moved to Lakeland, Florida and began his career as a BBQ man.

I caught up with Ray while he was prepping his gear for this weekends first KCBS competition of the year in Lakeland FLA.  I haven’t had much time to catch up with Ray over the last few years. I have been busy and so has he. It certainly hit home that we need to talk a bit more often as the conversation we had ended up being about 2 and a half hours. It wasn’t so much of an interview as it was just catching up with a friend.

D- So tell me about your new site Firecooker.com

RL-Well I am the resident Pitmaster of Firecooker.com. I want it to be a  comfortable backyard community of grillers and BBQ’ers. I wanted a place to showcase BBQ videos, awesome recipes and a great forum. I think its lots of fun and really informative for anyone out there whether they be a competitive BBQ’er looking for tips or a backyard guy or family that wants to see some great tips. It really is for everyone. Just go on and check it out then upload a video. Its really user friendly.

From the website:

FireCooker is a free service for BBQ and grilling fans. You can use FireCooker to rate and review BBQ and upload your own recipes and videos.  You can also keep track of BBQ you’d like to try and buy as well as subscribe to what your buddies have reviewed. The site was built by BBQ fans for BBQ fans.  Whether you’re grilling or slow-cooking in the backyard, we want FireCooker to be the place where you can learn new grill skills, talk to other backyard chefs and rate their recipes and videos

D- How long have you been a member of KCBS?

RL- I have been a member of KCBS since 1991. I have seen a lot . I know where the bodies are buried. (he chuckles) I was there for a lot of it.

D- You have put out 4 books over the last few years when is the next book coming out?

RL- The next book to come out will be one I did for Williams Sonoma. Ribs Chops Steaks & Wings It will be available in April and is available for pre-order. So now I have done 5 books in 5 years.  I am already working on number 6.

D- Recently you made an announcement that you are no longer the Executive Chef for Southern Hospitality.  Was the split amicable?

RL- Absolutely it was amicable. Originally the plan was to open additional locations of Southern Hospitality. Unfortunately due to the economy this just didn’t end up occurring. As such I want to be able to leave my options open. I know that’s probably selfish but I was not a partner. I would like nothing more than to hear that they are expanding the business in the future. They are great guys. Good people to work with.  I would certainly like to work with them again in the future. I wish them only the very best.

John Markus, Chris Lilly, Ray Lampe Dr. BBQ

D- Would you have liked to be on TLC BBQ Pitmasters?

RL- John Markus is a good friend of mine. We were in negotiations for me to do the show. Unfortunately at the time I was already doing Tailgate Warriors. John had such a tight schedule that I just could not be there for them. We just couldn’t work it out. Its just business. It hurts me not to be on that show. I would have loved to be there with my good friends. I know Myron, Leeann, Tuffy, and Jamie. Myron is a ball-buster for sure ( he says laughing) he is a great business man. Its all good for BBQ.

D- You have had an agent now for about a year. How has that impacted your BBQ career?

RL- The opportunity came from Southern Hospitality. My agent was at IMG and has now moved on to another agency. Have an agent that represents me works well. I fill a niche. There are more opportunities.

Some of the things this BBQ man does:

* He’s an expert judge on the Food Networks “Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri”
* He’s featured on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate”
* He travels the country as the Spokeschef for The Big Green Egg grill and smoker
* He’s the featured BBQ Chef at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia
* He’s a spokesman for The National Pork Board
* He’s judged at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship BBQ Cookoff
* He’s judged at the Terlingua, Texas International Chili Cookoff
* He’s judged at The Best of The West Rib Cookoff in Reno
* He served as Executive Chef at Southern Hospitality BBQ in NY 2008-2009
* He writes the “Ask Dr. BBQ Column” for Fiery Foods & BBQ Magazine
* He’s been a guest chef at the Club Med Food and Wine Festival
* He’s been a guest chef at the Woodford Reserve Distillery

D- Do you have any plans for the Superbowl?

RL- I am doing a corporate Tailgate Party. Ill be working with ribs chicken and all total I will have 4 dishes. I’ll even make a Jack Daniels Pie. Whether I get to see the Superbowl live remains up in the air at this moment. I sure hope I get to.

Thanks to Todd at Plowboys BBQ for the use of this photo

D-What TV Projects are you currently involved in?

RL- Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri is something I have been involved in as an expert judge on the Food Network. I have to say that working with Guy is something. He is a real TV professional. Nothing with him is scripted. I really can’t remember if he ever had to do a retake. He is that good at it.

Also I am featured on Food Networks Best thing I Ever Ate airing this Friday (today January 29) Look for the Meatfest show and me eating a Beef and Sausage Combo in Chicago

  • Ray Lampe: Dr. BBQ – Italian Beef and Sausage Sandwich – Joe Boston’ Italian Beef

    2932 W. Chicago Ave.

    Chicago, IL 60622

    (773) 486-9536

    There are also other great TV programs currently in the works and as they come up Ill let you know

    Dr. BBQ has appeared on:

    * Food Network
    * E! News
    * HGTV
    * The NFL Network
    * The Discovery channel
    * The Outdoor Life Network
    * CNN
    * Daytime Tampa Bay
    * Good Morning Texas
    * The Howard Stern Show
    * Martha Stewart Living on Sirius
    * NASCAR Sirius Radio

D- Will you be appearing on Guy Fieri’s new game show Minute to win it?

Minute to Win It, scheduled to debut on NBC on March 14th 2010, at 8pm, challenges contestants to complete ordinary tasks in ten seconds or less. Each completed task earns money, with a maximum payout of $1,000,000 for ten successful completions.

RL- (Laughing) I have not been asked to .

D- Your classes in the past have also included the Greenbriar. Are there plans to continue teaching BBQ there?

RL-The Greenbriar classes we (Ray, Chris Lilly & Myron) did in the past were excellent.  I would expect them to continue in the future.

D-Whats on your agenda with Big green Egg?

RL- I’ll be in Phoenix for the Eggs in the Desert Eggfest with Big Green Egg.  I’ll be teaching there and hanging out with other eggheads.

D- What competitions do you plan on attending this year?

RL- I would like to get to more but I just can’t anymore. I never have time to practice either. So far this year I will be at Lakeland this weekend, the American Royal, I am trying to get up to New York for the Grilling on the Bay. I will also be attending competitive BBQ’ers first $100,000 event in Little Rock Arkansas, Smoke on the Water. I always knew it would get to $100,000. I am glad I am able to attend the first one.  I am trying to put together a schedule that will also allow me to attend some of the other Nascar BBQ events.

D- Where else will you be this year?

RL- I’ll be at the Houston livestock Finals show and the Dallas Pro Bowl event. Lots of other things and places as well. As the dates come up ill have them put on the website. Its going to be a really fun and interesting year. Check the website often for updates.

D-Whats the best advice you would give to people wanting to get into the business of BBQ?

RL- Just remember this. Have integrity. Don’t screw people over. Don’t back stab. If you say you are going to do something then commit to it. Above all BBQ is business. Just like any other business out there. This one just happens to be BBQ. Its not a mystical magical thing.  You can help people and that’s great however you have to look out for your own business needs.   You have to still meet your commitments.  At the end of the day you have to understand  its a business.

You can find Dr. BBQ on twitter & Facebook

Also you can follow firecooker on twitter .

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