Not quite sure where to begin and where to end this post. Good Gracious what a ride though.

Friday was a busy prep day on site. We all worked on our entries for the categories of Dessert, Taste of the Homeland and the 4 main categories, Chicken Ribs Pork and Brisket. I got a bit behind as I was prepping my pork and we missed the parade for the teams.  No worries though as we walked with the uber talented ISS (I Smell Smoke!) up to the distillery.  The bus ride up to the Dinner on the Hill was uneventful but completely packed with people.  Got to see some friends, have some fried chicken and come right back down.  I wasn’t interested in having any cocktails on the hill.

Friday night at the Jack I was as focused as I could have been, however, I still got to see some really great friends as they popped by for some “pops” and a chat or two :

Our friends Bill Gillespie, Shaune Connolly and Alan Burke from Smokin’ Hoggz came by and we had a blast with them. The night previous we had been having a lot of fun at the hotel. There may have been some cocktails involved. Then some other folks showed up from Michigan (Steve Coddrington) and NY folks Moffats and  our great friends from England !! Miss Piggy BBQ !!! Got to see our beloved friends Smoke on Wheels and their entire gang as well. Got to see my sisters in Smoke  – Angie Quaale and Jenny Lawler Windsor and their boyz David and Jack ! (Didn’ spend nearly enough time with them!)

Everywhere I turned there were folks I wanted to spend some time with ! Big Wayne and Jay Prince, Joshua all made a stop in and it was great to see these guys!  From out neighbors next door – Big Bob Gibson to every other corner. Quau right across from us, Tommy Kelly Mike and the list goes on and on. Then the International teams !! Belgium, the UK, Grill Ueli and more!! Nancy & her daughter from Team Top Chick and just getting a hug from her is special. There just isn’t enough time to see all those amazing people. Missed spending time with my Sister in Smoke Angie and David Gassaway

We did however receive many very kind gifts throughout the weekend from some very generous people- Gorgeous shirts from Miss Piggy’s BBQ, Lots and lots of Apple Pie from (Thanks so very much!!) from quite a few teams and friends, wines, coffee and cheese from Buzz, cookies, candies and cakes. An uber cool Diva shot glass from Momma Prairie Smoke & Spice! The list could go on and on. Good gracious I know I am forgetting a whole lotta folks! I am so lucky to have so many great friends.

Jessie and I with help from Jamie worked right up until 3am on the dessert then I crashed out for a couple of hours. We had a Mack Daddy site! Greg and Debbie Talley from Sam Dog BBQ  brought their 5th wheel out for us to use. It just goes to figure that the one time I have every luxury in the world I get the least amount of sleep. LOL    The boys kept watch until 5 am in between power naps – they rocked!! It was cold as heck out and they kept the fire burning all night!

Dawn came and I took a walkabout with my teammate Patrick – got to see some folks power cookers lighting their pits and getting ready for their day. It was a beautiful start to the day !!

Then we were off to the races as they say. Sauce went in and it was yummy. Cooking from the homeland dish went in and it was delicious then came the meats!! Chicken went in without a hitch its looked amazing and there was loads of flavor throughout. Ribs went in. They looked fantastic but were average. Nothing spectacular.  Pork went in and it rocked on flavor however presentation could have improved. Brisket went in and it was the bomb -awesome flavor in every bite! If you had asked me then I would have had high hopes for our brisket, then pork then chicken. Not so much for ribs.

Dessert went in and it was a 100% team effort. We all helped with the plating the carrying and the blocking to the turn in table. Its always a worry that someone will jostle the tray from your site to the turn ins at the Jack. Over 25,000 people are walking about !!

We got cleaned up as best we could had a whole lotta apple pie and cocktails and loaded up on bevvies for the awards ceremony.  Took some pictures at the staging area:

My husband and I finally have a picture of us at the Jack.


My sister in Smoke Jenny & I

We had a blast at the awards ceremony so cool to see so many of our friends!! Then we got our first call !! Happiest Home in the Hollow!! We need to thank our friends at Brown Forman Canada for helping us with some incredible Jack merchandise to show our love for their brand!! This is the second time we have won this award!!

We watched with great pride other teams from Canada get their names called !! Well Seasoned & the Black Pig BBQ for their taste of the Homeland Dishes!!! Awesome to see.

Then our beloved friends from Kansas Smoke on Wheels won Cooks Choice!!!!!!  Uber awesomeness!!

Everything passes by so fast at the Jack that its hard to keep up

We didn’t receive a call in Chicken or ribs but we got to see so many terrific people take walks. My phone was completely dead and I was sad not to be able to update peeps with Jack results and take pictures.

Then pork came and we cheered on Prairie Smoke and Spice for their 2nd place win!! Everything after that is pretty much a blur. We got called for 1st place PORK! At the Jack. Oh my flip I thought I was going to have a heart attack. They almost had to call a medic cause this Canadian chick lost her mind.

Head to 1:25 and you will get a better idea of what I am talking about.

The rest of the time and the night were a dream. We had quite the party after the awards!! Seeing our friends from big Bob Gibson get the RGC and then Smokin’ Hoggz win the GC was incroyable!!!

I left my team to party and I went and crashed for a few hours. I was done in. I had come with some goals and had achieved them. Wired BBQ at the beginning of the Jack gave me an interview asking what I wanted to come out of the Jack with. I told them a 1st in Dessert a 1st in Happiest Home in the Hollow and a 1st in pork. Other than dessert I achieved my goals!! The big one for sure!

World Champion for pork. That’s freaking amazing. We could not have done it without our friends and sponsors:

Traeger Canada
Basques Charcoal
BBQ Guru
Ontario Gas BBQ
Smoky Mountain Smokers
Butcher BBQ
Sam Dog BBQ
Brown Forman Canada


City of Barrie Ontario

Patrick Brown Office

Big Bone BBQ Barrie


Jamie Parisi

Jessie Sweeney

Patrick Weir

Mike Miller

Vlado Dimovski

Jason Rees

Thank you to everyone who supported us. You are all awesome.


The road to Lynchburg. Its been 3 years. You know you have to pinch yourself to see if it is real. As we left our hotel and headed to Lynchburg it was almost surreal. Wow. We are heading back to the Jack. It is incredible to be here again. The last couple of days have been so overcast and rainy. As we drove towards Lynchburg the weather brightened the sun was shining and it was just lovely. I got goosebumps seeing the Lynchburg signs. Exciting at the same time.

As we approached the competition area we took it all in. Traffic jam at the entrance gave us a chance to see our friends from MR. Bobo’s travelling all stars BBQ team and the Burnside BBQ team from Canada.

We got to our site and we were introduced to Jim Johnson who was doing an International dinner in the pavillion where our site was to be. We set up what we could and we headed to the town square where we picked up our Jack merchandise. I could drop a lot of coin at the store. So many fun Jack Daniels items.

At 1pm we had reservations at Mrs. Mary Bobo’s

The meal was delicious and we had a great time. It was the first time the entire team has been together. There are 8 of us and since we all live in different cities etc. it is hard for us to get all together prior to the Jack.

The rest of the evening was a great get together with all of the International teams as they chowed down on catfish fries and a whole lot of other food from Jim Johnson. It was a lot of ppl to feed.


The rest of the night was spent drinking and fraternizing and having a really great time with so many folks we don’t get to see often enough. (No pictures LOL)

Now we head off to the hollow overnight to BBQ our very best. Ill catch the blog up on Sunday since Internet in the hollow is not that great. Make sure to check the twitter feed for updates throughout the next 24 hours. …


Road trips !! Love em or hate em they are necessary if you need to haul all your BBQ equipment to a competition.
We left my house at about 230pm and started our adventurous trek to the Jack.

 Let me introduce you to my friend Jack!
 One of our important stops !! Duty Free!

The weather was grey and overcast the entire trip.. Mass pockets of rain hindered what is usually a beautiful scenic drive.

Getting to the Jack and our hotel as fast as possible was our goal. We had decided that it would be in our best interests if we drove through the night as much as we could safely.

Vlad – drove 99% of the way he is a trooper! 

There were four of us in the truck from the team – Vlado, Jamie, Mike and myself. Lets just say the ratio of testosterone to estrogen was a bit skewed. The boys talked about sports and argued the validity of their teams. Jamie had downloaded a lot of 80’s music that was great to listen to. Mike was in charge of candy procurement and snacks.

With all the rain and fog and mist we didn’t take a lot of pictures but how cold you miss this Dinosaur LOL 

It seemed like it took forever to get here. It almost did – almost 28 hours after we left we arrived in Nashville.

Now I am a very superstitious BBQ lady and I believe if you have done something in the past and it has worked then you should repeat the process. SO off to Jack’s BBQ for some food and a slice of chess pie. Just like I did 3 years previously.

At Jack’s I made sure to pet his pig at the front.  Then we grabbed a couple of plates of food to share with each other.  I think it is really important to try as much BBQ as possible wherever you are. I think it is a lifetime of learning about the different ways ppl make BBQ.

The guys about to Chow down!  
left to Right Mike Miller, Vlado Dimovski Jamie Parisi 

It was a good meal and a great kickoff to our time in Tennessee.

Texas Sausage, mustard greens and sweet potatoes all of it was delicious. 
Great memorable beans, cornbread, delicious brisket also ribs, pork and mac & cheese. 

After Jack’s BBQ we finally got to our hotel in Tullahoma TN and after cleaning up it was time for a few cocktails and talking to some of the teams that had already checked in.

We love Motts clamato caesars and Yeungling and we are well stocked for the next few days! 
Libations at the hotel with some of the fine folks from Smokin’ Hoggz

That’s it for day 1 !! (well that’s all that can be published lol) Today we are off to the legendary Mrs. Mary Bobo’s









We went to this contest as a family. It was a super nice change from the Royal. I love being with my family at BBQ contests. The route to and from PA was spectacular with all of the fall foliage.

Vlad the happy driver!

The contest was a KCBS & MABA event. KCBS categories Chicken Ribs Pork and Brisket and MABA categories Weavers Bologna, Bell Evans Chicken Wings Bell Evans Leg and thighs plus dessert.

I got the shock of my life when we received our products to use in the auxiliary categories.  The Lebanon bologna was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It is much closer to a sweet summer sausage. I had no idea what to do with it. My plans went out the window as soon as I saw it. I had never entered a bologna contest ever. Both the bologna and the wings were submitted on Friday night so it was a busy evening.

 So I cubed it up and slathered it with Sam Dog BBQ Mustard Sauce and a few other ingredients. Placed it in one of the Traegers and let it smoke for 4 hours until all the sides were caramelized. Lets just say it wasn’t pretty, but it was super tasty. We put it in our individual containers added a shot of Forty Creek whiskey as a chaser and sent it off to the judges.

We also competed in the wing category.  I love categories with open plating and we had a lot of fun with this one. We decided to give the judges some of our Yeungling beer as a side to the wings. I mean really who doesn’t love wings and beer?? I wish we could have tried one of teh wings but we had so few to work with (Meat was supplied) that we just had enough to barely fill the plate.

The rest of our Friday night was spent socializing. There are a lot of teams we got to catch up with including one of my Sisters in Smoke Jenny from Black Cat BBQ.

I believe there may have been some tequila involved. Really really good tequila from the fine folks Chip & Sally at Red Lion Spicy Foods one of our neighbors.

After a few libations I headed off to bed for a couple of hours. It was a lovely albeit cold evening.  Perfect for me.

When I woke up one of my other neighbors was up and stoking the fire in his Jambo. Mike Richter is an uber BBQ competitor. Currently ranked #3 in the KCBS TOY. He is super kind and nice to chat with I am glad to call him a friend.  I don’t get to see him or Barb often enough.

Then as the sun rose I took a bit of a walk about. Got to visit with the Smokin Gnomes, Tim, Tiny’s BBQ, and a whole lotta other terrific people.

The time got away from me a bit and I put on my Bell Evans best legs contest meat a bit late. Grill Grates came to the rescue and we turned in grilled chicken. It was tasty chicken. Much different from our normal KCBS chicken.

I can blame the time getting away from me on one thing. Donuts. Seriously damn good donuts. The biggest box of donuts ever that was provided to the teams along with coffee too!  Like a moth to a flame I was entranced….

The rest of the entries including dessert last went off without a hitch. They went in the boxes fine but the brisket was dry and I tried a couple of new presentations that I was thinking of doing for the Jack next weekend.  I figured if the brisket came in above DAL well then the judges were going to be very generous.

The awards ceremony time came and we headed off.

To my absolute shock we got a 1st place in bologna. LOL still makes me giggle.

We also took a 3rd in dessert 4th in wings and a 4th in Pork. The judges were uber generous and gave us 39/47 in brisket. They didn’t like our ribs 23/47 or our chicken 24/47 overall coming in at 21/47. Ugh. The Bell Evans BEst legs I am not sure where we ended up as they only reported to 5th place.

Huge congratulations to Aporkalypse Now (aka Myron of the North) for their GC and to Lo & Slo BBQ on their RGC and to all who competed!

So that’s it for regular comps for the year for us and we are now packing for the Jack next weekend. Hopefully we come home with at least 1 of these again :-) that would be spectacular !

I just need to get through catering a wedding and a baby shower this weekend plus a couple of soccer matches with the kids- a presentation at school and then driving there for 18 hours. I’ll sleep when I am dead. God bless the staff at Starbucks. They are keeping me upright with all the caffeine I am consuming.



Wow. What a trip. What a challenge. I am still sleep deprived and catching up on blog posts……


I flew into Kansas to compete in the American Royal Invitational and the Open. It was a blast. Absolutely exhausting and completely absorbing.

My illustrious site. One 10×10 tent 1 table and a really cool Q Kitchen equipped with an FE and a mack daddy char-broiler.

I am lucky to have some great friends all over. Truly once again let me repeat BBQ people are awesome. They do anything and everything to help. So with friends like Andy & Kim Groneman and the Early family, I had everything I needed to compete. Bare bones but all of the essentials. A complete kitchen with an FE and a charbroiler, a Tent a cot, some coolers and friends to help. I had stocked up the previous day with Kim at BBQFans, Liberty Fruit and the hen house and I was all set.



However I will say my site had to be one of the worst possible locations ever. Horrible would be an understatement. I was right along the end of the entrance (AKA  HALLWAY OF HELL! – see below)  for the folks heading into the dark side and when they wanted to drag their drunk obnoxious loud asses home they had to go right by my site again.

Then there was the lovely* cleaning crew located right around the corner that seemed to take great joy every morning at 3am waking all of us up with their noise. They didn’t stop till well past 7 or 8 am.

Total sleep for 2 days less than 6 hours. Total times I wanted to throttle someone — ———– I can’t count that high.

My super comfy cot with Big Poppas Smokers Sweater pillow.

Just an example of two of the drunks that stumbled by.  Freak clowns. I should have just set up a video camera.

Sleep deprivation aside it was a challenge. I have only cooked on an FE 3 times prior to this. Thank fully I had taken Butcher BBQ and Plowboys class and they covered how they run their meats in their FE’s In addition Andy was uber helpful. Anytime you do 2 contests back to back it is a challenge :-)

I got to spend some time socializing with friends and thats a big part of getting to go to the Royal

I also had a couple of Texans – Chris Jones and David Henry plus Neil Strawder with me to run boxes and to help where they could. That was a really fun part of the weekend. Loved hanging with the guys.

I also got to spend time with a Legend and dear friend of mine Dave Raymond from Sweet baby Rays. I love this guy. He rocks.

The Royal is an interesting contest. On day one for the Invitational I came in 88th out of 141 and in the Open 81st out of 498 . Not stellar by any means. It was a challenge and I am really glad I did it no matter what the results.  It was an excellent personal challenge just to get through it all. I know I made some good BBQ.

Another huge highlight for the weekend had to be participating in a steak throw down as part of the KCBS tour !I got to compete against Heath Hall of Pork Barrel BBQ Fame. We had a blast with this and it was tons of fun!!

I had a huge surge of patriotic Canadian pride seeing 2 of my fellow countrymen Tim Brown and Daryl Maybanks from Can’t Stop Grilling take Reserve Grand Championship in the open!! They had a rough Invitational and came out on top HUGE congrats to them both and for also using Kingsford as it doubled their prize money!! WTG guys!!

Congratulations to all who got their name called and to everyone who just survived the Royal again!!

Results for both Days Invitational (Congratulations Tippycanoe BBQ Crew GC!) and Open (Congratulations Motley Que Crew GC!)











This morning its all about veggies (and tofu too!) on Ontario Morning with Mike Ewing (Filling in for Wei Chen) here are a couple of the recipes I talked about

Grilled Brussel Sprouts

  • 1 lb Brussel sprouts cleaned and trimmed
  • ¼ cup butter melted
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Granulated garlic
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 BBQ buddy™ pan

On a charcoal grill with a medium heat (300F) place bbq buddy ™ pan.
Fill with brussel sprouts and sprinkle on granulated garlic, salt & pepper.
Brush with butter. Turn after 5-10 minutes then brush with butter again.
Remove when brussel sprouts are just starting to turn soft (approx 15-20 minutes)
Garnish with sprigs of thyme.

Optional : drizzle with a very good quality Balsamic vinegar or truffle oil just prior to serving.


BBQ Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 large spaghetti squash halved
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Brush cut sides of spaghetti squash with canola oil and pierce multiple times with a fork. Sprinkle on thyme, salt and pepper. Grill indirect on medium high heat for 3/4- 1 hour until squash is softened.  Using tines of fork scrape the squash to create strands. Top each half with 1 tablespoon butter and Parmesan cheese. Serve warm

Diva Q Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 5 lg. sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 c. butter, soft
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. Butter


  • • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • • 1 cup chopped pecans


Heat grill to medium high heat.  Poke washed sweet potatoes with a fork multiples of times. Wrap in foil and place on grill.

When potatoes are fork tender (depending on size anywhere from 30-45 minutes) remove and set aside to cool a bit.

When cool enough to handle use a paring knife and remove skins. Mash 1/2 cup butter with sweet potatoes.

Add brown sugar, vanilla, milk and butter mash well. Pour all of this into a well greased oven proof 9×12 dish

In a bowl mix together the sugar, flour and cut in butter till a coarse crumble. Add the pecans and sprinkle this mixture over the sweet potatoes.

Place back on the grill indirect at 350 degrees for approx 30 minutes. Serves 8.

Portobello Veggie Heaven Cheddar Burger 

  • 12 Medium Portobello Mushroom Caps


  • ¾ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper


  • 12 Ciabatta buns
  • 1/2 cup butter melted


  • 4 large ripe avocados mashed
  • 6 roma tomatoes seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • 3 limes zested & juiced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder


  • 12 slices Bothwell Red Hot Chili Pepper Jack
  • 12 pieces roasted red pepper
  • Thin slices of red radish
  • Curly leaf lettuce


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high, 450–550°F
  2. In a large bowl, whisk ingredients for vinaigrette. Brush vinaigrette on gill side of mushrooms and set aside.
  3. Assemble ingredients for guacamole in a medium bowl. Chill until ready.
  4. Grill the mushroom caps 6-7 minutes per side or until softened.
  5. Brush buns with melted butter and grill, turning often until golden.
  6. Top each of the mushroom caps with slice of Thornloe Sundried Tomato & Basil Cheddar return to the grill for 1- 2 minutes & close lid until the cheese has melted.
  7. Assemble each burger with toppings of curly leaf lettuce, thin slices of red radish and roasted red pepper.

*Always ensure prior to grilling burgers that your grill is well cleaned and oiled.


Grilled Tofu with Tamarind Glaze

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
Slice tofu in 4 slices. Brush each slice with canola oil grill on medium high heat 5- 10 minutes on each side until lightly charred.  While the tofu is grilling- in a small bowl whisk all of the ingredients together for the glaze. Brush the slices of tofu with the glaze and grill an additional 1-2 minutes per side. Serve warm.
** Make sure your grill is super clean and well oiled prior to grilling tofu. It can stick very easily.


Cheeses that can be grilled:

Halloumi –  Halloumi is the traditional white cheese of Cyprus . It is delicious when grilled .

Guernsey Girl Upper Canada Cheese Company    Delicious and fun to grill.


Great products to use with grilling veggies-  Alcan BBQ Buddy available all over Canada at major retail chains and supermarkets.

Weber Veggie Basket available from Ontario Gas BBQ 

Frogmats – Great for indirect cooking




I know this came as a huge shock but we did it. We being Tim Brown of Can’t Stop Grilling, Steph Legari, Team Eatapedia and my own team Diva Q !!

Check out what Ron Eade Food Editor Ottawa Citizen had to say about the event on his blog. 




The Canadian teams swept the BBQ competition at the US Ambassador’s Residence 4th of July Celebration in Ottawa Ontario. Team Eatapedia and their Chicken recipe took 1st, Steph Legari took first with his rib recipe and Team Diva Q took 1st with our Pork Butt recipe. To say it was a thrill is an understatement.

We were required to submit all three categories and enough samples for 15 judges all within a 10 minute window. It was challenge for sure and I was glad just to get through it.

The team rankings were as follows after the tabulations from the acclaimed accounting firm Ernst & Young :

  1. Can’t Stop Grilling
  2. Diva Q
  3. Natural Born Grillers
  4. Military Chefs
  5. 1st Choice Catering
  6. Steph Legari/Team Eatapedia
It was such an honor to be asked to go and prepare #BBQ with Natural Born Grillers (John Wheeler) with assistance from Dennis and Allen Smith of Boars Night Out and their teams. I have now also met the hardest working woman in BBQ Mama NBG   – she could run circles around just about anyone. They did an outstanding job with their old Hickory pits and produced copious amounts of ribs chicken and pork.  Everyone worked under their advisement and made sure to have everything ready for the 4000+ dignitaries that attended this event. Hard work for sure.
*Pictures courtesy of Mike Hynes Team Eatapedia
We also got to spend some time with US Ambassador Jacobson and his lovely wife Julie.  Posing for pictures beside my Traeger Pink Pig Grill and also in front of their residence.
Picture courtesy of Jason Rees

Plus on top of it all early on the morning of the 4th I did a short TV segment with John Woods the coordinator of the event for Canada AM. I am thankfrul the other teams were there to help set everything up. We even made sure to have a balance in BBQ’s – the Blue Ole Hickory Mailbox that NPG has won with so many times and the Pink Traeger Pig


On any given day the results could have been vastly different – However the real secret I do believe in the Canada over the USA win was the fact that we shared one of our favorite libations the Canadian Award winning whiskey Forty Creek. You need to spread the love & share with your fellow BBQ’er always with no egos, just making good BBQ and having a ton of fun-


I BBQ and grill all year round. Neither snow nor rain keeps me from getting my grill on. So with this in mind here are my top winter grilling tips as posted on my twitter account from today..

my backyard – getting ready to shovel so I could grill.

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ Use a @Thermapen all year round to know the temperature of your food.

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ Make sure to clean all of the snow off of the lids of your grills before your start

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ Use tried and true easy recipes for winter grilling. This is not the time to be planning out a 10 course meal.

Winter Grilling tips #BBQ if you are looking you are not cooking .. seriously keep the lid closed people as much as you can

Winter Grilling tips #BBQ before using a gas grill in winter double check the hoses for any cracks.

Winter Grilling tips #BBQ Cleaning up in winter is a bit more challenging wipe up your drips immediately. Hard frozen fat is harder to clean

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ Use recipes that call for just a single flip… Less maintenance of the food = happier winter grilling.

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ You will go through more charcoal in winter. Use a good quality lump charcoal with low moisture level.

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ get to know your grill and how to use the grill with indirect heat.You can grill larger cuts of meat in the winter

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ Keep a safe path to your grills. Shovel out before you start. Nothing worse than cooking & dropping dinner in snow

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ Food takes longer to cook in the winter & grills can take longer to warm up. Give yourself extra time for dinner.

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ It gets dark a lot earlier in winter invest in a grill light, outdoor patio lantern or other light source

Winter grilling tips #BBQ Try to put your grill in an area that is screened away from wind as much as possible.Wind is your biggest enemy.

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ A snow pile makes a great beer holder.

Winter Grilling Tips #BBQ always check your propane tank before you start and have a backup

Winter Grilling tips #BBQ Food cools down a lot faster in winter (duh) have a warmed ready to go platter to bring food in quickly

Winter Grilling tips #BBQ Plastic is much more brittle in winter. Take it easy on those tools and knobs.

Winter Grilling tips #BBQ Never grill in your garage. Seriously death by carbon monoxide poising just bites

Winter Grilling tips #BBQ Avoid wearing scarves and stick to well fitting clothing like turtlenecks.

Winter grilling tips #BBQ Keep it super simple … Don’t make things on the grill that require a lot of basting.

My grills all lined up in the backyard. This was from 2 weeks ago.


It was a tropical BBQ in a frigid climate this morning on CTV Canada AM. Had the pleasure once again to be on Canada’s most watched national morning  show. Usually when I show up to do a grilling or BBQ segment there are lots of staff milling about but with -8 in the sun today it was a little quiet on the patio.  Seamus O’Regan had me laughing yet again. He loves anything with Jerk spices on it. Today’s menu was inspired by the tropics. They are super simple yummy &  easy recipes. Its for those of us who can’t get to the tropics for the sun but at least we can eat like we are in the tropics…..

Diva Q Jamaican Jerk Chicken


  • 1 whole chicken cut into 6/8 pieces
  • Jamaican Jerk Rum Wet Rub (see recipe below)
  • 2 limes halved


Rub jerk seasoning over chicken pieces. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat a barbecue grill to medium high. Grill chicken pieces direct, turning often until the temperature of the dark pieces is 180F and the light pieces is 165F. Remove pieces from the grill and top with freshly squeezed lime juice.

Diva Q Jamaican Jerk Pork Loin


  • 1 whole pork loin
  • Jamaican Jerk Rum Wet Rub
  • 2 limes halved


Rub jerk seasoning over pork loin. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat a barbecue grill to medium high. Sear each side of the pork loin direct then move to the indirect side and grill till the temperature of the loin reaches 160F and top with freshly squeezed lime juice. Rest at least 15 minutes prior to serving.

Diva Q Jamaican Jerk Rum Wet Rub:


  • 1/2 red onion finely minced
  • 2-4 Scotch bonnet peppers finely minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 cup green scallions
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 small jalapenos finely minced
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp Appleton Estates Rum

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. This wet rub is great on pork, chicken and salmon. Marinate larger pieces of meats overnight before grilling.

Diva Q Tropical Grilled Mango Salsa


  • 2 ripe mangos seeded and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 whole poblano pepper seeded and halved
  • 2 jalapeno peppers seeded and finely minced
  • 1 red pepper finely minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 limes juiced and zested
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup finely minced red onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Canola oil to coat grates of BBQ


Prepare the grill for medium high heat. Oil grates with canola oil. Grill mango slices directly turning often until just tender and lightly charred. Grill poblano turning often until softened and the skin has blistered. Cube the grilled mango and chop the poblano into small pieces. Add the remaining ingredients and serve with chicken pork or fish.

Diva Q Drunk Pineapple Dessert  (just for adults)

  • 1 whole pineapple sliced core removed
  • 4oz Sangsters Original Jamaican Rum Cream
  • 2 cups whipped cream
  • Toasted almond slices


Preheat a grill to medium high heat. Oil grates with canola oil. Grill slices of pineapple directly turning often until just tender and charred with grill marks. Cube the pineapple slices and divide between 4 martini glasses. Pour 1 oz of Jamaican Rum cream over pineapples in each glass. Garnish each glass with whipped cream and toasted almond slices.


* 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 !