Ray Lampe aka Dr. BBQ has written another book. This time its SLOW FIRE a Beginners guide to Barbecue. The book is full of very approachable recipes and content driven towards the novice BBQ’er. There is nothing in this book that is cooked above 250F. Its all about low and slow. Very little in the way of competition mentions. No grilling recipes are included. From the basics of brisket, pork, chicken and ribs to the more adventuresome Spicy Orange Duck its a great read.


The sauces have definitely taken it up a notch in this book. They are complex but not so complex that they are not easily replicated at home. I am really looking forward to making banana ketchup. I have been lucky to call Ray a friend for years and so I asked him many many questions not only about his new book but about his life as a BBQ Man.



What inspired you to write SLOW FIRE?

The idea that there are a lot of hero books out there are intimidating. The size of the books are intimidating. This is a down to earth book. I think it is important. I have the experience to do it. Its just about cooking BBQ. Not very much in competition.

Where does your creativity come from

I think that it is a gift that I can just do it. Just write. The way I start is by figuring out how may recipes I need and chapters. I need to write 75 titles. Later on some of them change or they are not viable. I just sit down and do it. At this point there are some good things about being old. First of all I am experienced, I have more comfort in all sorts of kitchens. It makes it easier to write and come up with creative recipes.


Who was/is your BBQ Mentor? 

There were two guys- the first is Ed Roith. He was at the top of his game when I started with a Jedmaster. I bought one after him. He took me under his wing and helped me a lot. Most significant mentor. John Beadle from Grand Rapids MI – fun BBQ guy. He was never wildly successful and he always was there for the good times. Made me stay on the Saturday night. He taught me the right way to enjoy it and approach it. I think I was a better cook than him but he taught me how to enjoy it.  Its different now – everyone is much more serious. More focused it was different back then.

What other BBQ’s do you enjoy other than your BGE?  

I love my weber kettle. When I first stated dated Sandi she had a horrible gas grill. So I brought one (weber kettle) over to her house and left it there. I figured if  it didn’t go well it wasn’t as expensive as leaving the egg. I think my Jedmaster is still one of my favorites.  When I first started Oklahoma Joe (Horizons) or David Klose were the only viable commercial BBQ’s . The next wave was after Traegers and then the Jedmasters. It was one of the first set it and forget it bbq’s.

Ray Lampe has been sponsored by the BIG Green EGG for years

He also would like to thank the fine folks at Thermoworks


What is your favorite libation or cocktail to go with BBQ?

Jack Daniels & Coke Zero – Early times, Buffalo Times as long as there is coke Zero to go with it.

What is your favorite smoking wood? 

Pecan. I always liked it. Karen Putnam was the first to teach me to use combinations of woods . I used to like a combination of oak and cherry.

What is your proudest BBQ accomplishment? 

I got to cook with Chris Lilly at the James Beard house cooking real BBQ on the street. Very proud of that. It was a great experience.

Picture courtesy of Hoss’s BBQ & Catering

What is your proudest competition BBQ accomplishment? 

The most important trophy would be 3rd overall at the American Royal. Gary Wells gave me the award in 1998. I didn’t expect to be third. Gary was a good friend of mine. AS soon as I walked off the stage there was John Willingham. I had been doing pretty well and he said a few things to that context.

I will tell you that last year at Sams Club winning the GC was pretty darn cool. Making a comeback after so many years..  I think that I am a bit disenchanted with competition BBQ currently.  The people are so good at what they do. Everything is soo perfect. Is not as much fun anymore. For me I love going to the Royal – I think it is pretty special and there are lots of memories there for me. Since 1993 I have been going. Over 20 years it has evolved so much.

Where is your favorite place to BBQ? 

At home.  Staying home and cooking is the place to BBQ that I love the most.

What is your favorite recipe from the book SLOW FIRE? 

The BBQ Duck with Spicy Orange Glaze, the Pastrami, and the Cuban Style leg of Pork. The BBQ recipes- there are so many and they are good. I have become a much better sauce maker and the sauces in this book are terrific.

Do you feel that you have learned everything you need to know about BBQ – considering your long career? 

No definitely not. I go back a long ways but it never ends. There is always history to learn about.  There are so many new things always being developed and always another BBQ joint to eat at.

Where do you like to eat BBQ? 

I eat BBQ everywhere. In Florida – Fred Flemings Championship BBQ,   Arthur Bryants, Big Bob Gibson, Cozy Corner, In Chicago – Smoque BBQ. Blue Smoke in Manhattan.  I love eating BBQ turkey anywhere. In  Texas though its always brisket.


What is your best advice to a novice backyard BBQ’er?

Patience. It takes a really long time. I am not a fan of hot and fast. It doesn’t make better food and takes away the element of what BBQ is. Taking a big piece of meat with a lot of fat and making it good. It takes a long time to cook great BBQ – get used to it.

What projects are you working on next? 

New Cookbook. Won’t be out till 2014. I am going to grillfest in Minneapolis. Guest Chef (Legends Culinary Series) at Yankee Stadium May 9th & 22nd at the Legends Suite Club. Cooking class in Brandon Florida coming up. Oakland CA- July going to cook Santa Rosa Tex Wasabi’s  . GrillStock in June. July at a winery with Chris Lilly. Might see me turn up on the Food Network in July. Book signing at Costco in June.

What are your favorite BBQ forums to read?

The BBQ Forum. The BBQ Brethren Forum – It amazes me how well everyone is very well behaved there. Great information.

How has in your opinions social media/bbq forums changed BBQ?

Its good and its bad. We all get to know each other. We have found each other and networked. It amazes me at the other end of the country I can walk into a bar full of BBQ’ers and I know them. The internet has a lot to do with it. I am not a fan of the contest sharing – the boxes and the recipes. Not that it is not nice to share but it is a lot of sharing. Its watered down the competition. The classes that are the same ingredients – all commercial products. No one seems to make their own anymore. Not skilled as much. Social media is a great communication tool.  I can’t stand however the same regurgitated crap over and over again.

How many BBQ books do you own and which besides your own would you recommend? 

I own all of them. LOL I would recommend – Walter Jetton’s LBJ’s ranch chef. I would recommend that one. Its from 1965. I buy most of them. I don’t read a lot of them because I just don’t want to steal ideas accidentally.


Where would you ideally like to travel next on a BBQ adventure? 

I think I already did it. There are not many more places on my BBQ bucket list. I have been to the greats. Lockharts, Arthur Bryants etc. I have been lucky enough to travel to so many places.

I have not been to Alaska. Maybe ill have to head there next.

You recently came back from the UK, Why do you think Southern US style of BBQ  is trending internationally? 

The internet has made the world more available. It is the American cuisine.  It is catching on. It has just so many elements. It has the food and the culture. Its not like burger or steak joints.  When you walk into a joint -that BBQ guy cooking is revered. BBQ has so much more going on other than the food. The concept of cooking the lesser cuts.  Very few chain restaurants of BBQ have worked. So many layers that make it interesting. Its good also because we like to eat it. It tastes great.

The way they cut meat there is really different. Brisket is chopped flat and slicing the point.  They are very skilled chefs over there. The competition guys get stuck in this pattern here.  Creativity is being bred out of it. I hate to see that. I find that over in the UK they have more creativity.

You have a legendary 5 o’clock tattoo – any plans for more? 

YES. I was in England and it inspired me to get pork fried rice on the inside of my arm…….

Do you think physical cook books are becoming obsolete? Is everything going to be online? 

Obsolete no. Changing yes. They are becoming more collectibles and are becoming more impulse buys.  Now to travel its easy to travel with an Ipad loaded with books. This is the first time I have had a lot of this book on downloads for tablets, kindles and Ipads.  The big books for $40 or $50 come with the food network stars.   Online more of the smaller books are being sold.

Your relationship with fiancee Sandi seems to have mellowed you in the last few years – would you agree? 

Yes there is no doubt I am very happy. The place I am in my life and where I am – she is a big part of it. Is all good. Just wait to see what comes next.


Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe has a total of 6 books in print:



Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe Facebook

Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe Twitter







Saturday May 28, 2011- 2pm CBS

Once again executive producer John Markus is putting BBQ on TV. This time however its the major network CBS!  This will potentially be the largest audience ever to watch a BBQ competition. John seems to be doing all he can to bring BBQ to the forefront of folks minds on TV. Hate it, love it, like it, or tolerate it JM has done more for putting BBQ on TV than any other person.  It surely hasn’t been easy.

Arm chair critics en masse made many seriously derogatory remarks about past formats, the venues, the type of BBQ being made and heck even the people participating.  He has seriously taken many lashings from the vocal competitive BBQ community. Despite having almost a million people tune in each episode from past seasons of BBQ Pitmasters he still seems to be fighting to get BBQ on tv. The good thing for all of us – he hasn’t given up. I have a feeling this may be his best work yet. Real BBQ in real situations in real time with judges who have credentials that can’t be beat.

I can’t wait to watch it.


At the invitation of   Huck’s Hut We did an interview for a podcast with John Markus to talk about the show. The link to the show and the entire interview  is: Also folks can subscribe to receive the podcasts via itunes here:

Some of the highlights of the interview:

What sets this show apart from the previous shows (BBQ Pitmasters seasons 1&2 etc) that you have done prior?

JM: This show is the 5th incarnation. It is the culmination of the shows from the past presented in the way that I wanted. It is set apart by the judging as well:

The Judging – its  really distinct from everything else- Mike Lake .. well  Mike is sorta like the Eiffel tower of judging he is a landmark guy full of integrity, Chris Lilly is now becoming the Lance Armstrong of winning – with his win of the MIM and Dr. BBQ – integrity &   authentic judging.

Is CBS less over your shoulder than TLC?

JM: CBS in partnership with TBS was totally hands off. This is the kind of freedom I got from Cosby show. I had freedom to set up. They did not get up on set. Kingsford Marketing department was really a delight. We only had budgetary constraints.

Why are you so beloved of Myron?

I have admiration of Myron as a personality. I called him up and after I saw the first cut of the show. You know Myron – you are not an angel. You came off as a bad guy and Myron said “good”. Thats is a guy that is ok alienating some people and he is a character I have a lot of affection for. I reserve a special place for him and he is old school. He has a tremendous amount of integrity and how he conducts his business and cook.

What projects are you currently working on ?

JM:  I am working on a script for a sitcom : 3 generations of a BBQ family in Alabama I pitch in a couple of weeks I’d like to call it :  Love Death & BBQ


From Clint Cantwell Smoke in Da Eye :

Memorial Day weekend is going to get a whole lot hotter as CBS unveils The Ultimate BBQ Showdown. Airing at 2pm ET on Saturday, May 28th, this one hour special pits four seasoned outdoor cooks against one another in a live competition barbecue setting. Joining the battle for bragging rights, the Kingsford Cup and a whole lot of cash are the “winning-est man in BBQ,” Myron Mixon; the professor himself, Tuffy Stone; Neil “My friends call me Bigmista” Strawder; and the guy who put Bubba in Bub-Ba-Q, Bubba Latimer. Who’ll rise above the smoke and flames? You’ll have to tune in to see!

* Make sure to check out Clints You Tube account for the video trailer for the Ultimate BBQ Showdown!


The Judges:

Chris Lilly (Big Bob Gibsons) , Ray Lampe (Dr. BBQ) , and Mike Lake (Past president KCBS) all are seasoned bbq Veterans and they all know what it takes to compete.   Without question these are serious BBQ judges. They know their stuff inside and out. There is no question of credentials here.

The Cooks:



William ” Bubba ” Latimer & Shannon Latimer


I asked Bubba for a few of his thoughts on the show:

What was your experience like on the Ultimate BBQ Showdown?

WBL: It was absolutely incredible. The format of the show was just – I think it was what a lot of people are looking for in a BBQ show. Its a no bullshit set up. We have a timer we have meats to cook and that’s it.

How was your experience?

WBL: If they called me today I would go in a heartbeat- if they called me to drive to Kansas tonight I would. The food network thing was more profiling the BBQ and all that but this was taken to a complete other level. I wouldn’t even think twice about it. It was just too cool. One of the things I liked is that it was just the 4 of us. Four well seasoned cooks and at any given point at time anyone could have won the show. I think everyone turned in great food. We were able to do it and have a good time with it. There was some smack talk. Some of the intriguing things was that it was made like it  was as instructional as possible. The viewing public will want to see it whether it be a pro or anyone in their backyard – it is geared towards anyone.

Why did you do the show?

WBL:  I did the show realistically because I am into all BBQ stuff. We have had former experiences doing TV like this but the fact that it was more realistic other than Pitmasters was great.  When John Markus told us about the concept it was just the more realistic show that I could think of. It wasn’t staged. It wasn’t scripted. Just like all of us going out competing. Very nice to know there was a monetary prize. No one upfront knew that there was a money prize. Mentioned there was a trophy but not money that wasn’t the reason for going. Honestly it wasn’t a reason for me. It seemed real. The fact that we were on an uncontrolled set made it that much more interesting. From me to my cooker to the plastic fence was a foot. The general public was there. There was 10,000 + ppl there passing by. So different than being on a controlled set like Pitmasters. You knew you were there for a real contest.

Which show did you like better BBQ Pitmasters or Ultimate BBQ Showdown?

WBL: Showdown – hands down.  I would do it again in a heartbeat no matter what anyone has to say.  It is not at all a good thing to see someone go home. This one (Ultimate)I like the fact that it is limited time frame. What I liked most is that there just wasn’t any bullshit. To me that summed the whole thing up.  On pitmasters there was no down time it was just go go go go go and you get distracted. Once they tell you whats going on the show thats it. Take off and go. On Ultimate BBQ Showdown there was level food all the way across for all competitors. Nobody had an advantage food wise.

As a couple team with your wife Shannon – how is your experience different than others?

This is definitely a little different – the pitmaster is always the main cook and then you have that assistant with you – this had short time frames so she was more involved with what was going on. Probably the best experience for us cooking together. There is a lot of drama happening in a short period of time. Knowing that it just needs to get taken care of. She has always brought something to the table. This one felt like we really worked more together. When we compete on the road I feel like I do more alone. But this one I really relied on her. Part of it has to be because of the format. I absolutely loved it.

With both of us there it was really cool..

What did you think of the Judges?

Well the nice thing is we are talking about well qualified judges. Chris Lilly and Dr. BBQ – guys that have years of expertise in BBQ from judging from competing to operating a restaurant to all around being involved with BBQ   Its not someone who just enjoys the food. Really know what they talk about. Mike Lake- has trained who knows how many judges. I don’t think you could have any better non biased judging.

Bub-Ba Q Website





Neil “Bigmista” Strawder

Bigmista’s Barbecue

Neil had just arrived in Phoenix Arizona for a Fresh & Easy TV appearance and is currently slated to do multiples of store appearances with Fresh & Easy. These are a few of his thoughts on the show.

How was your experience on the show?

NS:  It was a lot of fun. Really great. Talked a lot of smack. Had a few adult beverages. We all enjoyed each other. It was really easy to be there.  We even liked the judging.

Do you think it will appeal to more non BBQ people?

NS: I think it will appeal to a lot of people. A little more laid back. There are no strange ingredients just a couple of little twists. Nothing a person could not handle – no alligator. It was a fun cook.

Why did you do the show? How did you get on the show?

NS:  They asked me. (he says laughing)  It sounded like fun. When they told me about it – I asked how much would it be like BBQ Pitmasters. They promised I would not have to cook strange ingredients. Its not going to an actual KCBS contest but it was closer to KCBS. NO insane pressure . We were in the parking lot of the final 4 in Houston. I got a chance to go see my Mom in Galveston-it was a no brainer for me.

Who cooked with you on the show?

NS: I had my friend George from pitmaker .com and he brought me this beautiful cooker.  He is a good cook in his own right. He was a soldier. He had it in my hand alredy. Mad props to that. While everyone else drove in I flew in and it was easier on me.



What sets this apart from BBQ Pitmasters?

NS: Well for one the judges are all BBQ guys. There is no “celebrity” judges or chefs. The people there know BBQ. Cooking for them was great. Those guys are all masters. That was a big part of it right there.

Would you do the show again if given the chance?

NS: In a heartbeat.



Myron Mixon

Jack’s Old South


Tuffy Stone

Q Barbecue


Saturday May 28, 2011- 2pm CBS



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

RL-Well I am the resident Pitmaster of 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 .