Darren Warth
Darren Warth

When we started doing competition barbecue, we only competed in Iowa. We saw the same people all the time, but part of the fun is branching out and making new friendships. I competed in Mesquite, Nevada last year, and I have this whole crew of California and Arizona friends. We were in northern Wisconsin where we have a whole other group of friends that we only see two or three times a year.

The fun is going to new places and meeting new people and sharing ideas. We’re normally a “25-contest team,” in other words, we’ll normally go to about 25 contests in a year, but 2013 set a new record. We competed in more than 30 contests in more than 10 states, including Arizona, Nevada, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Illinois, Kansas and New York. There are probably a couple others that I’m forgetting!

Barbecue Lovers Galore
Our partner, Shad, has done eight or nine competitions with his team. The kitchen manager in our main restaurant and the man who runs our downtown location actually have a team called the Smokey D’s Wannabes, and they’ve been very successful as well.

Barbecue is our life. Sometimes I’ll get off a plane at midnight, be in the office the next morning at 7 a.m., go home after working here and prep meat for a competition, get ready and go to a competition, then come back home when it’s over on Sunday and start the whole process again. It sounds grueling, but we love it.

Home Away from Home

Our 40-ft. custom barbecue trailer has full living quarters and a full commercial kitchen. We got it in March last year and it truly is our home away from home.

The attraction for me is first, trophies – I love trophies and ribbons. Second would be meeting new friends and spreading the word. And a way distant third would be the promotion it provides for our business. Even further down the list is the prize money – it’s nice, but the other factors are much more important to me.

In my next post, I’ll tell you about how we promote our business.