Darren Warth
Darren Warth

Editor’s Note: We are excited to introduce another blog contributor to PorkNetwork this week. Darren Warth is owner of Smokey D’s restaurant in Des Moines. He is an avid promoter of pork products and sells thousands of pounds of delicious pork entrees at his three Smokey D’s locations. Darren is also a devoted barbecue competitor and has participated in more than 30 barbecue competitions this year. More often than not, you’ll find his name among the top winners. He will share what he likes about pork and some of his experiences while competing in this informative and enjoyable blog.

Hello, PorkNetwork visitors! Let me tell you a little about myself: I grew up in the small town of New London, Iowa (southeast Iowa), went to Iowa State University and graduated with a degree in finance in 1989. I met my wife, who is from Ankeny, while I was in college and we came to Des Moines. I found a job as a dispatcher for a transportation company, then I moved to another job working as a logistics specialist with Ruan. I eventually became the vice president of logistics for Ruan.

Old hobbies, new hobbies
I used to be into hunting, fishing and golfing – those were our hobbies – until I got into the world of competition barbecue. I went to pick up my deer sausage at the locker one day and the bill was $1,200. I thought to myself, “Wow, I really should be able to do this myself,” so I began investigating. I learned about how to smoke sausage, what kind of smokers to use, etc. While doing that, I came across this thing called competition barbecue. I had no idea what it was but I found information about the American Royal Barbecue Contest in Kansas City. I told my wife that we should go down there – it sounded like fun – and we were just in heaven.

We’d been big tailgaters at Iowa State and this was a way to bring in “cooking in the backyard” with the tailgating atmosphere and the social network. With the competitive spirit that I’ve always had, we were instantly hooked. A few days after we got back from the American Royal, I called up and ordered our first custom-built smoker out of Houston, Texas.

I was in the Atlanta airport travelling for work when I got the call that my smoker was done, so I flew to Houston, rented a car, picked up my smoker and drove for 24 hours straight back to Iowa, just so I could hurry up and get a fire in that barbecue pit!

As you’ll learn in this blog, anything I do is full-blown, with both arms and legs in. I’m looking forward to telling you about how we use pork in our restaurants, what I’ve learned at the barbecue contests and share with you my love of pork and barbecue. Can you think of a better combination?

I welcome your comments!