After a long hard fought battle on July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, along with the initial idealist Richard Henry Lee finalized the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
We not only believed that we had the God given right of freedom, but that every human on this planet deserves this freedom. No matter what race, religion, or creed. This is the exact reason we go into other countries and fight for the freedoms of others we feel are deprived of this God given right. On this day 236 years ago we didn’t just make a promise to ourselves, we made a promise to the human species, that we as Americans will fight to the death until everyone of us is FREE.
So with that said, I had the freedom to sit down and get to know Harry Soo of Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ at the Phoenix Club BBQ Championships. We talked a little about where he came from, how he got here and just what is involved in doing a double header. You have the freedom to check out my interview.
MEAT ME: How much stuff do you usually bring with you?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: Donna (my fiancé who has her own BBQ Team – “Butcher’s Daughter) and I cook out of 1 minivan. We basically have tents and 2 smokers. Donna is cooking Silicon Valley so I have the luxury of real estate here. Most days I travel with one WSN and one canopy. Travel light.
MEAT ME: Have you cooked with other types of smokers?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: Yes, I have cooked with everything. I prefer this because I am a one person team. I have to pack, clean and unload everything myself. After you do about 30 of these a year it gets to be really hard because of all the work you have to do every time. After the contest I will clean and pack the van for the next contest. I don’t unload the van at home it is only used for cooking. Before I leave I load it with the consumable items like meat, tissue, and towels.
MEAT ME: So do you have covers for each side of your canopy?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: No, I just leave it open because with sides it acts like a sail. I leave it open with just the team banner up and so the wind comes underneath and keeps everything cool.
MEAT ME: So where do you sleep?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: In the van. If it’s nice out I will sleep under the canopy.
MEAT ME: What about your tables?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: I raise them up with 1” PVC piping. This is the best $5 you can spend at Home Depot. A normal counter top is 36”, a normal dining table is 24”. You want to make sure it is 16” higher than your dining room table. This will save your back.
*Harry took a moment to show us how to be able to tell when your meat is ready.
MEAT ME: On the vertical smoker you are using wood and charcoal combined together?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: First of all, let’s talk about fuel source. You have a number of different choices for pits. You can use briquettes, pellets, and wood logs. Different teams have different preferences. I use the cheapest available fuel, which is Kingsford at $7 a bag. Second is the flavor of your wood. Most teams use hickory, apple, cherry, or peach. Those are the most common. Wood is usually depends on the region you are in. If you are in the Pacific Northwest they use a lot of alder and in southern California they use grape vines as well as a lot of citrus kinds of woods. I like to use apple and hickory.
You have to worry about two things :1 is BTU’s. When you run a pit you need to worry about heat, it is measured in BTU’s. Certain woods have higher BTU’s than others. Some people who use pellets use oak because it generates heat other woods like apple don’t generate heat they just generate flavoring. So you have to have a heat source that generates both heat (BTU’s) and flavoring. I use briquettes for my heat source and apple and hickory for my flavoring.
MEAT ME: So you get your charcoals heated up. They are nice and red are you adding wood then? How does it work?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: I load a pit using the Minion Method. Which is named after a guy named Jim Minion. You put unlit coals in your pit and then put lit coals in the middle of the charcoal pile and over time those lit coals will slowly ignite the other coals touching them. That way I can get a very long burn. A ¾ bag of charcoal for me burns from 9pm till about 2pm the next day. I cook and entire contest on a ¾ bag of charcoal.
MEAT ME: Without having to add more charcoal?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: You fill the charcoal ring with about 15 or 20 lit briquettes in the middle and that burns out from the middle over the next 18 hours. I also have an insulating blanket that I use that also helps preserve the fuel.
*One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is not letting your brisket rest. Harry shares the importance of letting your brisket rest.
MEAT ME: When do you add the wood chunks?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: You add the wood chunks when you add the briquettes. You scatter them around I only use 4 apple and four hickory.
MEAT ME: Do you wet them?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: You don’t need to wet them. When you soak wood for 2 weeks and you hack it with a hack saw the middle is dry so there is no need to wet the wood. Liquid will only permeate wood chips. I add them all at once and slowly let them smolder. I will do this all over again for tonight.
MEAT ME: So what are the secrets to winning a barbecue contest?
Slap Yo’ Daddy: The secret is to cook extra ordinary, ordinary barbecue. It is kind of like when you cook the best mac n’cheese in the world it has to be something familiar so that when someone eats it they know it is macaroni and cheese but it is extra ordinary that it blows their mind. Judges will only take one bite of food. If you do not blow them away with an exploding mini symphony of flavors in their mouth you won’t win. You have to have the “IT” factor and that is what everybody is trying to do here: so that the one bite transports you into a state of “hog heaven”.
That’s why this is a great sport, it is just like golf. You can play golf on the same course everyday and everyday it’s a different game. BBQ is the same thing. You can cook a set of ribs every weekend and it is going to come out very different every time. The challenge of this sport is creating food and reaching its’ highest possible potential giving the prevailing conditions that is what makes it so fun.
I would like to thank Harry for time and sharing with me his love for the art of BBQ. Harry finished 1st in chicken, 9th in ribs, 4th in Pork, and 3rd in Brisket. He came in 3rd overall on the first day. You can find those results here: http://www.kcbs.us/events.php?year=2012&month=6&id=3542
On the second day Harry came in 4th in chicken, 10th in Ribs, 4th in Pork, and 9th in Brisket and 4th overall. You can find all of those results here: http://www.kcbs.us/events.php?year=2012&month=6&id=3541
You can check out more of Slap Yo' Daddy on his blog at: http://www.slapyodaddybbq.com/
Written and Photographed by Sean Rice, Edited by Aaron Black (Meat Inc.).
aka Sean Rice