Intensity Academy’s Chai Chipotle Hot Sauce


Hey folks it’s time for installment number two in my review series of the Intensity Academy line of products.  If you missed last week’s review and want the full story on how this series came to be check our my review of their Garlic Goodness sauce.  Don’t worry this week’s review will be much more concise and to the point since I won’t be retelling the full back story of me meeting Tom Was at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival.


On my way out the door I threw Intensity Academy’s Chai Chipotle Hot Sauce in my backpack since I was taking some pulled pork sandwiches to work for lunch.  I wanted something that would complement the pulled pork and completely overrun it with heat.  I figured based on the name “Chai Chipotle” that I would be fairly safe on the heat front.

The first interesting thing I noticed about this sauce was right there on the label above the name “All Natural Carrot Based Hot Sauce.”  Now being a bit new to the hot sauce world I knew that some hot sauces use carrots for a sweetener and for color, but I thought it was interesting that this sauce was celebrating the carrot so to speak.

Before I knew it, it was lunch time and time to break the seal on the bottle and get down to business.  As always I started with the sniff test.  The first thing you get is definitely a full bodied note of carrots.  It’s almost a fruity note.  It smells very fresh if not refreshing.  There is some vinegar there, but its a light back drop vice being in the forefront.

2013-03-04 11.09.02

Next came the plate test and the finger taste test.  Chai Chipotle is neither what I would consider thick nor would I call it thin.  It definitely has some pureed carrots and a few flecks of habanero in there.  It’s a fairly tame and non complicated looking sauce.  If anything it’s lighter color and lack of variation is the story.  This sauce is what it portends to be, a carrot based hot sauce.

For the initial taste test I put a fair amount on my finger and gave it the ole college try.  At first you get hit by habaneros which kind of surprised me because given the name I was expecting that smokey mellow heat of the chipotles up front.  Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t call this sauce hot, because it’s not.  In fact I would only give it a rating of about 1.75 to 2 on my heat scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being too hot for me to enjoy.  This sauce has some heat and the habanero and chipotle are both there, but they are not searing or unpleasant in anyway.  The surprise for me was more from my preconceived notion of what I thought I would taste heat wise. This of course caused me to grab the bottle and check the ingredients list.  Sure enough chipotle is towards the middle of the list versus at the top of heap, which explains its background note instead of the foreground spotlight.

2013-03-04 11.06.06

As for what else I tasted you definitely get carrots.  A very nice fragrant and fruity full bodied carrot sweet flavor is front and center.  It is followed up with the chipotle smokiness that adds to the body.  And just when you start wondering where the Chai flavor is, you get it right there as part of the ending body note.

2013-03-04 11.14.35By this time I was hungry and it was time to load some on my sandwich and see how Chai Chipotle was on something better than my finger.  As you can see from the picture I did not hold back or shy away.  I wasn’t afraid of the heat element of Chai Chipotle at all.  This sauce is much more about flavor than heat.  I will admit that by the end of the second sammich (that’s right sammich, not sandwich… that’s how we roll here in the South) I was sniffling a tiny bit.  The sauce added a nice body to the pulled pork but in no way over powered it.  The smoke was not over shadowed by the vinegar tang or the heat in anyway.  While I am thinking of it one other surprising thing about this sauce is how much of a background note the vinegar is in Chai Chipotle.  I am so used to most sauces being nothing but peppers, vinegar and water that when that is not the overall flavor make up of a sauce it catches me off guard a bit.  Part of me thinks perhaps the sauce could have a bit more vinegar kick, but this sauce would be PERFECT for someone who doesn’t like that hyper vinegar hit that most hot sauces have as their predominant element.

The following morning I was eating a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich that consisted of a sausage patty and egg whites on a croissant.  As soon as I took the first bite I thought “hmm I bet this would be better with some of that Chai Chipotle sauce on it.”  So I tried it.  And sure enough it was PERFECT.  Great flavor and just a touch of heat.  That is my problem with some hot sauces I use for breakfast they are just too strong for me in the mornings and my tongue just isn’t ready for them more times than not.

So what’s the final verdict?  Well, it’s another solid offering from Intensity Academy.  Not a thing wrong with this sauce.  It might not be my personal “go to” sauce to put on everything, but I can see why it would be for other people and it will be on my breakfast table from here forward.  It’s a unique sauce in that it strives to be a right down the middle honest offering.  Not too hot, solid fruity sweetness with full bodied flavors and a nice medium consistency.  If you are looking for a non offensive sauce to perhaps start someone on their path to becoming a chilehead, Chai Chipotle could very well be that gateway drug you are looking for.

Until next time folks….Love, Peace and Pork Grease!


The Art of the Reverse Sear.


Some times you try new cooking techniques because you want to make something better, or easier than before.  Some times you do things out of necessity.  Rarely do both occur on the same attempt.  Last weekend my local grocery store, had Hereford Tri-Tip roasts and Duroc pork shoulders on sale for 50% off of regular price. This sale made the Tri-Tips $3.55 per lb (usually $7-8) and the shoulders $1.55 (usually over $3) per pound.  Unheard of prices for these 2 items.  I purchased about $200 worth of meat for $100.  I had the desire to cook a Tri-Tip that night as I had not cooked one all winter.  I have 2 sons with activities on the weekends and I really did not have time to tend a grill for 30 minutes to a hour and cook this wonderful piece of meat.  I thought this would be a great chance to try out reverse searing this steak.  I had heard of the reverse sear before and knew that a Tri-Tip would be the perfect cut of meat to use this technique on.  I scoured the web for about 15 minutes and found some information  on how to do the reverse sear with a Tri-Tip and I was ready to go.

Seasoned Tri-Tip on the smoker.

Seasoned Tri-Tip on the smoker.

My son and I trimmed and seasoned the Tri-Tip.  Nothing 2 complicated.  It consisted of garlic salt, Western Sizzle steak seasoning and a BBQ rub that I will have a review on in a couple of weeks.  I prepped the pellet cooker, set the temp for 275 degrees and I was ready to start cooking.  I placed my thermometer probe in the thickest side of the meat.  I wanted to reach an internal temperature of 130 degrees before I moved it over to the propane grill to finish it off.  Once on the pellet grill, I left it in the hands of my wife to watch while my sonsand I ran an errand.  The thermometer was set to sound and alarm at 120 and my wife called me home when it went off after about 45 minutes.  When I arrived back home the steak was at 132 degrees and I moved it to my propane grill to finish off.  After grilling (searing) for 15 to 20 minutes more the Tri-Tip was at the desired temp of 145 degrees.  I took it off and waited for it to rest for 15 more minutes to slice it.

Reverse seared Tri-Tip ready for slicing.

Reverse seared Tri-Tip ready for slicing.

Now that I have told my story let me explain want a reverse sear is.  Normally when grilling you sear first and lock in the juices and form a crust on the meat then you cook the meat indirectly until you reach your desired temperature.  With reverse searing, you indirect cook first until the meat reaches a desired temp then you sear at the end to for a crust and finish the meat off.  What I got when I reversed seared was a tenderer steak, a juicier steak and a steak that had more flavor because I was allowed to add smoke into the cooking process.  My meat had a more uniform temperature throughout giving it uniform color except at the ends where it was slightly less rare.  Here is an infographic to explain.

If you added a smoke ring to the example on the right, this is what my steak looked like.

If you added a red smoke ring to the example on the right, this is what my steak looked like.

The reverse sear is not a hard technique to learn or accomplish.  Cook low and slow first the finish hot and fast.  If you watch your temps close nothing will go wrong and you will be rewarded with the juiciest, most flavorful Tri-Tip you have ever eaten.



Gargantuan Garlic Greatness in a Bottle


Every so often I come across a product that I think “nice idea, but I bet the final delivery is lacking.”  That happens to me a lot especially with hot sauces and rubs.  Everyone is trying so hard to just put out products that so many times the final delivery is something muddled and less than awesome.  This phenomenon evidently does not affect the fine folks at Intensity Academy.

I was first introduced to their line at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival in September, but more importantly I met Tom Was co-founder and co-creator of this line of products.  Tom told me how he and his amazing wife Michele started Intensity Academy as a part of their love for all things spicy.  I sampled a couple of products and quickly nabbed a couple of hot sauces (Hot Squared and Hot Cubed) and some of their Chai Thai Teriyaki.  Unfortunately I only had a couple of minutes to sample just a few products before having to run back to our tent since we were cooking ribs for the rib cook off we were competing in for Chile Pepper Magazine.

Later that night I was blessed with getting to sit down and really talk business with Tom and Tracy Carter (JAC’s Tailgaters) and some of their friends.  It was there that I really got to understand more about Intensity Academy.  If Tom, Michele and crew were a recipe for success in a cook book it would read:

  • 4 parts Passion
  • 3 parts No Comprised Ingredients
  • 2 parts Commitment
  • 1 part Perseverance
  • Combined for a perfect 10 of flavor

This recipe is the same one followed by every sauce, rub and bbq company I know of that are doing it right.  Tom and Michele really have crafted, what is in my opinion, one of the most comprehensive and different line of products available out there today.

Fast forward a couple of months to mid January, I was rifling through my cabinet and literally “clanked” into a bottle and looked to see what it was to find it was that bottle of Chai Thai Teriyaki that I bought back in Houston.  I was making some ribs and thought to myself “hmm I bet I could make some pretty bangin’ ribs with that.”  So I raided the pantry and pulled out some ingredients to make an impromptu rub with Asian flair to complement the Teriyaki.  Long story short those ribs were the hit of the night.  They got as much rave review as the Angus ribeye’s I did and that is saying something because those were some of the best steaks I had ever cooked….ever.  They were so good I dreamt about them that night and got up at 2 in the morning to raid the fridge for a couple of those ribs.  They were GOOD.  Stay tuned for more on those ribs in a minute.

Fast forward again about a month and Scott Roberts, blogger extraordinaire of asked me to do an interview with him as part of his Weekly Firecast Series.  I agreed and during the interview happened to mention some of personal favorite products that included Intensity Academy and JAC’s Tailgaters.    Tom happened to listen to this podcast and messaged me on Facebook wanting the recipe to the ribs.  I told him I would have to order more of the Chai Thai Teriyaki so I could formally write it up since I winged it and wanted to do it write if he was going to publish it.  I was planning on ordering more of IA’s products anyway since I had been really wanting to try some of their Chai Chipotle ‘Chup and Green Tea Gourmet ever since I saw them in Houston.

Well yesterday I get home to find a HUGE box sitting on my doorstep.  I was really taken back by it because I didn’t remember ordering anything that would be in a box that size.  So I glanced at the label and saw it was from Tampa, so I knew it had to be from Tom.  I wasted no time in ripping into it like a fat kid into a box Duncan doughnuts.  I found bottle after bottle of awesomeness and thought to myself that I might as well do a full review series of the product line since, well…I had pretty much the whole line right there.

2013-02-22 18.01.43

Being a Friday night it happened to be pizza night at our house.  Mike and Debra brought over some thin crust pie from one of more favorite joints, J. Bella’s.  As I was putting up the bounty of bottles from IA I spied with my little eye the bottle of Garlic Goodness and thought, “I bet that would work on pizza so let’s give a try.”  I was a little bit apprehensive I must admit.  Garlic is not one of my favorite flavors.  I am pretty sensitive to it and can pick it out a mile away typically and I personally think that it get’s used with a bit of a heavy hand by most.  Then I remember Tom mentioning something about there being like 100lbs of garlic in every 50gal batch of this sauce.  So now I was flat out worried that I would not like it, but knew I just had to try it because where others fail someone has to succeed and if anyone could pull it off Tom and Michele hopefully could.

2013-02-23 09.18.32

So I uncapped the bottle and give the sniff test.  All I can say is HOOOOOOOOOOOOLY COW the garlic was so stout smelling that it took my breath.  This stuff is so stout I swear you could just wave some french bread over the bottle and have instant garlic bread lol!  It is strong, it is pungent, it is GARLIC.  You can smell every ounce of the 100lbs of garlic they use in each batch.  It so fresh smelling it’s almost dumbfounding.  So then a small voice in the back of my head whispered “oh yeah fat boy I bet this gives you some wicked heartburn later.”  Irregardless I had to try it.  I just had to know did this taste of dark, murky, dank garlic or did IA manage some sort of culinary miracle and balance this into a great sauce?

2013-02-23 09.17.48

Next came the plate test.  So I poured a nice glob on a white paper plate.  A couple of things hit you right off.  Firstly the chunks of garlic in there.  Second is that this sauce has a enough body not to ooze all over the plate.  It expanded a little bit but held the shape you see in the picture.  The last thing you notice is what is not as over the top…the intense garlic smell.  Out of the bottle the garlic smell is tamed, it is not shocking, it becomes instead pleasant.  It smells like you chopped up a fresh clove only it smells even better.  If you keep sniffing you can pick up on the vinegar that is in the sauce.  Once I smelled this I had to check the label because it wasn’t just plain old vinegar it had something else going on.

2013-02-23 09.19.26Yup, it was Red Wine Vinegar, my personal favorite vinegar next to balsamic vinegar.  The ingredients on the list are as straight forward as they come.  Nothing you can’t spell, nothing unnatural.

Now came the time of reckoning….the taste test.  As always I started with it raw on my finger.  No, its not as sanitary or “pure” as tasting from a spoon, but I’m not a hot sauce purist, I’m a realist.  I’m real in that I don’t like hot for hot’s sake.  I NEVER like heat without flavor and you will never hear me say “the hotter the better” unless we are talking about swim suit models.  With the sauce raw on my finger I got an immediate garlic hit and it was a very solid hit, but not in any way dark or murky as I thought it might be.  The red wine vinegar does something amazing with this sauce, it allows the garlic to be pungent without being over powering.  It is the horn section to the garlic’s p-funk base line…it is the yin to the garlic’s yang.  Next you get hit with this sense of freshness and then finally some heat.  That freshness note I am betting is from the mix of the red bell pepper, onion and vinegar again.  It really makes the sauce have this lighter note in the middle which is great.  The heat is all habanero and black pepper.  On a heat scale I would say this is about a 3.2 on my scale of 5.  5 being too hot for me.  This is a solid heat that bites quickly and dissipates almost as quickly.  Overall this sauce is surprisingly good, even for someone who admittedly isn’t overly fond of garlic.

Finally was the food test on cheese pizza.  I loaded a fair amount on my slice and man oh man it was good.  It was VERY garlic but it was refreshing and unexpected.  I didn’t really any intense “heat” notes when I added it to the pizza.  So the heat while definitely present when tasted alone, tempers very nicely when added to food.

So where would I use this sauce?  Granted I have only tried Garlic Goodness on pizza so far but I can see this being a staple around my house.  I could see reworking something like 40 Clove Chicken with it or doing some over the top garlic bread by mixing the sauce with some butter.  It could easily be added to ANY soup that calls for garlic.  It would go a very long way on virtually any seafood.  That hit of garlic with a touch of vinegar would be a welcome addition in something like Shrimp Scampi (great recipe that Michele did).  You could very easily make a garlic aioli by replacing the garlic with this sauce and adjusting the amount of lemon juice to compensate for the red wine vinegar.  This sauce would be right at home in pretty much any adobo recipe.  Something like Garlic Chicken Adobo would be greatly helped out with Garlic Goodness.  This sauce in short is at home in ANY recipe that calls for minced garlic.  I plan on amping up some stir fry and some Italian dishes we are cooking this next week.

I can’t say enough how impressed I am by the entire Intensity Academy line, but also Tom and Michele as people and business owners.  Each product is a jewel on it’s own and needs to be tried.  So hit up their site or drop Tom and Michele a note on Facebook and tell them Shane at Draper’s BBQ sent you and you are ready to take some classes at the Academy.

Love, Peace and Pork Grease folks….until next time.


Ranking the BBQ Meats


pig parts

I visit many internet sites during the day and one of my favorites is Deadspin.  It is basically a sports website for people with little time to read or short attention spans.  They throw some humor in there as well and break stories about imaginary girlfriends and stuff like that.  Last week Deadspin had an article which ranked the best flavors of doughnuts.  It is not sports related, but I am a fan of doughnuts so I read to find out  if my favorite was near the top.  Vital information that I could not live without.  Little did I know that if this article was a BBQ contest I would be ostrasized for shiggin.  Yeah I am stealing the idea ( thanks Drew Magary ) and writing my own article ranking the BBQ meats.  I will list the meat first then give my reasoning as to why it is superior to the meats beneath it.

1.  Burnt Ends  (Brisket point)- This is my favorite thing to order at any BBQ restaurant.  I am from KC what do you expect.  Tiny little fatty morsels of beefy goodness.  If they were smaller I would swear this is what the fairies used for fairy dust. They are sooooo good.  Smothered in sauce with extra bark.  You just can’t beat them.

2. Brisket  (flat) –  If burnt ends were Miss America then brisket is a close runner up.  When done right it is better than prime rib to me.  The fat just melts in your mouth like butter.  Most people will have a brisket sandwich.  My question is,  Why do you need the bread?

3.  Spare Ribs (St Louis Cut) –  I specify the St. Louis cut because I do not like eating the rib tips.  Too much work for me.  I like the extra flavor these ribs provide in comparison to the baby back ribs.  Ribs are very versatile.  You can have them from spicy to sweet and they are always good.

4.  Turkey –  I already hear the gasps from the audience.  Yes smoked turkey.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I could eat turkey any day of the year.  Brine it, inject it, rub it and smoke it.  Always good.

5.  Pork Shoulder (Boston Butt) –  I had never had pulled pork till about 6 years ago.  My mom always called it a pork roast and roasted it in the oven seasoned with salt, pepper and caraway seeds.  Served with dumplings and brown pork gravy.  Wow it was good!  When I made my first shoulder I was amazed how much more flavor this cut of meat had when cooked in a smoker.  This cut of meat is literally a sponge for flavor.

6.  Pork Belly/Bacon –  Now this ranks this high on the list because of one thing BACON!  When I was five years old,  I ate a whole pound of bacon for lunch while my mom was visiting with my dad and his golfing buddy.  Kind of a badge of honor I think.  I have never had the rest of the belly, but hope to remedy that soon.

7.  Tri-Tip –  This is a nod to all my California buddies I met at the American Royal last fall.  This piece of meat is rapidly gaining popularity across the US.  It tastes like the best steak at about half the price.  My thanks to El Fuego Fiasco BBQ Team for the Santa Maria spice.  I have not forgotten that I owe you some Drapers AP Rub.

8.  Babyback Ribs – See spare ribs above.  These little guys have just a little less flavor than spares or they would be higher on the list.


9.  Beef Ribs – Like brisket on a stick.  They are juicy and delicious and we fight over them at Christmas after the prime rib is carved.  Smoked on the BBQ they are even better.

10.  Chicken –  White meat or dark meat everyone loves chicken.  The trick is to keep it moist and get some flavor into that meat.  It rounds out the top 10.

11.  Pork Loin –  Living high on the hog as they say.  You can roast it whole or divide into chops.  Stuff it with apples or wrap it in bacon this makes a great dinner.

12.  Ham –  Most BBQ joints around KC do not cook a whole bone in ham.  They cook the processed ham loaf that you can get in any grocery store deli around town.  The process of making your own ham is very long.  It takes weeks and even months to get the ham cured and smoked.   That being said, it would be nice to have bone in smoked ham at a local BBQ restaurant.

13.  Pork Picnic –  Incomplete.  I have never had a pork picnic.  Hopefully some day I will travel down south and have some but until then we will have to rate it an incomplete.

Now, this list is not all encompassing.  I intentionally left off sausage and went with the cuts of meat vs combined elements of sausage.  If I had put it on the list,  it would have been pretty high on the list.  It is not good for me and I love it.  This is my opinion only and does not represent the views of Drapers BBQ ( with the exception of leaving mutton off the list).  You know what opinions are like…everyone’s got one.  So give them to me.  This post is meant to start a discussion.  Please post at the bottom of the article and tell me why you agree or disagree with me.  Use our new share buttons and get your friends to sound off on the subject or post it to your favorite Facebook group.  Lets discuss this cause I am sure pork picnic is too good to be left in the south and burnt ends are too good to be left to KC.


Getting Ready for The American Royal BBQ Contest


As September turns to October in Kansas City, we all start to get ready for The American Royal.  The American Royal is many things.  It is a parade, a BBQ contest, livestock show, a rodeo and a series of concerts containing some up and coming music acts.  The American Royal is Kansas City’s biggest showcase event.  The BBQ contest which contains both an invitational contest for this years Grand Champion BBQ contest winners and an open contest that anyone can enter. All of these events help raise money for charity and scholarships for future college students.  It all adds up to one heck of a weekend in Kansas City.

This year I will have the pleasure of covering some of the events happening at The American Royal this year for Draper’s BBQ.  I will be roaming around the grounds meeting all my Twitter/Facebook friends for the first time.  Hopefully sampling some of what they have turned in and sharing a beverage or 2 with them.  I will also be on hand as an episode of Season 4 of BBQ Pitmasters is taped in Kansas City.  KC’s own Rod Gray of Pellet Envy fame will be the heavy hitter on the show challenged by 2 other local cooks.  It should make for some must see TV.  Saturday night the first ever BBQ Hall of Fame ceremony will be held and Johnny Trigg, Guy Fieri and Henry Ford (inventor if the charcoal briquette) will be inducted into the BBQ Hall of Fame.  Friday is always party night at The Royal.  It has been estimated that 100,000 to 150,000 people will flock to The Royal for multiple parties that go well into the night.  There is even an award for the best party of the year.  I usually tend stay away from thisnight as traffic is terrible (they usually have to close the streets around the area by 7pm) and some people tend to overindulge, if you know what I mean.  A lot of the serious BBQ teams stay away from this as well and are placed in a separate section of the parking lot.  Some of the lesser known activities at The American Royal are The Kids Q contest called the Junior World Series of BBQ, Best Sauce contest, and a Texas Hold’em tournament.  All of these events make for a really fun week in Kansas City.

I would love to meet any Draper’s BBQ fans and sponsored teams while you are in town for the Royal.  Follow me on Twitter, my handle is @qsyourdaddy and either send me a tweet or if I follow you back DM me where you are and we can meet up.







Changes To Draper’s BBQ


It is with a heavy heart I have to take the following action, but in all things sometimes “a man has gotta do what a man has gotta do.”  For the last 7 months I have been the host of Gettin’ Sauced Radio on the BBQ Superstars network.  It has been both an honor and a privilege.

Hosting this show while, fun and rewarding, has taken toll on my personal life.  That much I can handle.  It was not until about a month ago that I realized just how much of a toll it has taken on my family’s life.  That I am ashamed to say is completely my fault for doing as I always do with new projects, jumping in unapologetically with both feet and letting the chips fall where they may.  I have lived my whole life this way and well to be honest it has been my wife for the past 14yrs that has had to pick up the pieces.  So in what may be too little too late I am putting forth the effort to spend some resemblance of quality time with my wife and my two sons.

The travel, the constant work on both sides of the clock and disregard for family as of this moment will be limited.  I do all that I do not for fame or fortune, but in a mostly feeble attempt to leave a legacy for my sons and to give my wife all that she truly deserves for putting up with me.  I have no problem working 20hrs days for weeks on end.  I have no problem going without sleep.  I have no problem giving all I have to give, digging down and giving some more.  I do have a problem though and it is a failing marriage and me not spending enough time with those that I am working so hard for.  In short my severe commitment to the legacy I am trying to build has hurt those I am desperately trying to build it for.  I have to stop and revamp what it is I do, how much I do and when I do it.

So in doing that the first thing I have to let go of is the radio show.  I thank Darryl Mast from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity and I thank every sponsor that I promoted and I thank every person who ever gave my show a listen.

I do not know if or when the show will return or in what format.  I do know however that I love helping people get their products to market and I will do that as much as I can, but I love my wife and children more and they deserve my focus until we can figure out what the future holds for all of us.

Thank you all again very much for everything and please support whatever show ends up taking my time slot on Wednesday nights.  For those that companies that sponsored the show please consider picking another show on the BBQ Superstars network and sponsoring them with your advertising dollars.  They are all worthy shows and deserve the opportunity to earn your business.
Best to all and God bless,

Shane Draper
Gettin’ Sauced Radio
CEO Draper’s BBQ


BBQ Bonding by Wes Jurena


One of the things that has kept me participating in what is a very expensive hobby with only limited success, has been the people. 90% of the people I’ve met who have a passion for food, especially BBQ are just overall great folks. Mike and Shane of DBQ are no exception.
I’ve been following DBQ on Twitter for some time now and they are also a spice and sauce sponsor for my competition team, Pappa Charlies BBQ.  We’ve chatted, emailed, phoned and DM’ed but never met in person. So, when I found out they were going to be in my hometown for a rib challenge I knew I had to be there.
We linked up the first time on Friday, the day prior to the event. They were committed to some press events for the show but had time for lunch so I treated them to what Houston is famous for… TexMex.  Now, I know you were thinking I was going to say BBQ but two things come into play here, 1. When your cooking almost every weekend, that is almost the last thing you want to dine on and 2. While the rest of the state does it very well, I will say the Que in Houston is well, just not that good.  We met at my local joint and chatted like we had known each other for years.
Saturday rolled around and my wife and I headed over to the Houston Hot Sauce Festival which was pretty close to my house.  For those who have never been here, Houston is big city and I was lucky enough to have this nearby so the commute was easy.  I had heard the festival was growing but I was surprised at the line to get in the gate.  It stretched around the corner and was about 50 people deep!
We followed the smell of smoke and made our way to the “line up” of cookers. Mike and Shane were knee deep into “Peoples Choice” which was one of 3 cooks they actually had to do that day.  I hung around their EZ up for a while, mooched a beer or two but tried to stay out of there way.  The line for this was even longer than the line to get in. During this time the wife and I tried some of the Hot Sauces and Salsas.  I must say, I like spicy food but some of it was obnoxiously hot!  Which of course meant a trip to the beer stand, or perhaps two. We did find a great local salsa and purchased a few bottles of that.
Corporate America had moved me to Phoenix a few years back and that’s where I started my competition Que career. So, I knew another team there Vince and Alexa of Rhythm N Que, so we bounced back and forth between DBQ and their tent.  That’s the thing, for us cookers, that could have been any competition anywhere.. its smoky and your under an EZ UP.  Could have been Arizona or Kentucky but in this case it was Texas and the BBQ Bonding was taking place.  I guarantee that if someone had left something at home, someone out there would have provided it for them.  It is the one thing that probably keeps me coming back more than anything else.
Though I will say, DBQ was right next to one of the 10% who can’t seem to quit babbling about how good their products are and how everyone uses and loves their stuff.  Sadly, the won people’s choice, but I’m out here cooking in Texas pretty regular and I’ve never seen nor heard of their product and I won’t seek it out if that’s the image the project at a very public event.
DBQ was gearing up to feed all the vendors for dinner so we had to go.  Shane loaded me up with products for my upcoming cooks and I said goodbye. They know if they are ever here again and want to compete, I’ll help them with whatever it is they need. While I have not verified this through them, I’m confident that if I went to Kentucky, I could show up with nothing more than a sharp knife and they would help me procure what I needed to compete with. Good stuff all the way around.
You can follow us on Twitter @pappacharlies or on the web at
See you in the Smoke!


Houston: The Fan Perspective


Hey folks, I asked our new friend Chad Dodge of Dodge’s BBQ to take a minute and write about his experiences with us at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival.  Check out what he had to say and go follow his Twitter and Facebook accounts (linked above).


Social networking used to scare me a little. However, I did recently join twitter, and found out what a blessing it is. Just like most people, I spent the first few days following
people/companies/organizations who shared in the same interests as me.  Two of those first ones, were Scott Roberts and Shane Draper. I was excited to find out through Scott, there was a hot sauce festival in Houston the following week. My oldest daughter and I have a lot in common (Daddy’s girl), and our love of spicy food is one. To quote her:
“We are so there, dad!”  Another bond we share is BBQ. I’ve enjoyed smoking & grilling for years around the home, and she is definitely my number 1 fan. I find out the next day, that Drapers BBQ is competing in a 6-team rib cook off…at the same festival, and Shane tells me to swing by and say hello. I know, right?! Why am I so excited you ask?  Well, BBQ is a passion…and those cooks who compete, have restaurants/food trucks, and cater, are who I look up to. The hardest part was not coming across as a complete tool. 😉

Before I run through our Saturday there, I want to say thank you to all of the sponsors, who made it a fun and unforgettable day. The workers/volunteers were all helpful, the prices for everything were reasonable, and the wide variety of vendors was a plus. All for a good
cause too..the Snowdrop Foundation. Kudos, my friends.

Nothing against the hot sauce sampling, but we made a beeline for the DBQ logo, that I recognized from their website. I waited for Mike to finish explaining the ins and outs of their sauce and rubs to a patron, and then introduced myself. Both he and Shane were very
polite, offered up some samples, and welcomed us into their hospitality suite/tent. We accepted of course, and moved in for a front row seat to the action. I was introduced to Randy, a local cook who had helped DBQ with a pit for that weekend. I asked questions, and listened, as if there were a test at the end. Any nerves I had from being at a cook-off for the first time, were laid to rest quickly, by the “good ol’ boy” feel to the conversation. I didn’t want to overstay our welcome, plus we had to get to the other festivities, so we headed out to get our burn on. We stopped at the the cheesecake on a stick place, so Brianna could get something dipped in chocolate. Dessert first, does happen occasionally. We made the rounds through the vendors, stopping to try their products. A few stuck out for different reasons, like Big Red’s, Volcanic Peppers, Stupid Hot Sauce, and especially the fiery dressed folks from Zane & Zack’s. We then stopped off for an iced lemonade and a water to squelch the flames, and to get a festival shirt for her to sport. When we made it back to the DBQ tent, it was close to turn in time. The guys were scurrying about, putting the finishing touches on their rib entry. I offered a hand, and they let me help Randy wrap the ribs for the people’s choice samples. The entries were whisked away, and everyone took a deep breath, and popped a top. They had to twist my arm pretty hard, but I eventually sampled the ribs. 😉 It was nothing short of perfect, and I could see the “OMG, I can’t let dad know how good these are!” look in my daughter’s eyes. We chatted BBQ a little more, and snapped a couple of photos, then said our thank yous & goodbyes. We made the trek by the other competitors, to say hello & good luck, took a couple more
pics for Brianna to share with her friends, and we were off to tell our adventure to the family.

Being able to mix dad time with hobbies and good people, made those
few hours on a September Saturday, a WIN-WIN. Thanks!!!


Ernie’s Chicken Cordon DBQ


This weeks recipe features Ernie Rupp’s take on Chicken Cordon Bleu.  Check it out and enjoy!  And as always be sure to keep an eye on our recipe section for more great recipes!

Chicken Cordon DBQ

Serves 6
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 45 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Appetizer, Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Snack, Starter
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
In Kansas City, my family and I go to a local resurant that serves this incredible appetizer called Royal Blue Balls. They are breaded deep fried chicken balls stuffed with ham and swiss cheese (mini chicken cordon blue). My youngest son likes them so much he has a whole appetizer for his dinner. I wanted to make a version at home that was not deep fried but still had the great flavor that we enjoy at the resurant. This is my BBQ version of Royal Blue Balls. I hope you enjoy it.


  • 1lb ground chcken breast
  • 1/4lb ham (finely chopped)
  • 3/4 cups swiss cheese (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Draper's AP Rub
  • 6 pieces thick sliced bacon (cut in half for 12 pieces)


Step 1
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well
Step 2
Mold mixture into golf ball sized balls (makes approximately 12 meat balls)
Step 3
Cut the bacon pieces in half
Step 4
Wrap the bacon around the meat ball and hold in place with a tooth pick
Step 5
cordon dbq 4
Foil a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Then place the meat balls on the sheet.
Step 6
Place in smoker on 250 degrees for the first 45 minutes then increase temp to 350 degrees until chicken is done (165 degrees and bacon is cooked). You may also cook in the oven if you do not want smoke flavor. Cook at 350 degrees until chicken is done and bacon is cooked,
Step 7
Remove meatballs from cooker and rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve with DBQ Smokin Sauce and ranch dressing.

Introducing Sean Bardwell of Tatoos N Que


If you don’t “like” him on Facebook or follow @SBQue on Twitter you may not recognize this pitmaster.  His name is Sean Bardwell and has a competition BBQ team called Tatoos N Que.  I have been following Sean for most of this year and have been really impressed by some of Sean’s creations.  He shows them regularly on Facebook and they all look very tasty.  I had the pleasure of talking to Sean about his recent activities while he was doing a practice cook for an upcoming contest last week.  Sean has big plans for the future and a game plan to get there.

Sean was raised on BBQ.  His best childhood memories were being with his father cooking on an old Weber kettle grill.  BBQ was a treat.  Sean spent summers in Arkansas with grandparents who also fed his BBQ cravings.  To this day, BBQ reminds him of his childhood.  Currently, Sean is kitchen manager of a chain restaurant called Smokey Bones in York, Pennsylvania and has held this position for 4 years. He started as a line cook and has worked his way up the ladder.  Sean wants to own his own BBQ restaurant one day and is working very hard to achieve that goal.  His goal for the next year is to get a food truck to be used for a catering business and to take on the competition circuit.

Sean has many BBQ idols.  He attended the NBBQA Convention in South Carolina last year and got to meet the likes of Ray Lampe, Chris Lilly and the person Sean states he owes the most to, Danielle Dimovski of DivaQ BBQ.  He stays in touch with Danielle via twitter and says she gives him a lot of advice.  He also credits ,Prince of Q, Jay Prince and Stephen Hartsock of Sock’s Love Rub with inspiring him as well.  At the MBBQA Convention, everyone told Sean that if he wants to open a restaurant he needs to first compete and get your name out there.  This inspired Sean and his Tattoos N Que BBQ team to enter the New Holland Summerfest BBQ contest last weekend.  Tattoos n Que competed against 72 other BBQ teams.  Tattoos N Que did not win any awards at New Holland but they did not finish last in any category they entered and met Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone.  Sean considers this a success.

Sean also has a variety of rubs for sale on his website,  His rubs come in Original flavor which is an all purpose rub, Savory which is used a lot on poultry, Sweet for ribs and pork and is developing one called Tattoos N Que which is a competition style rub.  All the ingredients used in Sean’s rubs are also smoked before they are combined.  This gives Sean’s food layers of smoke flavor.  I found this to be very interesting and I cant wait for the sample Sean is going to send me.  Sean also makes his competition sauce from scratch using all smoked ingredients.  He joked that he can never do anything simple.

If all of this was not enough, Sean has published his very own e-cookbook.  It contains 17 original recipes all created by Sean Bardwell.  It is a free cookbook so feel free to download it here .  When you get done with the cookbook you will ask yourself, ” Is there any food Sean won’t smoke?”

Sean has a passion for BBQ.  He shows this in all that he does.  From rub creator, cookbook author, competition cook and his daily job they are all examples of how dedicated Sean is to perfecting his craft.  Sean is a very goal driven individual and I have no doubt that he will leave his mark on the BBQ world.  Check out his website, order some rub and get that cookbook.  You will be glad you did.