Grill Master Randy Watson

smoking a brisket on a kamado grill
  • Grill Master Randy Watson
  • Meet Randy Watson

    "When I wasn’t sizzling steaks at one of the nicest restaurants on the block, I was always stepping out of my comfort zone with a new adventure or a new style. Try to do something you’ve never done before every day, right? "

Our Bearded BBQ Bestie

Some around here say Randy was born to be our resident Grill Master. It’s not the beard or the ponytail (those definitely help him look the part) — he’s a natural because of his deep passion for cooking and entertaining, which is rooted in a childhood spent helping his parents around the kitchen. Randy’s father in particular frequently grilled for the whole family and anyone else who’d drop by, teaching his son lessons along the way that would one day help him earn the title of BBQGuys Grill Master.

Before reaching that rank, though, Randy spent 15 years honing his grill skills at some of the best restaurants in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He rose all the way to Head Steak Chef at high-end eatery Ruffino’s, a distinction our bearded barbecue boss held for 5 of his 7 years at the restaurant. But Randy’s repertoire includes far more than searing sirloins — there’s an art to what he does, an eye for presentation that he further cultivated over 3 years with Whole Foods preparing meals that looked as good as they tasted.

Yet Randy always gravitated toward the grill, which in 2015 led him to BBQGuys as a member of our customer service team. His friendly demeanor and wealth of product knowledge made him a natural fit for that role… until we realized there was a better one for him. In early 2017, Randy officially joined our team of experts and took on the well-deserved title of Grill Master.

Now he spends his time cooking on every kind of grill we carry, both for overview videos and recipes that shine a light on his BBQ brilliance. When it’s a cook day, you can be sure Randy is bringing a plate of whatever he grilled around the office to brighten everyone’s afternoon. His background in grilling is one thing, and we suspect that magnificent beard lends him at least some power over meat, but Randy’s inclusive attitude that embodies the heart of BBQGuys’ mission might be what truly qualifies him to be our Grill Master.

Popular Recipes From Grill Master Randy

Born to Grill™ With Grill Master Randy

This one memory always stands out to me — a family reunion. Picture this: scrawny little old teenage me. While my cousin’s splitting logs, I’ve got this wood fire going, right? So, there I am, standing with a big steel paddle over a cauldron. And, because there’s no better place for truly great grub than when you’re surrounded by family, I’m using that paddle to stir around the biggest, baddest, South-iest mountain of jambalaya from scratch. For the record? That jambalaya was bomb.

I've worked a lot of grills in a lot of prestigious places. Cooked the showcase food at Whole Foods, put 5 years as head steak chef at Ruffino’s, even tried my hand at bartending for half my 20s (little place called The Cove — if you’ve sipped in the South, especially Louisiana, you know the name). One time I loaded, built, and worked what must’ve been a couple-hundred-pound gas grill on the back of this nice yacht. I was grilling steaks, kebabs, swordfish, lobster tail… the whole package, like, all day. You should’ve seen the looks on all those other faces! Pure awe. They should’ve come bye to say hi. We had plenty to share!

Back before all that, I got to see a lot of the South. My folks were in the construction business and, well, since Dad was the cook in our tribe, we went everywhere and tasted everything. When I say “everything,” I mean it. I never lost that rich, early sense and love for culture, and hey... culture you can eat? That sits just fine with me. That’s probably why I knew there’s only so much culture in cooking on fancy gas grills. All my free time was spent dabbling with charcoal, smoke, wood… man, all of it. When I wasn’t sizzling steaks at one of the nicest restaurants on the block, I was always stepping out of my comfort zone with a new adventure or a new style. Try to do something you’ve never done before every day, right? The day somebody figures out a sky-diving kamado, sign me right up. Day one, I’m there.

Q & A With Grill Master Randy

What BBQ flavors really drive your tastebuds wild?

Man, that’s gotta be the holy trinity: salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Get those three together, and you really can’t go wrong. Can’t think of any meat that wouldn’t work for. Maybe I’m nostalgic, though. It stirs up a lot of great childhood memories for me — like helping my uncle harvest rabbits. Whatever the game was that day, it went in the bowl of trinity seasoning, then straight into the pan. For me, it doesn’t get more classic.

Could you tell us about your earliest food memory?

Well, when I was real young — maybe 9 or 10 — my older brother and me were often home alone while the folks worked full-time. Being the youngest in the family, but entrusted to do the cooking? Oh, that felt good. Real good. We’re talking a lot of scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches, but that feeling of creating in a kitchen just never went away.

Let’s say you’re cooking to impress. What’s your favorite BBQ dish?

Oh, I always had an affinity for grilled shrimp. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of about 20 different ways you can grill those. And I cook up a mean steak, so now I’m thinking... surf ‘n turf. That’s kind of what I’ve shined on. Now, it’s not flashy, but I execute that very well. Combine that with a good herbal butter made ahead of time for that steak? There’s my talking showstopper dish.

Everyone’s got their go-to grilling style. What’s yours?

Charcoal, in a heartbeat. For all the reasons you’d think, too. I just love the process behind it all — being outside, starting a fire, smelling that fire... and then there’s that raw charcoal flavor. It just screams backyard BBQ flavor. And the way I come at it isn’t about looking at it, plated on a table. It’s making it. Barbecue isn’t a noun to me. It’s a verb. It’s transformation and creation. And nothing gives me that feeling like cooking on charcoal.

What’s your favorite style of BBQ?

You know, I really dig the Carolina style, due to its flavor profile. It’s kind of a vinegary, mustardy type — real bold flavor. And honestly, it speaks to everything that I like: old, traditional, and wood. Makes me think back to that Carolina gold stack sandwich recipe I filmed here at BBQGuys. Charcoal, wood, vinegar, pulled pork, and bold... That single recipe was centered around all the things I really love about BBQ. Gotta love it!

If you had to pick one BBQ meat to live without, which would it be?

Dang, that’s a tough one! Hmm. Well... I guess I’d say seafood. Which — I mean, that’s kinda embarrassing to say, coming from the South. But you know, I just love my heavy proteins too much to part with ‘em. Beef, pork, and chicken — those are the ones I can’t stand not eating again. The turf proteins, gotta keep them. If you’re twisting my arm, keep the turf, lose the surf.