Around the Grill: Get To Know BBQ Master Big Jim Stancil
Who is Big Jim Stancil?
If you love BBQ, there is a very good chance you have heard of Big Jim Stancil, or at least his company, Bare Knuckles BBQ, which was featured during season 3 of BBQ Pitmasters on Destination America. Big Jim is a full time corporate caterer with 2 Grand Championships and a slew of category wins under his belt, which means he likely cooks some of the meanest BBQ you have ever tasted in your life.
Below, check out a clip from Season 3 of BBQ Pitmasters with Big Jim Stancil cooking up some Tri-Tip for the judges.
Q&A with Big Jim Stancil of Bare Knuckles BBQ
1) How did you get your start in the BBQ industry?
We started off tailgating at the Falcons Home Games in the late 80s or early 90s. I saw BBQ contest on TV and decided I wanted to try it out and it just built up from there. After a pile of contests folks started asking me to come to their houses and business to cook for them. It just gained a lot of momentum and then I signed some corporate accounts. It was a an easy transition; I loved to cook and there it was, so I just went for it.
2) The BareKnuckles BBQ Competition Team was featured on Season 3 of BBQ Pitmasters; what was filming like and did you learn anything from being in front of the camera?
Yes, things aren't always what they seem. I was very comfortable during the filming. I have seen the crew since then and we all had a great time, except for the ending. As a competitor still stings a bit, but hey, who else gets to do this kind of stuff?
3) You are a part of a lot of BBQ competitions throughout the year; what is your favorite competition each year and why?
I love them all or I would stay home, but Dillard Bluegrass and BBQ Festival is our longest standing event. We have cooked that one every year since we started competing. Its just a laid back event in the North Georgia mountains. We all have the same sites and its like a family reunion at the end of the summer.
4) What is your favorite aspect of the BBQ competitions?
I love to compete. That being said; the friends and family aspect of our traveling family makes it all worth it. There are many folks out there doing what we do, everyone won't always get along but we are respectful of our neighbors and will do anything to help each other out!
5) You do a lot with Primo grills; what's your favorite thing about Primo grills & what sets them apart from other Kamado grills?
I think basically they are all very similar as ceramic cookers. However, the Primo XL and its oval shape allow you to do more with it. Ribs lay flat without cutting them down, larger cuts of meat can be placed on flat without trimming to fit. The grill will run itself; it's a set it and let it work grill.
6) Where do you come up with your BBQ recipes?
Lots of things we do are just trial and error. When you have flavor profiles and you just know what works, it's easy to ease off in a direction in a small way, but we usually end up back at our basic set up if you get too far off the path.
7) What makes a BBQ grill great? What features are you looking for in a grill?
Consistency. If you cant rely on constant and predictable temps and times you are not going to be successful.
8) Do you have any advice for someone looking to get involved in BBQ competitions?
Practice. Practice. Practice. It sounds simple but I really see this all the time - teams will get to the contest and try something brand new - sometimes it works, most times not. I always say if you can't get it done 6 times a home, you will never pull it off once at a contest. Next thing is find someone teaching a class on technique. There are many opportunities for these classes out there. 300-750bucks is cheap compared to the 6 to 10 events or more to just figure it out there to choose from. There were no classes when I started; very few were forthcoming with advice. Also if you take a class understand that these are techniques and you should adapt these to your cooking style and make them your own. You will never be able to duplicate someone else's ideas.
9) Besides yourself, who would you consider some of the best in the BBQ industry and why?
There are a whole lot of great folks in the BBQ industry. These are everyday BBQ folks working to make BBQ great. There are literally too many to name, but just open your Bullsheet or BBQ News or look on a forum, classes, seminars and on-site demos from some of these folks. I have a few folks I can just call if I need some advice, but the BBQ family is always willing to help.
More From Jason Stutes
Check out our first "Around the Grill" article featuring our very own Chef Tony Matassa of BBQGuys