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Around the Grill - Q&A With Jack Daniel's Cook-off Competitors

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Jack Daniel's Edition Primo Oval XL

What is the Jack Daniel's cook-off?

Every year in Lynchburg, Tennessee, elite barbecue teams from around the world get together to smoke, season and sear their best recipes in front of judges and more than 25,000 fans at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue. Me and Chef Tony were invited to the event this year to cook several recipes on the Primo grill, and while we were there, I had a chance to talk to some of the heavy-hitters at this years event.

Q&A with Bill Gillespie from Smokin' Hoggz BBQ; Abington, Massachusetts

1) What sets the “Jack” apart from other BBQ competitions you have participated in?

It's an invitational, meaning there's a lot of pride associated, because everyone here is a grand champion. When you win, you're beating the best of the best.

2) What do you like most about the barbeque community?

The camaraderie, everyone is friends. If you forget something, the guy next to you is likely to have it and be more than happy to share with you.

3) Have you ever cooked on a Primo?

As a matter of fact, I won a Primo in a competition a few weeks ago[...] We have the extra large, and it's awesome. It's huge.

4) What is the most unique thing you have ever grilled, smoked or barbequed on your grill?

I'm going to have to say a desert, peach cobbler.

Q&A with Mike Killey of the Q U Smokin' Crew; Waukesha, Wisconsin

1) Have you ever cooked on another Kamado grill, like the Big Green Egg? If so, what do you feel is different about the Primo?

[Yes] I like the Primo because of the oval surface area[...] I can cook on either one, but I like the oval design. I can get more on the Primo.

2) Like more racks of ribs?

Yeah. I can get 2 racks of ribs lying flat. I can probably fit 7 using a rib rack, with no problem. It's worked out great for me. I love it. [I] put a pizza stone in there and crank it up for wood-fired pizza.

3) Do you have any advice for our BBQ enthusiasts inspired by competition cooking?

Consistency. Practice. Make sure you can do the same thing week in and week out. Plan something that works and stick to it.

Q&A with Jason White with Deep South Smoking-Q; Madison, Louisiana

1) After participating in multiple competitions, what are your thoughts on the barbeque community?

They're all out here to have a good time. If you go anywhere and forget a seasoning, the guy next to you probably has it […] If you're in a bind, I'll help you. At another competition, someone forgot parsley, so we gave it to them. By the time we got there, [other] people were coming up with parsley for them too.

2) What advice would you give the average cook to improve his BBQ?

Be consistent. Cook what you like.

3) Now that you're competing in the Jack Daniel's Invitational, what remains on your barbeque bucket list?

I would like to place in the top 20 or 30.

Check out our "Around the Grill" BBQ Interviews featuring our very own Chef Tony Matassa of BBQGuys

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