My friend Bob Herndon asked me to share the differences between Georgia BBQ and Missouri BBQ. Well, I spent 4 years eating and judging BBQ in the Georgia BBQ Assn, the National BBQ Assn, the Memphis BBQ Network, the Florida BBQ Assn and the Kansas City BBQ Society, and I loved every minute of it. The BBQ at contests I judged in GA was amazing, some of the best I've ever had. I still remember every detail of a piece of chicken I had at Dublin in 2010--fabulous. And the brisket that Glen smoked in Duluth. And the ribs at Jackson in 2009. I judged about a dozen contests every year from 2008-2011, and I was lucky enough to get to eat something great nearly time I went out. I can sincerely say that there never was a contest I regretted being a part of. But even better than the food were the people I got to meet and spend time with--Glen & Melanie Musick, Bob Herndon, Mr K, Gregg Snyder, Rod Brown, David Gellin, Kell and Carlene Phelps and at least half a dozen more. BBQ people are the very best people on Earth. As far as BBQ at GA restaurants, I ate at a bunch of 'em. I had to--within 5 miles of my house I could get great BBQ at Fox Brothers, Community Q, Burnt Fork, Big Daddy Z's, or Pig & Chick. One of the very best things I did when I first moved to Decatur was join the Atlanta BBQ Club. Eat BBQ once a month with a bunch of other BBQ lovers? Where do I sign up? And then every so often I would drive up to Sam's # 1 or The Big Shanty or Fresh Air just because I could, and the BBQ was always the highlight of my day. I'll always remember meals with my friends Bob Saye and Leslie Raymer and David Schakett and Don de Leaumont. The BBQ was always great, but eating with friends was especially wonderful. I just remembered when Jane & I stopped by one late evening at Southern Soul BBQ at St Simon's Island--that was great too. Whenever somebody wanted to know where the best BBQ could be found, I was glad to have an answer. I'm glad I got to do the homework, and I thank 'em for asking.
All these memories are making me sad, because I moved away from all that great BBQ and came back to my home state of Missouri on June1st. We live in Columbia now, and the BBQ here in town is pretty limited. The # 1 BBQ here is not even at a BBQ place--it's at D Rowe's. I got a great pulled pork sandwich there the other day, and I got to see their Old Hickory pit and talk BBQ with David (he is the D of D Rowe's) for a while. But to get great BBQ here it looks like I'll have to go to Pappy's Smokehouse in St Louis and or Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City. Those are both awesome BBQ destinations, but they're both 2 hours from my house in different directions. In my BBQ eating lifetime here I have eaten at Arthur Bryant's, Gates & Sons, Roper's Ribs, and five or six more spots that were all very good--and I'll get back to them all as time permits. I did judge at a couple of nice KCBS contests nearby since we arrived, and I ate very well at those. I'm signed up to judge at 2 or 3 more even ts as the summer progresses.
The difference between BBQ in Georgia and Missouri? I guess good BBQ in Georgia is just a little bit too far away for me now, and good BBQ in Missouri mostly hasn't been located yet. But I still have my car window cracked and my nose sniffing the air for that great aroma of wood and meat. When BBQ is prepared with love and passion and knowledge, the results are terrific wherever you happen to eat it. When I find what I'm looking for, I'll be sure to let y'all know.