Pioneering Days of BBQ

In the early days of competition BBQ, the rules were just being written. It was like the “wild west” days of BBQ. Many techniques were not mainstream, and even some at the time were considered cheating, such as injection. In this audio clip from 1987, Jim Quessenberry gives Ardie Davis a tour of his whole hog smoker, which at one time had a propane burner in it. The main source of heat was the propane, but it was indirect, and allowed for using logs for the smoke flavor. The thing was as big as a camper trailer and cook easily 4 or more hogs at the same time. Listen below…

Jim Quessenberry and Ardie Davis talk smokers and whole hog.

Jim Q: 00:00
Alright, when I built this thing, I built it to take to Cleveland to a rib championship, but cost efficiency is the main thing there, You know? I have this burner here… This 500,000 Btu burner, It came out of one of these green house furnaces. Alright, that burner, See I use instead of a wood box under there… And then I put me a little log in there for the smoke. You dig? All right, see you draw your heat underneath your water jacket, back up, and back across and it pulls that little hickory smoke over and back. Okay… The Memphians and all, had a little problem with the rules. They didn’t want a propane man out here. So… I built that firebox. It does a wonderful job. It’s just a little slower than propane. Hey my man… (talking to a passer by)

Ardie D: 00:53
I didn’t taste any…

Jim Q: 00:54
Alright! Alright! How you doing? I’m Jim Quessenberry. Good to see ya. (talking to a passer by)

Ardie D: 00:57
I didn’t taste any whole hogs worth a smoke that was as good as yours.

Jim Q: 01:00
Thanks… now, part of that is the wood I use.

Jim Q: 01:04
What we do… We cut that hickory…

Ardie D: 01:06
You can see that red ring on it.

Jim Q: 01:08
That’s Sandy… That’s my girlfriend.

Ardie D: 01:09
You got it hands down… or there’s something wrong.

Jim Q: 01:21
Man I appreciate that, but I’m so damn anxious, I don’t wanna know. I don’t wanna disappoint myself if I don’t make it.

Ardie D: 01:21
You can’t. That’s the thing. I mean uh… in a contest like… You can come in last…

Jim Q: 01:26
Well sure…

Ardie D: 01:27
I don’t know… I don’t know what it is. He makes the best that I’ve tasted here. I mean, it is good stuff.

Jim Q: 01:35
Boy, I appreciate that… Grab you a little nibble off that shoulder over there. That’ll give you a little sample right there.

Michael Quessenberry

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