Smokestack Lightning Interview Tapes: Jim Quessenberry on Arkansas BBQ and Sauces

Lolis Elie: [00:00:00] Any places in Arkansas, we got to check out ,any like great places in Arkansas? Uh, yeah. You been to Craigs in De Valls Bluff?

Quess: [00:00:16] Yeah, they’re good.

Lolis Elie: [00:00:18] They have this sort of a strange thing there, that sauce that they got.

Donna Quessenberry: [00:00:22] With apples in it.

Lolis Elie: [00:00:23] Oh, your’re talking about the coleslaw? I’m talking about the sauce has like cinnamon.

Quess: [00:00:29] Like cinnamon and Mustard. Yeah. I’m not real crazy about the sauce, but they’re doing real good with it… And um… their packaging… I…
They tied me for second place in packaging, in the national thing in a Kansas City? You know where you guys judged sauce?

Lolis Elie: [00:00:45] Yeah.

Quess: [00:00:46] I send mine every year, you probably tasted mine and didn’t even know it.

Lolis Elie: [00:00:50] Up at the American Royal? Yeah, we were in their office kind of just tasting some sauces… but uh…

Quess: [00:00:58] Craig’s and I tied for [00:01:00] second place in packaging… one year, and I thought that was unique, that we’re both from Arkansas, and not that far apart.

Lolis Elie: [00:01:07] Yeah.

Quess: [00:01:09] But um… other than them? Now there’s a place in Hot Springs called McClards… it’s supposed to be pretty good. In fact, there’s a couple that will either be here today or tomorrow you’ll see them… they know more about that than I do ’cause they live in Hot Springs. But uh… back in our formative years, as contestants… we used to get a gallon McClard’s barbecue sauce and take it with us to do contests, they have… they make a mean sauce, a good sauce.
Before we started making our own, we’d carry a gallon of theirs to serve with our… stuff.

Lolis Elie: [00:01:49] When you were growing up, did your folks make their own sauce?

Quess: [00:01:52] Yeah, my mother always made sauce. She, uh, made it, uh, kinda [00:02:00] on the Kraft barbecue sauce type mode, you know? And, um, yeah, there was always somebody making, you know, little homemade do doodads of sauce. There used to be a guy down here, local, he’s dead now, but he used to be, he got out here in Wynne that had his own sauce, he did quite well in the little local groceries.
His name was uh… Johnny Surgeoner. His sauce was um…kind of a mustard base, heavy on the mustard and molasses, but his recipe died with him I think.
But, uh, it was pretty decent, but there’s always been somebody around making sauce.
That really wasn’t my forte. I didn’t get into that at all until that night, I was cooking those briskets, had that dream. Donna woke up in the middle of night smelling all that stuff and thought [00:03:00] I had really jumped times.

Donna Quessenberry: [00:03:12]
… banging around in the kitchen… I got up, I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I had this dream and before I forget it, I got to make this sauce”

Quess: [00:03:12] It turned out fair.

Donna Quessenberry: [00:03:13] We were messing around with sauce anyways because we always made something to go to competitions. So I’d been kind of piddling around doing different things, and Jim had been piddling around doing different things. So it just came to him…

Quess: [00:03:26] Donna makes a good sauce called Whiskey-A-Go-Go… It’s got bourbon whiskey in it. Good stuff.

Lolis Elie: [00:03:32] Hmm.
Well, let me…

Donna Quessenberry: It’s got everything…its kinda kitchen sink, kitchen refrigerator… don’t ask. ,

Quess: Raid the ice box type deal

Lolis Elie: Tell you what, you got maybe that recipe, a recipe that… we need a couple recipes for the book.

Quess: We’ll fix you up, yeah will fix you up

Michael Quessenberry

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