Day 21: Our First Guest Blog Post

I’ve been hoping to capture some of the thoughts of my good friends and family and share them here.  You all may get tired of Lee and I writing all the time. 😛  I thought to myself.. why not get a few friends that love food and love to write about food to share their thoughts and ideas. The following is our first guest blog post by one of my longest friends, Brad Benefield.  Stay tuned for other guest blog posts as well. Some maybe about our dad in the prime of his career, and some may also be about food in general, all should be interesting and entertaining…

-Michael Quessenberry

Growing up with the Qs by Brad Benefield

Jim Quessenberry, or “Quess” as everyone called him, said the recipe for Sauce Beautiful came to him in a dream. Growing up around him, that doesn’t surprise me in the least. Most of us as children begin with an almost infinite capacity for creativity and imagination. For whatever reason, that ability is often lost as we begin to age, with only a small ember still burning within us. It always appeared to me that Quess never stopped dreaming. If anything, his imagination and creativity seemed to become bigger with each year he was on earth. In my memories of Quess that is what stands out to me; He was always creating, joking, and dreaming. Creativity just seemed to flow from him. People loved to sit and talk with him because you never knew what to expect. Every day he had a new joke to tell, a new recipe to cook, or a new invention to build.

As a kid, I knew very little about BBQ beyond the idea of throwing meat over a fire. After becoming friends with Michael and meeting Jim, I quickly learned that it was much more than that. The work and nuance that Quess and the other great cooks put in to making truly great BBQ elevated it closer to an art form than just making a meal. Everything had to be just right: the quality of the meat, the type of wood in the smoker, the sauce, the rub, the temperature; it all culminated into some of the best food I had ever eaten. Also something about the way BBQ is prepared feels like an ancient thing that we forgot about somewhere along the way. There is something very peaceful in the practice gathering around a fire with friends, smoking a pig, and enjoying each other’s company.

Even as a kid, I knew Sauce Beautifulor as everyone in our hometown knew it “Quessenberry Sauce” was something special. It has been wonderful to see the sauce grow and change over the years. I know Jim would be happy to see how Michael and Lee have kept his dream alive and added their own creativity to their father’s legacy. The original Sauce Beautiful is still the same wonderful thing Quess dreamed up so many years ago, and Michael and Lee’s new white and gold sauces add a new spin to that give even more originality to an already unique product. I feel confident in saying wherever the story of Sauce Beautiful goes in the future, there will always be a new joke, a new story, and a new dream just around the corner.

Sauces

Day 18: 5 Simple Ways to Upgrade Your Product Demonstration Booth

Over the past three years it has been apparent to us that your presentation game must be on-point if you want to boost sales in local and regional grocery stores and specialty shops. As we’ve grown over that time, we’ve begun to see other local barbecue sauce companies take notice and follow our lead. Going from coolers and the ever so familiar off-white, light pink, and greige (gray-beige) crockpots with the little flowers on the side to mirror finish serving dishes shows just how important it is for barbecue sauce startups to stay relevant, appetizing, and approachable. Without anymore delay, here are five things you can do today to stay relevant in your local grocery stores and marketplaces.

 

5. Boast the Benefits, Don’t Baffle With Bullshit

Early on in our demonstrations at grocery stores there were two idealogies about how to best approach potential customers to try the product. As it turns out, most customers are smarter than the average bear and can smell bullshit a mile away. Who knew? You can boast and brag visually using trophies and/or banners without constantly reminding the customer how good you really think you are. No one likes a braggart and they especially don’t like one that initially approaches them with a loud and abrasive claim regardless of merit. Rather than asking the customer if they’ve heard about your recent accolades or publications, ask them if they’d like to try a free sample of the goods. That is what you’re there to do after all; sell your products.

 

Pro-tip: set up a table with a trophy or two (if you have them) but don’t focus on the trophies. Focus on the customer and the sample.

Let the products speak for themselves. No one’s ever heard of “Meatwave Magazine.”

 

4. Interact on a Personal Level.

So many of your customers will remember you and unfortunately you may not remember all of them. It’s a tough line to walk because you don’t want to offend anyone, but you have to interact on a personal level that engages. Talk with the customer as they’re trying the product. Ask them what they like or dislike most about your product while they’re tasting it. You’ll create a level of respect and integrity with them and it will help you create lasting bonds with your customers. It also serves well for feedback. Customers that are comfortable will be candidly honest with you.

Pro-tip: Check the contents of the customer’s cart. See some kind of meat? Offer the right product for it. Start a conversation and then offer a sample.

Thank you for coming by our demonstration today. Let us know how we did. If you are on Facebook, be sure to search for us and like our page. You can leave feedback there as well.

3. Conserve But Don’t Go Skimpy on Samples.

When’s the last time you ate a cracker with barbecue sauce on it and thought to yourself, “I really need to get a pack of saltines to go with this sauce. It is soooo good! I can’t wait to get home and drizzle this on some crunchy crackers!” I would venture a guess that you probably haven’t ever knocked down the grocery store door to get to some crackers when you’re thinking about barbecue. Your customers aren’t thinking that either. Serve them up some pulled pork cooked and served with your products. Get the taste in their mouth and the sale will follow.

Pro-tip: Use restaurant squeeze bottles with nozzles for accurate and conserved application of the sauces.

Save the crackers for a last ditch effort if you’ve run out of meat.

2. Vegans, Vegetarians, and Hipsters OH MY!

We never wish to alienate anyone during a demo, but as the old saying goes, you can’t please everyone. Now that being said, some folks are spending time and money on crackers, kale, jack fruit, and other substitutes for meat. We encourage all people to try our products and for the most part are fairly friendly to special dietary needs, but we never lose sight of our industry and that is barbecue; smoked, flavorful, and delicious meats with a sweet and tangy flavor profile. When you start chasing niche markets while losing sight of your bread and butter customers it becomes a slippery slope that can be hard to overcome. We welcome all people to use our products, but it is difficult for us to begin tracking all of the dietary needs and fads as they come and go. Expect pulled pork, sauce, and rub at our demos.

Pro-tip: Avoid confrontation with PETA and other activists by offering fruit as an alternative. If that doesn’t work, refer to the store manager for assistance.

A quick upgrade is to offer a fruit such as an apple slice instead of crackers. It is juicy and accents barbecue seasons and sauces quite well for those who won’t eat meat.

1. Presentation is 9/10 of The Law

No one wants to eat BBQ from your grandma’s crockpot and they especially don’t want to eat it from your tailgating cooler. While these are great for tailgating and making things portable, you’re here to make a first impression that lasts. We were guilty of using aluminum pans in coolers to keep the meat somewhat warm, but after you open the lid a few times the heat is gone and the condensation starts to dry out the meat.

 

The logical solution is to get a warm dish that will keep the meat moist, warm, and tender. So get a crockpot right? Well that can work, and it does in a pinch, but what if you’re outside or yards away from a power outlet? What if your crockpot looks like something that should be on “The Antiques Roadshow?” What if you have bright orange extension cords looking like a construction site? Are you sending the right visual message? Probably not. Ditch the crockpot for a professional chafing dish with portable fuel burners, some silver flatware, and while you’re at it, throw in a fitted table cloth with your logo on it. We’ve seen other demo booths follow in our footsteps to give a professional “you got your shit together” look with a simple fitted table cloth and some silver flatware.

Pro-tip: Chafing dishes are an expensive but necessary tool that will give your game some much appreciated next-level respect from customers. It will speak for itself. People can’t help but look into it like a mirror. If you’re serious about your groundgame in local grocery stores, you’ll buy a chafing dish right now and keep the crockpot in your kitchen.

Day 17: So… We Found Another World Championship That Dad Won? Who Knew?

Upon doing a ton of research lately on the history and origins of 1980’s pioneering barbecue championships, we found out a few things that even we didn’t know about Dad’s past wins. Unfortunately back in the late 80’s or maybe early 90’s, Dad’s trophies were on display at a buddy’s restaurant and it burned completely to the ground. It included several top place wins at Memphis in May as well as other contests around the mid-south. (I’ll do more research on that later to establish the what, when, and where of the restaurant). All of our lives, we were told that Dad was a two-time champion, receiving top honors of the 3rd and 5th International Cooking Competition in Lisdoonvarna, Ireland. While this is a true statement it seems that we all, including my mother, let one slip through the cracks that was a much more recent victory, and from Memphis in May to boot.

 

Through research online, it became apparent that Dad won the World Championship in Ribs either in 1993 or 1994 at Memphis in May. The book, “Down Home Cooking” by Reader’s Digest (ISBN 0-89577-646-4) lists a recipe and excerpt from an interview with Dad called “Arkansas Slabs of Ribs” which states “Jim Quessenberry, grand prize winner in the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, slowly smokes pork ribs on a barbecue for several hours. For faster cooking, roast them in the oven then finish them on the grill.”

EDIT: To my knowledge, Dad’s biggest win at MIM was a 2nd place win in whole-hog sometime in the 1980’s, but this sheds new light on a trophy that may have been lost to time and or a fire. According to my mother, Dad won Grand Prize in a ham cooking contest and this may have been what the article alluded to without expressly mentioning ribs. I have seen one website claiming that Memphis in May was won by Apple City Smokers in 1994 with ribs, but another team took shoulders in 1993 which could lead to the possibility that there was a place win in 1993. One thing’s for certain, he won a category in Memphis in May with top honors and that’s a feat in and of itself.

Day 15: Five Things You Should Know About Charcoal

We’ve all had our experiments with wood, charcoal, and even gas when cooking outdoors, but did you know that charcoal was originally used for several other reasons including art, medicine, makeup, and metallurgy?

Image By DryPot – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12649706

Charcoal in Art

Charcoal has been used as a pigment for ages to represent the color black. From the earliest paintings and inscriptions to modern art, charcoal is a favorite among a long lineage of expressionists and artists alike. Furthermore, charcoal is microscopically absorbant and can be used as a pigment for dyes used to create black and grey fabrics.

Charcoal in Medicine

Charcoal is one of a few age old home remedies for dietary and digestive issues. For centuries people of the ancient world all the way to today have used charcoal to settle stomach aches and other digestive issues. It is so popular that charcoal is still used today in pill form to address and treat ailments.

 

Charcoal in Metallurgy

Charcoal is a fairly clean burning fuel when compared to wood and other organic rich fuel sources. That’s because charcoal has been through a process called pyrolysis, which is like fire anaerobics for trees. That means that wood or other vegetation like Bamboo, is heated to high temperatures with the absence of oxygen which consumes the organic matter and water and dries out the vegetation forming a charred black carbon substance we call charcoal. Since the wood has been burned once, the main byproduct, smoke, is cut in half leaving a combustible substance that puts out way less smoke. When you have less smoke, you can forge and weld metals with fewer impurities which allows for a better quality metal. Charcoal has fueled blacksmith forges from the early beginnings of the bronze, iron, and industrial ages throughout today.

Charcoal in Cosmetics

Like the dyes and paints mentioned before, charcoal can be ground into a microscopic powder pigment and used in a wide variety cosmetic products because it is absorbed very well by the skin and has staying power. Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s Royal Oak?

Charcoal in Cooking

Naturally charcoal is a fuel of choice for many barbecue enthusiasts, and it’s American as Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer… Yep that’s right, charcoal as we know it in the briquet form was invented by Zwoyer in 1897 in Pennsylvania. So 6 years before the Wright Brothers were jumping off of sand dunes with a giant kite, Zwoyer was getting a patent on charcoal, literally one of the most abundant and widely used fuels in the world, because he made it into nice consistent square briquets. And you thought Steve Jobs was a visionary. LOL. This guy reinvented reburning wood and patented it.

It doesn’t stop there though, Henry Ford got into the game and changed it FOREVER. Henry Ford needed a way to recycle and reuse wood byproducts and horsefeed used in his automobile factories so he took the charcoal briquet idea and ran with it. He began producing charcoal and selling it which founded a little company called Kingsford.

So what does all this have to do with Jim Quessenberry BBQ? Well for one you won’t be seeing us using any of Hank Hill’s propane and propane accessories, but furthermore, we prefer to cook most everything with charcoal for a smooth, longlasting, and well controlled fire. I prefer Kingsford, but Royal Oak will do in a pinch. I suppose that makes me a Ford man afterall.

 

Tell you what, why don’t you grab a bottle or two of the good stuff in our shop and share some of your charcoal grilling techniques with us. We’d love to hear your stories.

Day 11: Why Are We Celebrating? Giveaway Announcement

I am nearing the end of this day as I write this, but I wanted to share with you guys why we are celebrating today. If you have read the blog the last few days, you know today is our late father’s birthday, but it is also the go live date of when we took JimQuessenberry.com live in 2016! I’m not going to try to follow Lee’s last blog post because it was really good. So, without further adieu…

We are celebrating by offering a new giveaway! Click Here for Details!

Day 7: 7 Reasons Why People Like Sauce Beautiful.

There are a lot of reasons why people like Sauce Beautiful, but we’re gonna narrow it down to seven the you’ll be sure to relate to. It’s science.

1. It’s good on everything.

Don’t take it from me. Just ask our friend Patrick Huey who used to spread it on toast like jam and eat the toast. I’ve heard of people using it as a topping for ice cream but have yet to verify those reports.

2. It makes a great gift.

Once you’ve had too many bad gifts you never want to send a bad gift to anyone ever again. That’s why Sauce Beautiful and our other products make great gifts alone or paired together on a gift basket. Never be the one that gives away hygienic socks or a fruitcake at Christmas again.

3. The bottles are made of glass.

You never know when you might need a glass bottle, but ours are handy if you ever need one. They have resealable tops and can hold several ounces of liquid. They’re made right here in Jonesboro, AR and are very rigid.

4. There’s a giant smile on every bottle.

Dad was a jolly fella. He was always joking or laughing about something. That tradition carries on to this day with our crew. Thanks to Colin Ruthven, the artist behind the caricature, we’ve immortalized and preserved the best character traits of our Dad for the world to enjoy.

5. Every bottle holds a dream.

Every single bottle of Sauce Beautiful holds a dream. The sauce came to Dad in a dream and it was made on the stove immediately upon waking up. The recipe hasn’t changed since then with only a few minor adjustments to account for volume production. We still fill and label every jar by hand. It was a dream that Dad wanted to come true so we’ve been doing it ever since.

6. The label design is a family project.

Since it all began the labels have primarily been designed by my mother Donna. After Michael and I got old enough to produce sauce on our own, I have taken over those duties and have used Sauce Beautiful as a springboard for new ideas and marketing adventures to prove myself and be successful both in the BBQ business and professionally.

7. It’s just plain good.

Our friends love it. Our family loves it. It just has the perfect composition of bold flavors and tangy zip that makes everyone love it. Kids love it a lot. Our Dad tested new BBQ stuff on us all the time and this is still by far my favorite of our sauces.

Day 1: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Barbecue

There are many tips and tricks as well as tools of the trade that competitors and pitmasters use quite often to get the best results. We’re going to let you in on a few that we use quite often to get things going. We’ll start with the essential, and that’s fire.

Vegetable Oil and Paper Towel Fire Starter

So there are quite a number of methods for starting a fire including shorting out a car battery, gasoline and matches, dryer lint and a lighter, and so on, but these tend to be dangerous and/or extremely bitter in flavor. I’d like to share our favorite method which is odorless and doesn’t make your barbecue taste bitter.

About 10 years ago or so we were competing in a whole hog and shoulder competition and it was cold outside. Fire was not only necessary for cooking, but to stay warm. Luckily our good friend Jonathan Conley came prepared. He showed up with a gallon Ziploc bag full of folded squares of paper towel soaking in vegetable oil. We simply took one out, crumpled it into a mound about the size of half a baseball and set it under the charcoal chimney. All that was left to do was light one of the paper corners on fire and wait about 15 minutes for perfect white-hot glowing coals.

Use With Caution: Built in Handheld Thermometer

Seriously. Use this with caution. We’re not liable for you doing something dumb and burning yourself. Now that we have that outta the way, here’s a neat trick for at a glance slow smoking of larger meats. Ideally we like to smoke pork shoulders, butts, or even a whole hog at 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit and most of the time our built in chamber thermomometers work, but just like the old saying of Murphy’s Law goes, if it can happen it will. That’s never more true than when you depend on thermometers and they’re broken and/or miscalaibrated and you’re trying to check the heat of your smoke box.

Let’s say your instruments all break. Don’t sweat it. If this happens to you, a handy trick is to palm test the smoke chamber. Now, don’t go trying to palm the firebox. If you do, that’s not on me and your mom should have spent more time teaching you common sense, but alas, you’ll figure it out. The palm test is when you don’t want to open the smoke chamber and lose all the heat, but you want to know confidently that you have enough heat to cook with. It’s simple. Slowly approach the chamber with your palm open. If the heat is too much to bear even before you get close to the smoke box, your cooking too hot and too fast and need to choke down your stacks or your firebox air supply to cool down the fire. If you get to the surface with your palm and you’re able to comfortably place your hand on the surface for a considerable amount of time, then your fire is too cold and you’re on a slow pace to get done. The perfect amount of time to place your hand is to firmly apply your palm for a second or two before it becomes too uncomfortable and burns you. This is usually a decent enough heat to keep things rolling although you’ll want to phone a buddy and get something a little more accurate to read the temp.

All in all it’s a quick trick to keep you rolling, especially if you’re cooking overnight and thermometers aren’t readily available for a few more hours.

 

Turbinado Sugar

Ever see a Boston Butt that looked like the inside of a chimney? Overdone, carburized, burnt to a crisp? We’ve all been there, but what if I told you that all of them aren’t burnt that bad? Would you believe me? What if I told you there is a way to reduce the chances of over caramelization and blackening of the bark on your smoked cuts of pork and still have a sweet flavor? Would you want to know what that is? Sure you would.

Our main rub, Rub Beautiful, is made of Turbinado sugar just for that reason. Turbinado sugar is raw cane sugar before it has been processed, bleached, or had molasses added to it like brown sugar. Most people will confuse it with brown sugar, but it is in fact the mother of all sugar. The reason it is so much better for a finished bark on your barbecue is because it hasn’t yet been processed and has a higher threshold for crusting and turning black under high heat. In fact, when mixed with paprika or chili powder in your rub base (not unlike Rub Beautiful) it will give you a beautiful brick red color during the caramelization stage of smoking the meat. It makes for a beautiful finish and wonderful taste that’s not overpoweringly sweet, not crunchy or burnt, and defintely not bitter. It’s a neat trick that’s sure to please your next barbecue audience whether in competition or in the back yard.

Other Quick Tricks

  • No prep table? Easy, use a truck tailgate and some aluminum foil.
  • No wind for the firebox? Use a shop fan.
  • Dirty grates and no brush? Heat em up and ball up a wad of aluminum foil to scrub them with using a stick.
  • We’ll do a whole separate blog post on aluminum foil and duct tape.

365 Days of Barbecue

Good afternoon friends and family! I wanted to let you all know that JimQuessenberry.com is having its best year ever and to reward all of you for being our friends and fans, we’re going to be journaling our adventure one day at a time with our 365 Days of Barbecue blog.

Topics will always be about barbecue but with some different takes and twists on subject matter. We will continue to share recipes along the way so that you can get the most out of your barbecue experience with us. We hope that you find the blog to be informative and engaging as well as honest.

Let’s get started witha few newsworthy posts happening the past few days.

We’re on Amazon!

View our seller profile here. Our four top sellers are listed including our brand new Sauce Beautiful Gold. Of course you can always order online here at the website as well. Either way we’re excited to offer our products to a wider variety of customers.

We Just Made A Batch of Everything!

With the success of being featured on a few YouTube series and the announcement of Amazon, our Winter to Spring transition wiped us out of product. We’ve been fortunate to have higher than last year sales early in the year and have had to continue hitting the kitchen as often as possible to keep up.

Be sure to sign up for our various coupon mailing lists and subscribe to our blog for 365 Days of Barbecue