Into the Fire
How do you keep a young lad out of trouble? Turns out the secret is to put him in the kitchen and teach him how to chop onions. Inspired by cooking with his mom, Red began watching Yan Can Cook, Justin Wilson and Julia Childs. Of course Red didn’t know, at the time, that the humble beginnings in his mom’s kitchen would make him a pizza aficionado and barbecue enthusiast.
When Red joined the Marine Corp, he often volunteered to cook the burgers or chicken wings for his buddies. It quickly became obvious to everyone around that he had mad skills when it came to the barbecue grill. If there was a picnic or beach event, Red was there getting his grill on.
Red’s life took a turn however, when he lost his mother and his wife within two weeks of each other in February 2012. He was devastated and lost.
Looking at his young sons Red knew he had to dedicate his life to being the best father and example. “The mountain is always tough to climb, but ‘never give up’ is our motto,” says Red.
Following his mother’s example, Red has taken his sons into the kitchen and they help him cook. Just like the phoenix rising from the flames, Red firmly believes that all things happen for a reason. “My sons have taught me what it means to be resilient. They have taught me what it means to love again, to be a great friend, I owe them everything and this is one way I give back.”
A few months later, when Red was serving at the U. S. Embassy in Brazil, he began to learn the art of Brazilian barbecue, churrasco. He honed his skill so well that when the Embassy wanted to entertain Brazilian dignitaries Red was asked to do the cooking! Dining in Brazil is an experience that can last two to three hours. With all conversation and laughter it’s full of good food and camaraderie. The Brazilians were shocked that a “gringo” could cook as well as their churrasco pitmasters.
Returning to the United States, Red found that the dining experience here was often rushed. With wait staff so anxious to turn the tables and make a buck, it was a drastic change from dining in Brazil. “Life is pressured enough,” he said. That’s when Red knew he wanted to change the culture, show people what it means to slow down and reap the benefit of a closer family, a closer community and making new friends. And the idea for Red’s BBQ and Pizzeria was born.
To further his barbecue skills, Red was watching YouTube videos. The vision for Red’s BBQ and Pizzeria began to come together. Starting out on YouTube, Red thought he would be able to share his passion. “I think I want to put myself out there and show folks what I’m about, make them laugh and maybe even learn a little,” says Red. In addition to studying his favorites on YouTube, Red has begun training to become a pizzaiolo, a pizza maker certified in Neapolitan pizza making. And, to help him get his concept off the ground, Red’s brother Justin is lending his expertise as a former corporate restaurant consultant.
As he started getting more into the craft of barbecue, Red started researching smokers and looking at the different brands and how they were made. “The Yoder just stood out to me because of their quality.” He settled on a Yoder Smokers Loaded Wichita.
“I’ve had my steel horse for three years and the relationship between ol’ Red and his sturdy steel horse is gonna last the test of time.”
Red says that the way to know what kind of pit to buy depends on your particular style. Some people enjoy watching the fire, stoking the flames and all the nuances that come with an offset wood fired pit. Others are more of the “set it and forget it” type of cook. They are best served with the pellet grill because you can set the temperature where you want it and walk away.
In any case, Red says, “Time and temp is something that should be well understood! It takes time to make the best BBQ and the right temps ensure perfection.” As for size, Red says “Round up . . . and make sure you have plenty of chairs for your buddies and neighbors to sit in because they will want to come when they see the blue smoke rollin’.”