The Master of BBQ
For several years, barbecue wasn’t just a backyard-on-the-Weber event for Tom Parrish, Assistant Director of BBG Facilities and Fleet.
Parrish and his wife were a team called “Rub This BBQ,” competing in around six professional barbecue competitions a year. He also was founder and pit master for the “Driller’s Delight BBQ Cooking Team,” taking part for eight years in the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo BBQ Cook-Off.
“I took a photo, and it didn’t do it justice,” Parrish said of the stock show’s competition, which one year covered a large part of the huge Fiesta Texas parking lot.
Parrish also was one of the founders of the Westside Chili Association, which for 12 years ran a series of monthly chili cook-offs.
“We even had a fundraising cook-off, live auction and blood donor awareness event to benefit the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center one year,” said Parrish, who has been with the organization since 1990. “We shut down the association about three years ago, but before that I was president for 5 years.”
Parrish said his BBQ career began as a friendly competition.
“Some friends and I used to smoke a brisket every Sunday for all the customers at our favorite watering hole,” he said. “Of course, we always argued about who was the better pit master, so we had our own little competition. I enjoyed that friendly competition so much I started looking into sanctioned BBQ cook-offs and was quickly hooked on the whole experience.”
Brisket became his favorite cut on the competitive circuit.
“I love that done properly, you can take a naturally tough piece of beef and turn it into a tender, juicy, flavorful delight,” he said.
Parrish retired from competitive BBQ cooking when entry fees got too high, he said. His advice to anyone looking to get on the circuit: educate yourself.
“If you are interested in competition BBQ, you need to learn all you can about the meats, spices, types of wood, temperatures, cook times and a dozen other details that can affect your final product,” he said. “Never be too proud to ask for advice from experienced pit masters and learn to take constructive criticism to constantly improve your smoking skills.”
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