Houston/Beaumont/Victoria, Texas (Hurricane & Flood) / 371,760 Meals over 11 Days

Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane, struck Texas and neighboring states and produced over 40 inches of rain.  Operation BBQ Relief operated from three areas: Houston, Beaumont and Silsbee, and Victoria and Rockport.  To date, this was the largest and longest deployment.

We apologize if you or your company is not listed. Things can get crazy during a deployment, and we do the best we can to keep track of all the great volunteers and businesses who help make OBR happen.  If you or your company is not listed, please let us know so we can add you to the list.  Email us at info@operationbbqrelief.org.

,

Aaron Mizrahi

Chef Aaron Mizrahi is an authority on live fire cooking as well as an authority on all meats.

He is a Creekstone Farms Premium Black Angus Beef International Brand Ambassador, Corporate Executive Chef at Grupo Almos and Chef at Mizrahi Meat Authority.

,

Sweet Swine O’ Mine

Winner of the inaugural Pigapalooza OBR cup!  Mark Lambert is the pitmaster for two time Memphis in May World Champion Team  “Sweet Swine O’ Mine”. Mark travels the world teaching BBQ classes in Europe, Australia, and Mexico.  He is also the co-founder and instructor at one the premier competition bbq classes in the country, www.barbecuelive.com .  When he’s not traveling the BBQ circuit he owns and operates a BBQ products business,  Sweet Swine O’ Mine Distributing (www.ssomd.com)   His Rubs, sauces, marinades, and smokers are used by Grand Champion Pitmasters all over the world.  Mark is the Mississippi State Lead for OBR and the President Elect for the National BBQ Association.

,

Master Chef Tony Seta – Butterball

Master Chef Tony Seta, C.M.C.

Tony Seta, one of only 70 Master Chefs in the U.S. Certified by the American Culinary Federation, is a culinary professional with more than 30 years of experience. He is well-known for developing memorable dishes for restaurants and food manufacturers across the nation – and an expert in translating bold restaurant flavors to consumer recipes for in-home use. A culinary pioneer, he is especially known for reinventing old favorites like tasty barbecue sauces and other signature dishes.

Chef Tony’s big ideas have been behind many of the restaurant nationwide that you love to visit, such as Bone Fish Grill and Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Tony was also a former Instructor at the Prestigious Culinary Institute of America

In his current role with Butterball, Chef Tony works with restaurant chains and food manufacturers to develop creative and signature turkey items using his expert knowledge of ethnic cuisines and current culinary trends.

Tony lives in North Carolina and serves as Butterball LLC’s Director of Culinary Services.

,

Memphis Barbecue Co.

John David Wheeler, Head Cook for the Natural Born Grillers BBQ Team, has been one of the most award-winning BBQ cooks in the world.  Among his many accomplishments are twice winning the overall Cooking Team of the Year award, winning the World Grand Championship at Memphis in May, winning three separate World Championships, over 75 Grand Championships and literally thousands of other awards. 

John Wheeler is now a partner and Pitmaster in the Memphis Barbecue Company, one of the hottest BBQ restaurants in the country.  Mr. Wheeler’s partner and Co-Pitmaster in the restaurant is Melissa Cookston, also a multiple World Championship winner, making the restaurant the only restaurant in America to feature two World Championship Pitmasters.

,

Boars Night Out

Boars Night Out started in early 2006 as a group of single guys that were all recently divorced. Throughout 2006 we were known as the team that liked to cook, and a team that could definitely throw a Championship Level Party!

2007-2009 were maturing years for the team. We picked up some first place trophies mostly in the Desert category. The Party was still the focus of the team and we knew something had to change. We made the team decision to shift our focus to becoming world class purveyors of the BBQ world.

In 2010 our focus shifted from the Party to preparing world class BBQ. We knew to compete at the highest level we needed a larger cooker. We collected our wish list and began construction of a new customized trailer. The only thing ordered for this trailer was the axles. Our 37-foot gooseneck trailer was truly custom built from the ground up incorporating ideas and suggestions from team members and respected cooks and friends from the BBQ community.

Our prosperity and accomplishments started taking shape:

  • 2 first place finishes in the Hog Division
  • 2 first place finishes in the Rib category
  • 1 Grand Champion Award

These, along with several 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishes in other categories, and then to top it off with a 5th place finish in the points for the Memphis BarBQue Network and gained respect from fellow competitors.

In 2011 we continued to refine our processes. We worked on our presentations by matching our team member’s talents with the various tasks necessary to compete at the highest level. We were definitely focused and intent on accomplishing our goal to be at the very pinnacle of Championship BBQ teams in the world.

  • 2 Grand Champion Awards
  • 2 3 rd place finishes Hog
  • 1 1 st place finish shoulder
  • 2 1 st place finishes Rib
  • Numerous 3rd, 4 th places in various divisions
  • MBN recognized us as 3 rd in points earned for the year

In 2011 we traveled to Ottawa Canada and hosted the 4 th of July Celebration for the US Ambassador to Canada. Needless to say we were quite proud of this privilege and honor. We also purchased a commercial cooker enabling us to Cook for all types of civic events, fundraisers, catering jobs, etc. There is no event to small or too big for Boars Night Out!

2012 was the year where our focus and hard work finally paid off. Our team had matured, our attention to the smallest detail was where it had to be, we were totally focused, and our intent was to win against all competitors and to become the MBN Team of the Year!

,

Bear’s Smokehouse

Jamie was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri—”The BBQ capital of the world”— and spent his high school years working for one of the best BBQ restaurants in that city. Upon graduation, he joined the Navy and was always on the lookout for great BBQ throughout his travels across the U.S. and abroad. Jamie took his insatiable love and talent for food and became a professional competitive eater (personal best: 318 chicken wings in half an hour). With his winnings, he opened Bear’s Smokehouse, in Windsor, in 2013. Soon after, he entered another contest sponsored by the web-hosting company GoDaddy, in which finalists pitched business ideas to racecar driver and firebrand, Danica Patrick. Jamie’s idea won and he used the prize money to expand his BBQ empire which is continuing to grow through new partnerships like the UConn Huskies and the Hartford Riverfront Recapture organization. Soon to open his 4th location, his restaurants use a staggering 25,000 lbs of meats a week.  His goal is to elevate Hartford in the eyes of BBQ aficionados everywhere. Jamie is committed to a mission of giving back to the Connecticut community and making it a better place to live.

,

Grinders

Born Jeffrey Alan Rumaner, but living under the internationally trademarked moniker “STRETCH”, is an Artist, Entrepreneur, Restaurateur, TV Personality & the visionary creator of Grinders Pizza. Grinders Restaurants, CrossroadsKC @ Grinders, (USA Today’s #1 Pick for “Best Kansas City Nightlife”) and even their retail support “sister company,” STRETCH Specialties, LLC, which creates and sells Grinders Signature Hot Sauces, T-shirts and other fun merchandise, have each gained world-wide notoriety, thanks in part, to owner STRETCH’s appearances on hit television shows like: Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives; Guys Big Bite; Cutthroat Kitchen; Travel Channel’s “Pizza Paradise”, Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue”, Animal Planet’s “Eating the Enemy,” Discovery Channel’s Monster House, Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters, and even ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. STRETCH has twice toured with Guy Fieri on his national “Foodapalooza Roadshow” and the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, showcasing his custom-made 25-gallon Monster Margarita Machine. STRETCH continues to tour the globe several times a year, entertaining & feeding US military personnel with Messlords, a globetrotting troop of fellow celebrity chefs.

In its first years of business, Grinders Signature Hot Sauces has won more than 25 prestigious awards & honors, including 2015 Screaming Mimi’s – from the New York City Hot Sauce Expo, Peoples Choice Awards at Houston Hot Sauce Festival, multiple 2014 International Scovie Awards; appearing on CBS’s 60 Minutes, CBS New York, NBC Albuquerque, and has become available in hundreds of stores around the world, like Whole Foods Markets, Bed, Bath & Beyond & many specialty stores, not to mention quite a few military bases, including ones in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [GITMO,] Guam & Japan.

Before opening his first Grinders restaurant in 2004, STRETCH was a working sculptor, who first moved to Kansas City to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. He went on to earn his Masters of Fine Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia in 1990, and while there befriended and collaborated with the shock-rock band GWAR. In fact, STRETCH portrayed “Flattus Maximus” in the short film/ long form video entitled, “Phallus In Wonderland” which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1993. [Flattus Wiki ]

In 1991, he opened his sculpture studio in a run down area south of downtown Kansas City, now called the “Crossroads Arts District”. His passion for transforming this blighted neighborhood was all encompassing, as he solicited other artists, entertainers, gallery owners and entrepreneurs to move into the neighborhood and open businesses. Before STRETCH, there were two art galleries, and now there are over 70. Before STRETCH, there were only 2 hamburger stands & a Mexican food restaurant in the entire district, and now there are over 50 restaurants. These efforts in the early days earned him the nickname, “The Mayor of the Crossroads” and he began serving on many organization’s Boards of Directors, culminating in a 2006 “Urban Hero Award,” presented by the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri. Then, in 2009 was appointed by then Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Mark Funkhouser to the prestigious and occasionally controversial Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission, where STRETCH worked to ensure greater transparency and access for small businesses.

Most days, STRETCH can be seen creating new public art, chasing after his adorable three-year-old twins, developing & hosting exciting new TV shows, growing the Grinders Pizza brand, brewing craft beers at the new Grinders High Noon Brewery and slow-smoking some award-winning BBQ on the National KCBS BBQ Circuit. Follow STRETCH on Facebook or twitter @STRETCHartist, and visit Grinders online store at GRINDERSPIZZA.com

,

Sugarfire Smoke House

Born and raised in St. Louis, Christina Fitzgerald discovered her passion for the culinary arts at an early age. As a young child, she preferred to watch Ina Garden and Paula Deen over Sunday morning cartoons. The only girl out of seven siblings, Christina grew up in a large family and recognized her competitive nature early on. She graduated from culinary school at the top of her class and proudly served as the captain of the culinary competition team (ACF, American Culinary Federation), winning many competitions along the way. Her success encouraged her to audition for Season 11 of Food Network Star, where she was honored to be casted.

Post-show, a friend introduced Christina to Chef Mike Johnson, and it was love at first site! Though her culinary career to date had been French-influenced fine dining, Chef Johnson showed Christina the light — that barbecue was the way to go! Christina joined forces with Chef Johnson to bring Sugarfire Smoke House to higher success, and together the duo opened Hi-Pointe Drive-In in the winter of 2016. Together they have served as celebrity guests and competed in events stateside and beyond, including Hogs for the Cause, the Perth Yak Ales BBQ Competition, Australia’s Meatstock, The Kansas City Royal, Charleston Wine & Food Festival, Memphis in May and the World Food Championship.

Together they now have five children, seven restaurants, two very large dogs and a lot of love! You can often catch a glimpse of their playful, yet competitive banter on regular segments of Show Me St. Louis, or at many of the circuit barbecue competitions nationwide and abroad. A fierce competitor with a wild sense of humor and big heart, Christina brings the sweet and the heat to Sugarfire Smoke House!

Hailing from a background in fine dining, Chef Mike Johnson launched his culinary career under young Emeril Lagasse before heading north to develop his skills under the expertise of Chicago’s Charlie Trotter and Gabino Sotellino. Johnson then traveled to Paris to train at the prestigious Le Buisson D’Ardent, and served a stint under Belgian Master Chef Daniel Joly in Beaver Creek, Co. before bringing his culinary expertise home to St. Louis. Today, Johnson’s the chef and owner of St Louis’ Sugarfire Smoke House, an award-winning restaurant known for its succulent brisket, pulled pork and ribs, as well as its signature sandwiches and sides that shine light on Johnson’s dynamic capacity. With six locations (and counting), Sugarfire has consistently been ranked best barbecue in St. Louis and Johnson continues to establish himself as culinary master and renowned competitor, placing 1st in the 2015 Memphis in May World Championship (seafood), 3rd in the 2014 Memphis in May World Championship (poultry), and most recently, 3rd in the 2015 World Food Championship (bacon). Furthermore, Chef Mike is thrilled to see his latest venture Hi-Pointe Drive In come to fruition as his passion pursuit of burgers. Chef Mike has been featured on a variety of national television shows, including Food Network’s BBQ, Brews & ‘Que (feat. Michael Symon), Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters, and Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay! Keep up with Chef Mike Johnson on Twitter!

,

Smoke on Wheels

Andy Groneman has been part of the BBQ world for 23 years. A second generation pitmaster, Andy started his BBQ journey learning the ropes of competition BBQ in the early 1990s. From there Smoke on Wheels was born, whose trek has taken him from coast to coast and through our borders to Canada, Mexico, and Australia.

Andy has hundreds of awards at all levels, for grilling, smoking, and outdoor cooking. In addition to over 25 Grand Championships, and 2 perfect scores in Kansas City BBQ Society events some other notable accolades:

  • Culinary Fight Club – Grilling Champion (KC 2016)
  • 2 time National Brisket Champion – Chest to Chest Invitational
  • World Champion pork – Jack Daniels World Invitational
  • World Champion pork – American Royal Invitational
  • Reserve Grand Champion – American Royal Open
  • NY State – Empire Cup Champion (7 events throughout NY State)
  • Chef’s Choice Champion – Jack Daniels World Invitational

In addition to instructing classes you can also find Andy on celebrity judging panels, local television stations as an expert during for food segments, and cable television as well. Most recently as a BBQ mentor & expert on MasterChef | Australia. Also seen in two episodes of Travel Channel’s “ BBQ Crawl” (Season 2). Many clips are available on YouTube, Vimeo, or in the streaming sections of TV Station Websites. Look for us!

An accomplished instructor, in addition to private engagements, Andy teaches all over the country and world – from food demonstrations, or beer/wine pairings to 2 day intensive competition cooking classes. Andy has led classes & demonstrations at:

  • The I Love BBQ Festival – Lake Placid, NY
  • The Cloverdale Rodeo – Cloverdale, BC, Canada
  • Kansas City Culinary Center – Overland Park, KS
  • King of the Smoker Invitational – La Quinta, CA
  • Well Seasoned –A Gourmet Store– Langley, BC, Canada
  • Redheads Gourmet BBQ Festival – Melbourne/St. Kilda, Australia

Andy teaches over 50 classes annually, including his monthly classes in the Teaching Kitchen of All Things BBQ in Wichita, KS.