From the Heart – November 2017

Nov 2, 2017 | Newsletters

From the Heart

November 2017

Welcome to FROM THE HEART the bi-monthly newsletter from Operation BBQ Relief. We hope you enjoy what you find inside and learn more about how OBR helps others after disasters and stay up to date with special events and the special people we meet along the way. Let us know how you like it and share it with a friend.


It’s almost Thanksgiving and at this time every year we look back in awe of what Team OBR (volunteers, supporters and partners) have accomplished. So far in 2017 Mother Nature has kept everyone busy setting records, and we have responded by assisting those in need in 6 states, covering 8 disasters. The individuals and first responders in these communities have received over 569,000 hot BBQ meals that otherwise would have been an unmet need. Thanks to Team OBR and partners this was a “met need”. Special thanks to our Team OBR volunteers as you have answered the call and been deployed over 48 day this year. Everything starts with our volunteers! We are also very thankful for our sponsors, partners and those of you that support us every day! It takes a team effort to help those in need after a disaster.

Blessings to all.

Will Cleaver and Stan Hays
Co-Founders of Operation BBQ Relief (OBR)


Nov 9th – Low Country Boil – a fundraiser at World Food Championships Orange Beach, AL

Nov 10th – 12th – Pensacola Eggfest Fundraiser and Awareness. Pensacola, FL

Nov 13th – OBR Day of Giving – Heroes Hunting for Hope, Nevada, MO

Nov 23rd – Thanksgiving – OBR Day of Giving Locations
Memphis, TN
Austin, TX
Shreveport, LA
Gadsden, AL
Albertville, AL


Dec 2nd – OBR Day of Giving, Big Stone Gap, VA

Click Here for other event info Interested in volunteering for an event, please email for more information


OBR Day of Giving

About this time a few years ago a new program was introduced as the “OBR Day OF Giving”. This program was created as a result of what our volunteers were already doing in their communities by giving a hand up to others in need during the holidays. These volunteers were feeding the homebound elderly and homeless and teaming up with other nonprofits to help relieve the stress they were experiencing through the holidays. Our corporate sponsors rose to the occasion and now “OBR Day of Giving” has become a staple all year long for our volunteers and communities we have served. Over the next month our volunteers will be having ten different events and providing over 15,000 holiday meals in their own communities as their way of giving back. This is why we say “Everything starts with our Volunteers!”

2017 Deployments

6 States 48 Deployment Days
8 Disasters Approx 1,800 Volunteers

569,450 Hot BBQ Meals Served

Download the Most Recent Deployment Map

Deployment Pictures

Ways to Help

Team OBR has accomplished a lot since our inception. In the last six years, we have grown from a startup organization to being one of the largest providers of hot meals during disasters. Our BBQ background prepares us to be really great problem solvers and so much of disaster relief is solving big problems to help others. One problem that we are trying to solve is the peaks and valleys of funding between deployments as the ongoing expenses do not go away when we are not deployed. A few of these expenses are vehicle and trailer maintenance, warehouse space, storage, and insurance.

We are asking for your help in 2018 toward a monthly giving campaign. This campaign will allow our supporters to budget their monthly contributions throughout the year and allows OBR to better manage our ongoing expenses. Our 2018 annual goal is to add 1,000 new monthly supporters during the year. Thank you for being part of Operation BBQ Relief and helping us help others. If you wish to sign up for a monthly giving program go to or click below to enroll.

Other Ways To Help

Volunteer – We are always in need of volunteers. Let us know your skills and come join Team OBR.
Company matching contribution – Most large companies will match your contribution. Ask your HR Department and double up your donation.
In-kind Donation – If you have equipment or a product that we use your donation is always appreciated.

“It’s not all about BBQ”

Now do we have your attention? As you may know, we have several different departments within OBR and one of the newest areas is within Technology. This edition of OBR Bits and Bytes will be focused on volunteering when BBQ or cooking may not be your skillset or expertise. When we volunteer our time, we often want to do it not only for causes we are passionate about, but also in a way that uses our best skills. For Instance, many of our volunteers donate their time to OBR because they are passionate about BBQ or are experts in the culinary world. Others may volunteer because they own a restaurant or catering company and have equipment and rigs to deploy to a disaster. But what about technologists? We are seeing an increase in IT needs as technology redefines the nonprofit world especially at OBR.

You may have noticed over the past year, the team has been busy behind the scenes redesigning our website, developing and rolling out the new mobile volunteer and operations apps, as well as redefining the volunteer experience process with this new technology. We have many other areas that are impacted by technology as well and are looking to grow this team. If you or your company has special skills, products, or talents in the technology world, please reach out to me with a short bio of your skillsets. We have several technology projects in the near future and are looking forward to continuing to leverage technology to enhance OBR’s core vision. The vision of Operation BBQ Relief is that all people involved in relief efforts during natural disasters will understand the true meaning of compassion for those who have lost possessions and loved ones and that they will further utilize all of their God-given skills and abilities to better the lives of those affected.

Download our new app today. Click Apple or Google Play. Now, those of you that have technology skillsets, I want to hear from you. It’s volunteers and supporters like you that make OBR such a “Grand” organization.

Jeremy Bruce
Chief Technology Officer

Sponsors Corner

Each of us at Team OBR are unique in our own way. The special trait that brings us together is our drive to help others in need. The corporate partners of OBR are no different except their personality and drive are from the unique people that work for them. Over time From the Heart will introduce you to these special individuals so you can get to know them better and let them share with you why they got involved with OBR.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and one of our new Partners in 2017 is Butterball. They have been amazing at providing OBR with turkey products and the much needed refrigerated trailers during deployments for several years now. One of the individuals at Butterball that Team OBR has gotten to know well is Chef Anthony (Tony) Seta. Chef Tony is one of 73 Certified Master Chefs by the American Culinary Federation and has created some of the favorite dishes served at restaurants across the nation. If you’ve eaten out you have probably had one of Chef Tony’s creations for dinner. Chef Tony deployed with OBR to Fayetteville, NC during the flooding of 2016 and was part of the lineup at PigAPalooza during the 2017 American Royal.

From the Heart sat down with our good friend Chef Tony to talk turkey and asked him a few question we thought you would want to know the answers to.

Q) Turkey is a very lean protein and when prepared correctly is moist and juicy. What are some ideas you can share about keeping turkey moist?

Chef Tony: The most important part is getting the internal temperature right. The breast needs to reach 165° at the thickest part and the thigh needs to reach 175°-179°. It’s cooked at 165°, but at 175°-179° it denatures and becomes more tender. Having a good meat thermometer is crucial. I always say, “a great thermometer will show how good you’re not.”

There is some carryover cooking that takes place once you remove the turkey from the heat source, but the temperatures will equalize. If you prepare a Butterball turkey to the correct temperature, the moisture is always perfect, no brining required.

Q) During PigAPalooza at the 2017 American Royal, OBR hosted the Butterball Turkey Challenge. I didn’t realize all the creative ways to prepare turkey and each entry was unique and tasted amazing. What is your favorite way to prepare turkey and why?

Chef Tony: Depending on the type, I have a few favorite ways to prepare turkey. For thigh meat, I love to barbecue it the same way you would a pork butt.

For a whole turkey, my most favorite is a spatchcock turkey. I remove the back bone, and lay the turkey out flat on the grill or smoker. It cuts the cook time by about 50%. The trick is to bank the coals, so the fire is one side of the grill. Place the turkey so the legs facing the fire and the breast is facing away from the fire. Since the legs need to cook to a higher temp, it keeps the heat concentrated where it needs to be.

For the rub, I always layer white, red, brown. I add black pepper to the white layer (the salt, garlic, onion, etc.) because it serves as a marker to check how even the distribution is. Next, the red layer goes on, and that’s where the spiciness comes in. My secret here is Old Bay seasoning, it imparts unbelievable flavor on turkey. Last is the brown layer, the sugars, which give it the browning and the bark.

Q) During the 2016 Hurricane Matthew deployment in Fayetteville, NC you deployed with us as a volunteer to prepare 118,700 hot BBQ meals. Can you share with us your experience and some things you came away with after this experience?

Chef Tony: It was a very humbling experience. When you handed someone the meals the requested and saw the expression on their face change from unbelievable sadness to a little glimmer of comfort, there was no other feeling like that.

And working with that team to prepare the meals was incredible. It was humbling to see the way everyone pulls together to make it happen. Being part of that team felt so good.

Q) Everyone has somebody that has influenced the path in life they have chosen. Who inspired you to enter into culinary arts?

Chef Tony: There are several people that helped lay the foundation that I’ve built my career on. My first influence was my family. I come from a big Italian family, so for holidays, especially Christmas, we would often have 60-65 people together for a meal. My mother and father and my grandmother were a big part of the cooking tradition.

In college, I was inspired by Lee and Mike Comisar at Maisonette and Chef Pierre Adrian. They guided me in the professional aspects of cooking. In fact, Lee was the one that directed me to the Culinary Institute of America.

When I chose to focus my career in the research and development space for large restaurant chains, Warren Leruth helped me hone those skills.

Chef Tony we appreciate you taking time to talk turkey with From the Heart and for being part of Team OBR.

Click Here for Chef Tony’s Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

If you need Turkey Help this Thanksgiving don’t forget the Butterball hotline!

Corporate Supporters



Join the #iamOBR movement with a tax deductible monthly contribution where you can select donation options to help support Operation BBQ Relief.


Operation BBQ Relief relies solely on volunteers like you. Whether you are a competition BBQ team, caterer, restaurateur or simply an individual or group wanting to help when disaster strikes, we want you to be a part of this rewarding experience in helping people.