Interview with Barbeque Pit Master Chris Barnes

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Your Name, Occupation? – Chris Barnes, delivery driver Royal Mail Group and founder
of the Oklahoma Joe’s Owners Club Facebook group.

Where do you live? – Fareham, Hampshire UK.

Rig/Cooking Gear? Oklahoma Joe’s Highland, 2 Weber kettles, ProQ bullet, UDS, Dancook
kettle, Jumbuck rotisserie and currently building an insulated reverse flow cabinet smoker.

How long have you been barbequing? Grilling, over 30 years, smoking, this is my 4th

Who do you cook for? Just family and friends at present, I enjoy going to competitions and festivals, and I’m booked to go on a judging course next month so who knows what else I might try out in the future?

Is there another BBQer that has inspired you or, gone out of their way to help?  Marcus Bawdon, editor of UK BBQ Mag and founder of the CountryWoodSmoke Facebook group. He is regarded as Mr. BBQ in the UK, his wide ranging knowledge and sharing of that knowledge with the UK BBQ community was a huge inspiration to me. As a consequence of my membership of CountryWoodSmoke, I have learned many of my smoking techniques and skills in a much shorter time than I would have from any other medium I have encountered. Marcus has also been very supportive to me in launching
and growing my various Facebook groups, so much so that it was almost embarrassing when Oklahoma Joe’s Owners Club overtook CountryWoodSmoke in size earlier this year.

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What do you like most about cooking barbeque? I love the whole thing, planning my cooks,
selecting my cuts of meat, prep work, fire management, temperature monitoring, and of course the serving of the end result. But if I had to nail it down to one thing, you can’t beat a cold beer with the smell of smoke….!

Your favorite cut of meat to cook, Why? Hard to nail down to a single favourite as I love smoked chicken, pulled pork, ABTs, links etc, but if I had to pick one it would be baby back ribs. They were the first cut of meat I smoked properly, the first that I nailed and the first that I learned to cook consistently to a high standard.

Favorite side dish(es)? Our slaw consumption has increased significantly over recent
years but I do love smoked corn too.

Favorite sauce? Sweet Baby Rays, perfect with baby back ribs!

Favorite rub? Guerrilla Powder from One Man BBQ Army. It was the first commercially
made rub I bought and I’m pleased to include its creator, Stevie Hayes as a friend.

Favorite charcoal? Restaurant grade lump wood charcoal and Aussie Heat Beads.

Favorite smoking wood? I really like fruit woods and my regulars are apple, cherry and
damson with poultry and pork, but I do like the subtlety of beech with some nice steaks or burgers.

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A funny story related to barbeque? My only funny stories relate to competitions and
festivals, and I’ve been sworn to secrecy by most of those involved! However, at the largest BBQ event in the UK, Grillstock, there is a hot wing round and one particular competitor, last year’s Grand Champion, Stevie Hayes, also of One Man BBQ Army fame, decided to offer hot wings coated with a sauce made of Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Scorpion chillis. It was so potent that it made a man in a wheelchair stand up screaming!

Any advice for people new to barbeque? Join a few Facebook groups and watch what goes
on in each one before you post or comment. You’ll soon find out which ones are constructive and helpful, and which ones aren’t! I set up Oklahoma Joe’s Owners Club when I bought my Highland as it was my first offset smoker and I wanted to learn more about getting the best from it. Barely a year later and we’ve got 13,500 members and hopefully it’s now helping many other people who are new to smoking in offsets.

Do you know a pitmaster with a story to tell? Contact me.

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