Last week I had the privilege of being able to embark on a little 2400 mile BBQ journey through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. There are a lot of stories to tell and I will cover the whole trip through multiple blogs. For this blog post I want to focus in on the Lotta Bull BBQ Competition class in Thackerville OK! For those of you not in the know, Mike and Debbie Davis are the most successful competition BBQ team in History, with over 75 Grand championships, Including 4 American Royal Grand Championships! The American Royal is the Largest BBQ contest in the world, attracting over 500 BBQ teams a year. Needless to say, when you have a chance to get in front of Mike and Debbie Davis of Lotta Bull BBQ, YOU DO IT!!! I learned a ton!
After my 21 hour drive with the BBQ Island trailer in tow, I arrived in Thackerville OK at 7:30 am, found a hotel, slept for 5 hours, and went out to the Winstar Casino for the class! There were about 30 people from all over the US and Canada, I was happy to see a familiar face in Tony Balay of Lonestar Smoke Rangers out of South Dakota whom I have competed against before. He is an awesome cook, and if you ever have the chance to meet him, ask him for some of his Salsa, it’s unreal!
Mike and Debbie are salt of the earth type folks. They were very warm and friendly with everyone and made us all feel very welcome. The facilities were awesome, we sat in rows at tables facing forward and Mike had a Camera aimed down at his prep area, which displayed on a large HD flatscreen above him for us to be able to see his processes. Outside sat the famous Lotta Bull BBQ Custom orange pit by Yoder Smokers (my new favorite pit builder J). It is a thing of beauty. Mike refers to it as “The Mistress” I might have to copy that. The class started at 4 pm and went until about ten. One thing that I really liked is how laid back Mike was in his teaching approach. He likes to interact with the students and teach them what they want to learn not what he wants you to learn. It keeps it entertaining and very easy to stay focused. Speaking of focus, its not easy to do on an empty stomach right? So when 6 pm rolled around, The Davis’s rolled out fresh grilled ribeye steaks from Strube ranch, with homemade sides and salads. WOW! First class operation all the way!
Ok, back to the class, When you watch this guy prep his BBQ, its very easy to tell that he knows what he is doing! He made everything look so easy. It was very hands on as well, you could always walk up to the front and look closer at his techniques, or if you wanted to trim something up, he would pass you the knife. It was great. The first day was spent mostly learning his methods of prep for the nights cook. We went through the four meats, and I have to tell you, he has some awesome tricks! I learned things that I don’t think I would have ever learned or picked up on my own had it not been for taking this class.
One other bonus of this class in particular was Mike and Debbies supporting cast for the class. They brought in the top people from their sponsors, and any of you that know BBQ, know companies such as Butchers BBQ, Kosmos BBQ, Yoder Smokers, and Texas Pepper Jelly. Dave Bouska of Butchers BBQ, Darian Kosmo Khosravi of Kosmos BBQ and Craig Sharry of Texas Pepper Jelly are all very well respected BBQ cooks and they all had a chance to teach us some things. WOW! Don Cary the owner of Yoder Smokers was also on hand with a bunch of goodies. These guys knew their stuff as well! Not to mention, they were very giving with their products, Mike and Debbie gave us an insane swag bag (Refer to Pic) and it was stuffed to the gills with product from these awesome companies. For that I say thank you, some of that stuff will be used in my next comp and I am excited to see how it does!
The next day the class started at 6 am so we could see his rib and chicken prep. For me, the class started at 9:00 am. My 21 hour drive had caught up to me and I didn’t hear a thing at 5:30am when my alarm went off. Luckily Mike West called me at 8:30 am and I was up and at em. That was pretty embarrassing walking into the class 3 hours late with the winningest man in BBQ standing at the front of the class looking at you along with everyone else in the room ;). I was ready to hear it, and I did ;) it was all in good fun though. Luckily I caught the tail end of the judging portion of the class. Two other folks that Mike brought in were Phillip and Kathy Brazier, they are very well respected KCBS reps and were kind enough to spend time with us explaining what goes on in the judging tent at contests. It was amazing information for us competition cooks, and was very good insight into the minds of the judges.
The best part of the class by far was getting to eat Mikes BBQ. I consider myself to be a pretty good BBQ cook, but man do I have a ways to go. The food was absolutely incredible, and learning Mike and Debbies technique for building a turn in box and for plating the food was invaluable.
If you ever have the chance to take this class, I HIGHLY recommend it! You will meet great BBQ cooks from all over the country, make some new friends, and learn from the best.
Keep on Cookin
would like to take the next cooking class