Behind the Pit interview with Big Swede Owner Johan Magnusson


Owner Name: Johan Magnusson

Age: 49

Location: Scottsdale, Arizona

Brand Name: Big Swede BBQ

IG Handle: BigSwedeBBQ


Has BBQ always been your passion, or did you have a career before?


My background is in corporate training and for many years I traveled around the world delivering classes for customers like Microsoft and GE – that is probably why I love doing cooking classes – combining two of my favorite things in the world, BBQ and teaching.


I’ve been cooking over an open fire since I was a kid but over these past three years, it has become so much more. I rediscovered BBQ after moving here from Sweden when I married my American wife. Soon after moving here, we started doing competitions. I really enjoy competitive BBQ, but I was so focused on BBQ and the competition that I didn’t have time to share the joy of BBQ with the public during an event. That is when we decided that Big Swede BBQ should be all about spreading the joy of cooking together with friends using fire and heat. So, that is why we started giving cooking classes, cooking demos, writing recipes and cooking hacks, shooting cooking videos and ultimately making BBQ rubs.


Our mission at Big Swede BBQ is to help people cook amazing food outdoors using great ingredients, simple step-by-step instructions and badass BBQ rubs.



How did you come up with the brand name "Big Swede BBQ”?


I am a big guy, and I am from Sweden – it wasn’t rocket science.



What is your most popular product and why do you think that is?


Our first product, The Big Swede BBQ Badass Beef Boost, is still our most popular product. I think this is mostly for two reasons:

1.     It is the product we have had longest on the market, so we have built up a great customer base of people who really like it.

2.     It is really BADASS!



What is the story behind creating that product?


It started simply as a hobby, I wanted to make a BBQ rub that I could give to my corporate customers as a gift. I experimented with different recipes for a long time. After a ton of attempts, I thought that I nailed it down. I turned my friends into “guinea pigs,” which includes some extraordinary pit masters, and had them try it. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, so we decided to manufacture it using a using a professional BBQ rub manufacturer. Eventually, I decided on Old World Spices, this was a great decision, they have been amazing to work with.


In October 2016, Big Swede BBQ launched its first product, The Big Swede BBQ Badass Beef Boost. Then, last year, things really took off when we took the chance and entered it in the American Royal rub contest. We placed 3rd in our category and 4th overall with the same score as number 2, but there are no ties in the BBQ world (we lost the coin flip) – but we are not bitter at all (LOL).


Do you have any new products in the works, and can you share any details?


Since the Badass Beef Boost, we’ve launch a bird (chicken), pork and veggie boost. However, we are currently in development of our next boost, the Badass Texas Boost. It will be a classic SPG (salt, pepper, garlic) rub; a great all-round rub giving those bold and strong Texas flavors to any type of meat. It is scheduled for release in early summer.


We are also in the initial planning stages of a Badass Fish Boost. In Sweden, we eat a lot of seafood, and I mean A LOT of seafood, this rub will help me stay true to my Swedish roots.



What do you think people love most about your brand?


I hope people like our brand for three reasons:

1.     They like what we do. – They use our rubs, recipes, videos and tips because they feel these can help them take their outdoor cooking to the next level.

2.     They feel our passion. - We love BBQ, we love cooking, and we love to help people cook better.

3.     They connect with us. - We don’t take ourselves to seriously, and we don’t have a lot of ego. We do this simply because we think it’s fun, plus we enjoy hanging out and working with awesome people.


What makes your cooking class events so unique?


We really enjoy doing cooking classes. There is something magical when people discover new flavors or realize that great flavors are achievable with good ingredients, good tools and simple steps.


I think what makes our cooking classes different is that both my cooking partner, MacMurray Kirschner, and I have many years of experience speaking and teaching in front others. It is one thing to be a great cook, but to also be a great cooking teacher you must create an experience where people have fun and enjoy themselves. I think we are good at doing just that. Second, Mac and I really complement each other well and this shows in our classes. Mac is the encyclopedia and technician of cooking while I am the travel guide and entertainer. Together it just works.


Do you have any words of wisdom for those who are looking to make a name for themselves in the world of Barbecue?


Be genuinely nice and sincere towards people and they will be a great help. Let’s face it, we tend to do more for people we like, and we like people in a direct proportion to how they make us feel. My personal motto has always been, “good thing happens to good people.” BBQ is all about family, friends and a sense of community. So, help other people out, share your best tips and tricks, and invest time helping others succeed. This will be rewarding for you and others.


Do you want to say anything to your fans, followers, and supporters?


We love feedback!!! Feedback tells me how I can improve, and I always want to improve. So, let us know how you think we can do better. What can we do to improve our classes? How can we improve our videos? What recipes do you want us to share? Which type of rub do you think we should create? Dialogue is key for us to develop, and we wouldn’t be anything without the vibrant community of #badassboosters that have helped us along the way.



Closing Thoughts:


We are incredibly grateful for all the support and love that we get from the #badassboosters community. We are humbled and grateful, and we will do our best to continue evolving and improving. We love hanging out with great people. We love spreading the gospel of grilling and BBQ. Of course, we LOVE cooking with fire. I want to wish everybody “Happy Grilling in 2019.” Now, start your fires and let the good smoke roll!!!

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