October 27, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Blog Has Moved to Its New Home - http://www.porkbarrelbbq.com/blog/

The Pork Barrel BBQ Blog Has Moved to Its New Home - please visit us at http://www.porkbarrelbbq.com/blog/

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October 21, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Shark Tank Follow-up

Pork Barrel BBQ was featured last night on ABC's Shark Tank - click on the video below to watch the clip!

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October 20, 2009

Welcome Shark Tank Visitors!

Welcome Shark Tank visitors to the Pork Barrel BBQ blog! Looking to buy our award winning Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub? Visit our online store at http://www.PorkBarrelBBQ.com! Be sure sign up for our mailing list or check back often for updates on our Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant coming Spring 2010! Also, please follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/porkbarrelbbq. Thanks for your support!

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October 13, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ at a Harris Teeter Near You!

Looking to try some Pork Barrel BBQ? We're coming to a local Harris Teeter near you! Harris Teeter has been a huge supporter of our business and has given us the chance to sample our products in their stores in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Its an amazing experience to walk into a Harris Teeter and get to see our products on their shelves, and even more fun when we get to sample our products for their customers. We are going to be in four Virginia stores this weekend, and many more to come in coming weeks! Here are some photos from our product demos over the past few weeks - thanks to Harris Teeter for this tremendous opportunity!

Brett, Bill Blackburn and Ali in Alexandria store!

Heath at our first demo in the Tysons Corner store

Heath getting our award winning products cooking!

Always have fun to have friends read our Tweets and come visit us in DC!

Everyone likes to see the cool pig trophy!

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October 11, 2009

The Del Ray BBQ Boys Celebrate Their New Restaurant (and a food writer inadvertently becomes part of the story)

Here's an amazing post by Jordan Wright over at whiskandquill.com!

The Del Ray BBQ Boys Celebrate Their New Restaurant

(and a food writer inadvertently becomes part of the story)

Jordan Wright

Whisk and Quill - http://whiskandquill.com/?p=1039

October 2009
Investor "Mango" Mike and wife Donna with their Pork Barrel BBQ bus - photo by Jordan Wright
I arrived early on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray last week. Brett Thompson and Heath Hall, creators and owners of Pork Barrel BBQ were setting up the tables, pitching the tent and catching up with old friends and supporters in anticipation of the day’s groundbreaking ceremony for their new restaurant venture. In July I wrote about the “Del Ray BBQ Boys”, as I had nicknamed them, for localkicks.com after meeting them and sampling their delicious wares at National Harbor’s Food and Wine Festival. NBC News Washington had picked up my story and it had skyrocketed to tens of thousands more “eyes” on it.

Thompson walked over and said, “This restaurant is all because of you and your story about us. We want to thank you.”

Stunned, I stammered, “What are you talking about?”

“Well, “Mango” Mike read your story on us,” he revealed. (“Mango” Mike, of the eponymous restaurant on Duke Street.) “He googled it up and that’s how he found out about us and offered to back us in this restaurant.”

cut the ribbon with Mayor Bill Euille (center) - Photo Credit Jordan Wright

cut the ribbon with Mayor Bill Euille (center) - Photo Credit Jordan Wright

Of course it was also because back in September they had appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank series and considerably more people had come to know them and their story as former Hill staffers and Virginia-based entrepreneurs.

I looked around at their dream come true. On hand were Alexandria’s Mayor, Bill Euille, Vice Mayor, Kerry Donnelly, Councilman Frank Fannon and Linda and Steve Hubbard, dressed in their UPS chocolate brown and gold uniforms, who own the fulfillment center, where over 1,000 bottles and jars of Pork Barrel BBQ’s fabulous sauce and rub are shipped to eager customers around the country. Everyone came ready to cheer on the boys. Restaurant backers “Mango” Mike and Bill Blackburn, arriving in their massive gold touring bus, were doing the meet-and-greet, while pork smokers wafted waves of heavenly barbecue aroma over the crowd of supporters who milled around with neighborhood business owners and Del Ray’s artsy crowd.

Breaking ground in Del Ray with ABC's Shark Hunt film crew  - photo by Jordan Wright

Breaking ground in Del Ray with ABC's Shark Hunt film crew - photo by Jordan Wright

A couple of local newspaper publishers doing their own event coverage added to the eclectic local crowd along with a “P-O-R-K” fan club made up of four skinny half-naked pig-snouted students from Bishop Ireton High School, all eager to be in on the celebration and tasting. It was the usual set up for a groundbreaking. Golden shovels and giant scissors gleamed in the warm September sun.

But one thing was different…stunningly noticeably different…from any other ribbon cutting in any other town in North America, or the world for that matter.

Because, for this small groundbreaking ceremony for two nice guys in business for less than a year, taking place in a small suburb of Alexandria, Virginia across from the local farmers market held on Saturday mornings in a dentist’s parking lot, Hollywood was on site to cover it. Big time!

ABC’s Shark Tank film crew had shown up full tilt with cameraman, soundman and microphones to record the event for a later show in the boys continuing success saga; and invitees, who knew about the planned coverage in advance, were checking out the action…playing it cool for the cameras.

Pork Barrel BBQ Fan Club chows down - Photo Credit Jordan Wright

Pork Barrel BBQ Fan Club chows down - Photo Credit Jordan Wright

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October 4, 2009

Photos of Pork Barrel BBQ on Fox and Friends!

Things have been a bit busy at Pork Barrel BBQ - but under the better late than never approach, we wanted to share some photos of our adventure to New York with the awesome folks at Fox & Friends!

Here's the Pork Barrel BBQ team (Mango Mike, Bill Blackburn, our incredible distributor Tim Ashman, Brett and Heath) with Fox & Friends Alisyn Camerota, Clayton Morris, Dave Briggs and Rick Reichmuth !

Here we are filming one of our segments - they are trying our award winning Pork Barrel BBQ!

We arrived at midnight the evening before filming to check out Times Square - here's the Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant group - Brett, Bill, Heath (is that a Pat Green shirt?) and Mango Mike!

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September 24, 2009

Former Senate staffers launch barbecue company - TheHill.com

Former Senate staffers launch barbecue company - TheHill.com

Former Senate staffers launch barbecue company

By Kris Kitto - 09/23/09 06:49 PM ET

It was 1 o’clock in the morning, and Heath Hall and Brett Thompson were in Russell Senate Office Building Room 493, watching yet another debate over pork-barrel spending.

All they could think about was barbecue from their home state of Missouri.

Sadly, they were eating Armand’s pizza — again — one of the few late-night options on Capitol Hill. As the lawmakers droned on, Hall and Thompson lamented the limited barbecue offerings in Washington.

It was then that the pie-in-the-sky idea hit them. Pork Barrel BBQ — that would be a good name for a barbecue company!

Three years later, Hall and Thompson, both 35, have guided their fledgling company on a path neither one imagined on that seminal night. They have won prestigious taste awards and appeared on national television on account of their barbecue rub and sauce, and are poised to expand their sales and open a restaurant in Alexandria.

The duo got perhaps their biggest boost earlier this month when they appeared on ABC’s new show “Shark Tank,” which puts entrepreneurs before a panel of potential investors. Pork Barrel BBQ came away with a $50,000 investment from New York real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran (though Hall’s ego may have taken a loss, as Corcoran prefaced her offer by telling him, “I can’t look at you without picturing you in a pig costume”).

Hall and Thompson’s barbecue dream has meant spending hundreds of dollars of their own money to buy spices for flavor experimentation, pulling pork at 3 a.m. to prepare for event tastings and working grocery-store sample tables on holidays — all while holding down full-time jobs.

“I cooked, I calculated, a half-ton of pork over the last two and half months,” said Thompson, sitting with Hall last week at an Alexandria coffee shop just steps from the site of the restaurant. The two were headed to New York shortly thereafter for an appearance on the Saturday edition of Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” morning show.

Thompson was Sen. Jim Talent’s (R-Mo.) legislative director in the Senate, Hall a legislative assistant.

But the two lost their Senate jobs when Talent was defeated in 2006. Thompson now works as a lobbyist at IGR Group, and Hall is a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.

Though the food industry provides an unlikely segue for departing congressional staffers, both Thompson and Hall have personal histories that give sense to their latest move.

“I was the kid that had the lemonade stand that would stay out after dark for the extra $5,” Thompson said. He went on to start two other small companies — a cake business in college that catered to parents looking for something sweet to send their homesick co-eds, and a music recording company he started after college.

Hall, meanwhile, has always loved food. He comes from a family that enjoys cooking, and he once had an idea for a restaurant in high school after burning a pot while making his famed queso dip.
“My mom said something like, ‘You’ve got to come clean this scorched pot — you guys did it,’ ” he recalled. “And I was like, ‘Oh, “Scorched Pot,” ’ ” — though that restaurant never

Despite Thompson’s early entrepreneurship and Hall’s gastronomical interests — he at one point considered culinary school — they both pursed politics.

Thompson met Talent as a high school sophomore and shortly thereafter began volunteering on his first campaign for a House seat. He worked for Talent through college and law school. When his boss landed in the Senate in 2002, he followed.

Hall interned for John Ashcroft, then a Missouri senator, while in college and returned to Washington after law school, at which time he also won a spot in Talent’s Senate office.

The senator quickly caught on to Hall’s love of food. Hall is known to grow several varieties of tomatoes outside his Washington home, and Talent once e-mailed him during a plane trip over a South Iraq tomato field to tell him he’d found a place where Hall could work after the Senate.

Once they left the Senate, they began experimenting with spice rubs, inviting friends over for their “Kitchen Cabinet” tastings.

Former Rep. Max Sandlin (D-Texas), with whom Thompson now works at IGR, was one of the early fans.

“I’m from Texas, and I know barbecue,” Sandlin said in a phone interview. “It’s like politics in this way: You need a good product, hard work and a little love — and I think they have all three.”

Sandlin has shown up so frequently at Pork Barrel BBQ’s tastings that Hall and Thompson have begun to refer to him jokingly as their international chairman. Sandlin has also been sending the rubs and sauces as gifts to friends and family.

Apparently Talent is a fan, too. On the Pork Barrel BBQ website, one customer testimonial reads, “I used the All American Spice Rub to grill chicken for my teenage daughters — they said it was the best chicken I have ever made — I’m a customer for life!”

The comment came courtesy of a Jim from St. Louis. Talent is from St. Louis and has two daughters. (Hall and Thompson laughed as they admitted that this was Talent.)

Pork Barrel BBQ continues to ride its wave of success. It won the Taste of Del Ray (Alexandria) 2009 People’s Choice Award earlier this month and placed second in the Best BBQ Sauce category and fourth in the Pulled Pork category at the Safeway National Capital BBQ Battle in June. The products are now available online and in 65 stores in four states and Washington. And the Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant, being launched jointly with the owners of Alexandria’s Mango Mike’s restaurant, is set to open in spring 2010.

Hall and Thompson have finally answered that question about good, local barbecue that they pondered as Senate staffers in 2006 — to the point that it has become their lives. Will they ever get sick of eating barbecue?

Said Hall, “Never.”

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All Eyes On: Heath Hall - TruLife

All Eyes On: Heath Hall - TruLife

All Eyes On: Heath Hall

By: Emma Mueller

Posted: 9/24/09

Oink. Oink. Oink. No, it isn't H1N1 that has people talking. Pork Barrel BBQ, co-founded by Truman alumnus Heath Hall, has been gaining quite the buzz lately.

Hall, an employee of former Missouri Senator Jim Talent, created the company along with Brett Thompson in the winter of 2006. Not only will they open a restaurant in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Va. this spring, but Pork Barrel BBQ also holds the No. 1 spot for barbecue on Twitter with 18,000 followers.

Hall said the idea for the business resulted from a late night craving for some barbecue during a Senate budget debate.

"While the Senate was debating pork-barrel spending projects and earmarks, we were debating what we were going to have for dinner that night," Hall said. "I had pizza for about four or five nights in a row and, coming from Missouri, I was like 'Man, wouldn't it be great if there were a barbecue restaurant somewhere in the neighborhood?' There wasn't anything good in the neighborhood, so we started thinking 'Pork barrel spending, pork-barrel barbecue.'"

Hall turned his small glimmer of an idea into a successful establishment. Pork Barrel BBQ consists of two products: a barbecue sauce and an all-American spice rub. The products are made with all-natural ingredients and contain no preservatives or MSG. Hall doesn't classify Pork Barrel BBQ sauce as one particular style, but instead said it reflects his roots: politics.

"We'll be able to bring a little bit of all the styles of barbecue to the restaurant," Hall said. "Obviously, Brett and I being from Missouri, we are kind of schooled in the Kansas City style, but we want to be able to hopefully let them [the customers] recall some memories of their favorite [barbecue] restaurant back home."

The restaurant will feature sauces from all regions of the country, not just the Kansas City influence.

"We're going to have Carolina vinegar sauce and a Carolina barbecue sauce," Hall said. "Our original sauce I would classify somewhere between the Kansas City and Texas style sauce. It's a smoky, tangy sauce. It's got a little bit of heat, but it's not super hot. We're going to be doing a hot sauce, a sweeter sauce and a mango-chipotle barbecue sauce."

In addition to their brand new restaurant "Pork Barrel BBQ" opening this spring, Hall and Thompson were featured on the ABC show "Shark Tank," which allows entrepreneurs to pitch their idea in front of five investors in the hopes that their idea will be backed financially by one or more of the investors.

"It was really a shock to us when we got an e-mail and a call from Mark Burnett Productions saying that they've been following our company," Hall said. "Three weeks later we finished about 50 pages of paperwork, a five-minute audition tape and got the call back from them that they were interested in us coming out. It was a pretty interesting experience.

"The opportunity for this level of exposure was something Hall said he never thought he would achieve. Hall said not only did they have their very own Hollywood star trailer, complete with their names on the door, but he and Thompson also were sworn to secrecy for two months until the show aired.

"Out of the five sharks, we ended up getting a deal with Barbara Corcoran, who is a real estate mogul from New York," Hall said. "She gave us $50,000 for a 50 percent stake in the company, and we're really excited to work with her. She's a real shark, a real go-getter. We're still trying to finalize everything, but we're sure it's going to be a great partnership.

"Even with all the new opportunities that have resulted because of one late night idea, Hall always has had a love for food, especially barbecue.

"My dad has always been known as the post office guy of barbecue," Hall said. "He's always barbecuing in rain, sleet, snow, summer, winter, fall, spring. It doesn't matter, he's always out there on the grill. So a lot of my love for barbecue came from him."

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September 19, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ on FOX and Friends on Fox News Network!

Fresh off their experience on ABC's Shark Tank, the Pork Barrel BBQ Team traveled to New York City this morning to cook for the great folks at FOX and Friends! Alisyn Camerota, Clayton Morris, Dave Briggs and Rick Reichmuth were so much fun and huge thanks to Samantha and Toba for meeting us at 5 am to start cooking Pork Barrel BBQ! We'll post photos and video from our adventure (including a trip on Mango Mike's Pork Barrel 1 bus!) in the coming days, but wanted to share the great clip here:

Also, craziness ensued in the FOX and Friends After the Show Show:

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September 4, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Wins the Taste of Del Ray 2009 Peoples Choice Award

We are proud to announce that last night Pork Barrel BBQ won the Del Ray Business Association's Taste of Del Ray People's Choice Award. The Taste of Del Ray brings restaurants throughout the Del Ray Neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia, together to provide samples of their food - we gave out over 400 servings of our award winning pulled pork sandwiches and Mango Mike's bourbon bread pudding. The Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant is currently under construction and will open next spring on Mt. Vernon Avenue next to St. Elmo's Coffee Pub and The Dairy Godmother.

We'd like to give special thanks to the Del Ray Business Association and Gayle Reuter for hosting such a great evening, Mary Abraham and Eric Reid of Del Merei Grill for organizing the event, Christie Hart and Executive Chef Will Artley from the Evening Star Cafe for showing us the ropes (this was their 11th year!), and Sheriff Dana Lawhorne for keeping us all safe (see below)!

Mango Mike Anderson and Heath Hall survey the line outside the Pork Barrel BBQ booth!

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September 3, 2009

The Foodventure Blog Blogs on Pork Barrel BBQ - Check Them Out!!!

Head over to our friend Katie's food blog - The Foodventure - and read her awesome blog on Pork Barrel BBQ opening its first restaurant in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA.

After you've had a chance to read her post on Pork Barrel BBQ stick around and read her other great posts on food - it really is and should be an adventure for each of us. She's also got some really great food pictures on the site. Check it out - The Foodventure.

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September 2, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ to Appear on ABC's Shark Tank - Sunday, September 13th at 9pm EST/8pm CST

Be sure to watch Pork Barrel BBQ's Heath Hall and Brett Thompson battle with the Sharks on Shark Tank on ABC Sunday, September 13th at 9pm EST/8pm CST! To learn more about Pork Barrel BBQ, visit www.PorkBarrelBBQ.com.

To learn more about Shark Tank visit abc.com or watch the following video:

Be sure to check back often for updates about Pork Barrel BBQ's Shark Tank experience!!

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August 31, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant Coming to Del Ray Neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia

Pork Barrel BBQ Teams with Mango Mike’s Mike Anderson, and Bill Blackburn to Bring Award Winning BBQ to Washington, D.C. Region

Pork Barrel BBQ is pleased to announce that we have teamed with Mike Anderson and Bill Blackburn, two of the area’s top restaurateurs, to bring a Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant to the Del Ray Neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia. The restaurant, which is currently under construction, will be in the heart of Del Ray on Mt. Vernon Avenue near St. Elmo's Coffee Pub and The Dairy Godmother.

“We are honored to team with Mike Anderson and Bill Blackburn who have decades of success running restaurants and are leaders in the Alexandria community,” said Brett Thompson, CEO of Pork Barrel BBQ, and a Del Ray resident.

Heath Hall, Mike Anderson, Bill Blackburn and Brett Thompson at the site of the new Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant in the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

“Heath and Brett know award winning BBQ, and Bill and I know how to run great restaurants – this is a perfect combination and we can’t wait for our Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant to open its doors next spring,” said Mike Anderson, founder of Mango Mike’s, which has been operating in Alexandria since 1996. “Del Ray has been waiting a long time for great BBQ, and we are excited to team with the Del Ray BBQ Boys in bringing Pork Barrel BBQ to the neighborhood,” said Bill Blackburn.

"Brett and I are excited about the opportunity to bring Pork Barrel BBQ to Del Ray and we can't imagine better partners to do it with than Mike and Bill," said Heath Hall, President of Pork Barrel BBQ.

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August 27, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Now Available in 65 Stores in 4 States and Washington, D.C.

We are proud to announce that our Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub are now available in 65 stores in Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina and Florida. For pork, beef, poultry and fish, our Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub is the perfect way to give your food a tangy, tasty flavor with a perfect smokin' kick! Click here to order our award winning products! Pork Barrel BBQ is now available at Harris Teeter, Ukrop's, Balducci's Food Lover's Market, Wagshals, Let's Meat on the Avenue, The Organic Butcher of McLean, and The Art of BBQ (in St. Augustine, Florida)! Here's a map and link to our retail locations:

Pork Barrel BBQ Retail Locations

Buy Your Pork Barrel BBQ Picnic Pack for Your Labor Day BBQ

If you want to try both the Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub - click here to get the Pork Barrel BBQ Picnic Pack - a bottle of sauce and jar of rub for ONLY $10!

Pork Barrel BBQ Picnic Pack

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August 26, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Now Available at Ukrop's Stores in Richmond and Tidewater Region

Travelling down to Richmond or Tidewater area of Virginia and forgot your Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce? Don't worry - just head to you local Ukrop's super markets and get a bottle of the Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce or All American Spice Rub! We are incredibly grateful that Ukrop's would carry our products in 18 of their super markets - please be sure to visit and tell them thanks for supporting Pork Barrel BBQ!

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August 22, 2009

Great Article - Kansas City barbecue, the art of the heartland

I have to admit, I don't usually read, or think good things about the Los Angeles Times - but I have to give huge credit to Catharine Hamm, who really seems very wise. At Pork Barrel BBQ, as two guys from Missouri, we love Kansas City style BBQ - especially Oklahoma Joes, Arthur Bryant's. Gates and Jack Stacks - read this article to understand her brilliance!

Kansas City barbecue, the art of the heartland

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Please don't tell the family this, but they're not the only reason I return to Kansas City whenever I can. I love them, of course, but I can talk to them on the phone. We can e-mail. We can Twitter, for crying out loud.

But barbecue is something you have to do in person. And it is best done here in the heartland. Sorry, Santa Maria, Calif. No disrespect to your juicy tri-tip. Forgive me, Lexington, N.C. Your pulled pork is fabulous. And a tip of the hat to you, Memphis, Tenn. Ribs at the Rendezvous are always memorable.

But Kansas City has made an art of this science of slow-smoked meats. So when business brought me back for 36 hours, I knew I could partake at least five times - if I didn't mind barbecue for a late breakfast. And I didn't, mostly. But I'll explain that in a minute.

What I want to explain now is how Kansas City became a barbecue mecca and why you're not going to hear me talk extensively about Arthur Bryant's or Gates.

The barbecue legend started with Henry Perry, who is said to have opened a barbecue shack in the early 1900s in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Perry had an employee, Charlie Bryant, who eventually bought him out. Bryant had a brother, Arthur, who took over, opening what writer Calvin Trillin called the best restaurant in the world: the self-named barbecue apex that's been at 18th and Brooklyn for a half-century or so.

Bryant's has it all: the feel of a joint that's just this side of grubby, the ribs that are just this side of heaven, which is where Arthur Bryant (and his brother and his brother's former boss) now reside, I am certain. Taste the ribs or the sliced meats (or get them to go in the butcher paper) and you cannot help but believe.

Gates, meanwhile, traces its roots to George Gates, who also is said to have worked with Henry Perry. When you enter any Gates restaurant (there are six, including one up the street from Bryant's), you're greeted with, "Hi, may I help you?" which always unnerves me because I'm usually having a mental tussle: ribs? Burnt ends? Sliced beef sandwich?

There's really no wrong answer. In nearly 20 years of Gates-going, I have never had anything less than fabulous, smoky, rich, and tender.

So in this discussion of barbecue, let's put aside Bryant's and Gates, because you cannot top perfection.

But you can compete with it. And in this last trip (and two before it), I ate my approximate weight in barbecue just to see if I could find a contender or two.

If you're K.C.-bound this year - and you'll find plenty to love about it if you are, including that prices for these feasts often run less than $15 a plate - I offer these suggestions, old and new, fancy and not. My list is by no means complete, because there are said to be about 80 barbecue places here, although recent news reports suggest the economy may have finished off a few of them.

Fiorella's Jack Stack

If you're in the mood for Spanish Moorish architecture and many of the city's 200 fountains, choose the Jack Stack on the Country Club Plaza.

Up till this trip, I'd eaten at the Stack's at 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park, Kan., and I loved the food. But this time, I chose the Country Club Plaza location in Kansas City, Mo., for a dinner with my cousins and my adopted aunt.

For every meal on this trip, I ordered burnt ends, which are a tribute to Arthur Bryant, who is credited with figuring out that chopping off and serving the crispy parts of the brisket could delight the masses.

Burnt ends aren't incinerated the way a burger gets when it's too close to the flame. The best ones are tender in the right spots and chewy-charred in spots. Jack Stack's were right on. (The Poor Russ sandwich is made of burnt ends, and previous encounters with that gets my stamp of approval.)

Stack's also has ribs: pork and beef, of course, and also crown prime rib and lamb, which I've not tried. The sides are stupendous: The beans have a wonderful smoky flavor, and the cheesy corn bake side dish is so good I'd go just for that.

Stack's Plaza location is the kind of place you'd take out-of-town guests if you were trying to show them everything that's right with Kansas City. The decor is rich and warm and unobtrusive.

The Plaza is also close to my new favorite place to stay (next to Chez Cousin, of course). Southmoreland on the Plaza, 116 E. 46th St., 816-531-7979, www.southmoreland.com, is a 12-room (plus Carriage House) B&B full of antiques.

I stayed in the Satchel Paige room. With a business rate of $109 and a breakfast worth getting out of bed for (great muffins, pastries and quiche), I found it more than satisfactory.

Danny Edwards

I'd regret my full breakfast only slightly upon arriving at Danny Edwards a little after 11 a.m. Every one of the 70 or so seats was taken, and when a table opened, my college friend Cindy and I grabbed it.

This Southwest Boulevard location in Kansas City, Mo., is new for Danny Edwards, whose father, Jake, was a barbecue legend. Danny (also known as Lil Jake) moved out of an 18-seat downtown shop a couple of years ago to this exposed-beam spot where "Gary B!" and "Mike W!" ring out as heaping plates of ribs and sandwiches come pouring out.

A bite of the burnt ends explained why Gary B and Mike W and, on this day, Cindy M and I were crowding the place: They were crispy-chewy with just the right amount of sauce. I think I am in love. Again.

Brobecks Barbeque

Please, purists, don't hurt me. I tried Brobecks in Johnson County, which opened in November 2007, and I liked it. A lot. The problem: Brobecks is not, strictly speaking, Kansas City barbecue. Instead, it relies on rubs, not sauces (although it has sauces too).

So I strayed off the farm and tried this Tennessee barbecue. I had the Tennessee Porker - pulled pork - and it was worth every guilty mouthful. But I also did the burnt-end dinner (served dry, without sauce) and found it delicious.

We also loved the steak fries and, most of all, the homemade potato chips, and Cindy noted that Brobecks gets extra credit because it offers dessert. We had to skip it because we were headed to our next stop.

Hayward's Pit Bar-B-Que

Minutes before the clock struck 9 p.m., we walked into Hayward's, also in south Johnson County. I'm sure the folks would rather have stuck shards of glass in their eyes than serve one more customer, but we were on a mission, and they were gracious.

I've been a big Hayward's fan almost since it opened in 1972 about two miles north of where it is now. I've never had a bad bit of barbecue there, but that night wasn't the best I've ever had (though we did love the sweet potato fries). The 220-seat restaurant is not too jointy, not too snooty - you could take the in-laws and they'd feel comfortable.

We were near Gates (the Leawood location). I wanted to try it again. Or we could swing over to Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City, Kan. Maybe we could make it to 85th Street and B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ in Kansas City, Mo., where the smoking pit is more than a half-century old. But I just couldn't. One more mouthful and I was sure I was going to drop dead.

At least I would have died happy.

Know Your Barbecue Styles

The word "barbecue" is thought to have derived from the Taino and Carib peoples of the Caribbean and South America, who slowly roasted meats over a bed of coals called a barbricot, which the Spanish pronounced "barbacoa."

In his book Savage Barbecue, author Andrew Warnes theorizes that Europeans who encountered this way of cooking mixed the word "barbacoa" with "barbarian," and the word "barbecue" was born.

It's not always easy to say what barbecue is, but purists will say what it is not: It is not grilling meat over an open flame. Barbecue is a slow method of cooking - low heat, lots of time, lots of patience. Sauce may play a part, but might not be part of the cooking process.

Here's a look at some of the regional differences.

Kansas City Barbecue. The sauce tends to be tomato-based, with molasses or brown sugar. It doesn't soak in; it sits on top. Meat may be beef, pork or poultry.

Texas Barbecue. Beef brisket is king, and the sauce is spicier and thinner than the K.C. version.

South Carolina Barbecue. This is pork (shredded or pulled), and the sauce might be yellow, because it's mustard-based. Coleslaw is part of the picture.

North Carolina Barbecue. Sauce tends to be more vinegar-based, with pepper. In the western part of the state, it may have a hint of tomato.

Memphis Barbecue. Relies on spiced rubs; sauce may be an afterthought.

Kansas City-Area Spots

Fiorella's Jack Stack
4747 Wyandotte St.
Kansas City, Mo.

Other locations:

13441 Holmes Rd.
Kansas City, Mo.

101 W. 22d St.
Kansas City, Mo.

9520 Metcalf Ave.
Overland Park, Kan.


4615 Indian Creek Parkway
Overland Park, Kan.

Danny Edwards

2900 Southwest Blvd.
Kansas City, Mo.


11051 S. Antioch
Overland Park, Kan.


1325 E. Emanuel Cleaver Blvd.
Kansas City, Mo.

Other locations:

1221 Brooklyn Ave.
Kansas City, Mo.

10440 E. 40 Highway
Independence, Mo.

3205 Main St.
Kansas City, Mo.

201 W. 103d
(103d and State Line)
Leawood, Kan.

1026 State Ave.
Kansas City, Kan.

Arthur Bryant's

1727 Brooklyn Ave.
Kansas City, Mo.

Other locations:

1702 Village West Parkway
Kansas City, Kan.

3200 N. Ameristar Dr.
Kansas City, Mo.

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August 21, 2009

My perfect sandwich - Prime Smoked Brisket at Wagshals

Pork Barrel BBQ had the chance to taste perfection the other day - Wagshals Prime Smoked Brisket sandwich. Bill Fuchs has spent the last two years of his life on a quest to perfect this recipe - the brisket cures for 55 days - and get this - he has done over 100 batches to test this recipe. I'm not even sure if they carry this on the menu (yet) - but be sure to stop by Wagshals and ask when you can try this little bit of heaven!

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August 19, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Now Available at Harris Teeter Stores in Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland!

Looking for Pork Barrel BBQ at a store near you? Visit your local Harris Teeter - and you can find both our Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub in Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland. Click here for local Harris Teeter locations near you!

We will be visiting Harris Teeter stores throughout the Washington D.C. area over the next few weeks to give samples of our products - be sure to check here on the blog or on Twitter to find out our schedule. A BIG thanks to Harris Teeter for carrying our BBQ sauce and rub!

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August 16, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Now Available at Balducci's Food Lover's Market

We are proud to announce that Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub is now available at Balducci's Food Lover's Market in Virginia and Maryland. They have amazing stores in Alexandria, McLean and Bethesda - to find their nearest location to pick up your Pork Barrel BBQ products click here.

Also, be sure to check out their great website at http://www.balduccis.com/. Here is our Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce on the shelves!

And our All American Spice Rub!

A HUGE thanks to Balducci's for taking a chance on us and carrying Pork Barrel BBQ products - please be sure to visit their Virginia and Maryland locations!

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Pork Barrel BBQ CEO's Mom Gets a Weber Genesis 300 Series Gas BBQ Grill

While on vacation at his parents house in Florida, Pork Barrel BBQ CEO's Mom asked for a new grill. We picked her up a Weber Genesis 300 Series Gas Grill - here's a video on the easy set-up of this cool gas grill. Want more on bbq grills and bbq smokers? Visit http://www.PorkBarrelBBQ.com or http://www.porkbarrelbbq.blogspot.com. Also be sure to visit Weber at http://www.weber.com.

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Pork Barrel BBQ's Secret Hamburger Soup Recipe with Video

Here is an updated post of a family favorite - Pork Barrel BBQ's Secret Hamburger Soup Recipe - the entire family will love it - recipe below and a video on how to cook it!

1 Yellow Onion
1 lb Bag Carrots
1 Stalk Celery
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Lb Ground GRASSFED Meat or Lamb (needed for flavor)
3 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1 Cup Short Grain Brown Rice
1 Tb Dried Ground Thyme
1 Tb Dried Organic
3 Tb Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Pepper


Chop onion into small pieces, peel and cut carrots (small pieces), and peel and cut celery (small pieces) and dice garlic.

Heat Olive Oil in Large Stock Pot.

Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic to pan. Add salt and pepper. Cook at medium heat for 10 minutes until soft.

Add Ground Beef or Lamb and cook until brown. Add 1/2 of Thyme and Oregano and stir.

Add rice and chicken stock. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 45 to 1 hour - until rice is tender.

Once rice is tender, add remainder of Thyme and Oregano and stir.. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy - and best of all - only one pot to clean up!

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August 14, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Now Available in Washington D.C. at Wagshal's Market and Deli

Pork Barrel BBQ is proud to announce that Wagshal's, the premiere Washington D.C. butcher, market, deli and caterer now carries our award winning Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub. We are very grateful and humbled that Bill, Brian and Aaron Fuchs, the owners of Wagshals, would carry our products. We are pretty crazy about BBQ, but I can honestly say that I've never 'met people so committed to unique, high quality foods as the folks at Wagshal's. They gave us a great tour, fed us smoked prime brisket sandwich (more on that in a future post), and sent us home with Iberico Pork to cook (they are the only place in the United States to offer Iberico pork). Here's a shot of their deli managed by Brian Fuchs and his team:

Another shot of the deli:

Heath and Brian Fuchs looking at their special line of ready to eat gourmet foods:

They also have a huge catering operation, and are especially great at catering upscale weddings:

Here's a shot inside their catering kitchen - be sure to note Bill Fuchs' modified smoker in the corner (I was CRAZY jealous of it):

Oh, did I mention that they have some of the highest quality, unique cuts of meat in all of Washington D.C.? Here's Heath and Aaron Fuchs with some great dry aged beef:

What is happiness? Having a great meal at Wagshal's with Bill, Brian and Aaron Fuchs - be sure to visit them in Washington D.C. and learn all about them at http://www.Wagshals.com or visit them on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/wagshals

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The Making of Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce!

How do you make BBQ sauce for thousands of people? Get to know Tim Ashman and Ashman Manufacturing in Virginia Beach, Virginia! Here's a video of Pork Barrel BBQ's trip down to take their award winning Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and bottle it so you can have it in your home! Order your Pork Barrel BBQ sauce here!

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What Pork Barrel BBQ is Eating - Beef Tenderloin, Rosemary Red Potatoes, Vegetable Ratatouille, and Corn on the Cob

I'm down on vacation in Florida with my parents, but somehow I still was pulled into cooking! We had a nice meal of beef tenderloin, rosemary red potatoes, vegetable ratatouille with All American Spice Rub and corn on the cob. It was quite a feast - check it out below!

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August 7, 2009

Award Winning Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce Now Available - Buy Yours Today!

We are proud to announce that the Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce - recently voted one of the best BBQ sauces in the nation at the 2009 Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle - is now available for purchase for just $5.49 a bottle at our website PorkBarrelBBQ.com! For pork, beef, poultry and fish, our Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce is the perfect way to give your food a tangy, tasty flavor with a perfect smokin' kick! Hungry yet? Click here to be one of the first to try our award winning Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce.
Pork Barrel BBQ Header
We are also proud to announce the updated packaging of our All American Spice Rub - and our updated price - only $5.99 a jar! It's the same great rub, you just get more of it at a price all Americans can afford! Now is the perfect time to stock up - click here to order.
All American Spice Rub
Really Hungry for Pork Barrel BBQ??

If you want to try both the Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub - click here to get the Pork Barrel BBQ Picnic Pack - a bottle of sauce and jar of rub for ONLY $10!

If you are really hungry - or just want to share Pork Barrel BBQ with your friends - order a case of 12 of the Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce or All American Spice Rub and get 50 cents off per bottle or jar at checkout - that's like getting a free bottle or jar per case!

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August 3, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Passes 15,000 Followers on Twitter

We're proud of many of our accomplishments at Pork Barrel BBQ, but one that sticks out to us is the success we've had on Twitter. In the 5 months we've been on Twitter we've been able to build a loyal following and are proud to announce that we've passed 15,000 followers and are well on our way to 16,000. If you're not following us on Twitter please go to http://twitter.com/porkbarrelbbq and follow us. We post a lot of our breaking news on Twitter first and frequent coupons for discounts on our products.

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August 2, 2009

Heath, how did you get into BBQ?

Since Brett and I started Pork Barrel BBQ I've been asked dozens of times by friends, family and customers how I got into BBQ and why I decided to turn my love for it into a business venture. Although there are a number of reasons that influenced my decision, none was as big of an influence as my dad, Rex Hall.

I've posted before on how important his love of the grill was and how much it has influenced me and helped get me to where I am today. Growing up my dad was like the postal delivery man of the grill - rain, sleet, snow, hail, sun, fog, hot, cold it didn't matter, winter, spring, summer and fall he was outside grilling up chicken, ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, quail, corn, potatoes and just about anything else that can be grilled for our family meal.

So the most complete answer to how I got into BBQ and decided to turn my love for it into a business is because of my dad, a great teacher of many lessons to me. He taught me how to BBQ - from lighting a fire to seasoning meat. He, along with my mom, taught me that no star was out of my reach if I wanted to hold it in my hand - all I had to do was reach for it and work hard. They taught me the importance of doing whatever you are doing to the best of your ability - no one can ask more if you do your best. They also taught me about the importance of integrity, honesty and good communication - all traits we promise to bring to Pork Barrel BBQ on a daily basis.

Dad, thanks for sharing one of your passions with me because without your guidance and lessons there would be no Pork Barrel BBQ today.
The picture above was the first BBQ contest I ever participated in (and I was lucky enough to be working with my dad) - it was held in Jefferson City, Missouri at the Jefferson City Public Library in the mid-1990's. We've come a long way since then and when I say "we've" I mean my dad and I and our quest to always provide the best BBQ to our friends and family that we are capable of providing. Thanks again dad!

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Greatest Compliment Ever - Customer Said Pork Barrel BBQ better than Kansas City BBQ Giants Arthur Bryant's and Gates Bar.B.Q.

I was following Pork Barrel BBQ on Twitter the other night when Pork Barrel BBQ received the greatest Barbecue compliment ever from http://www.twitter.com/claffee in a tweet:

"@claffee Had a bbq rub taste test on the Iberico pork ribs the other night - @porkbarrelbbq beat Arthur Bryant's and Gates in my opinion!"

We've never met @claffee (but he clearly has great wisdom and should be followed on Twitter) - but he clearly has some great taste - because he is 1) using Pork Barrel BBQ's All American Spice Rub, and 2) is eating Iberico pork ribs.

For those of you who don't follow meat - Iberico ribs just recently became available in the Washington D.C. market thanks to the amazing folks at Wagshals and Jose Andres. We did a post on heritage breeds of pigs earlier this year - so if you want to learn more about the topic, read Heath's post here.

We are incredibly humbled that someone would compare our products to Kansas City BBQ greats like Arthur Bryant's and Gates BBQ. We will keep working hard to deliver great BBQ at prices all Americans can afford. As two guys from Kansas City, we hope Pork Barrel BBQ's dry rubs and sauces someday have the reputation of Arthur Bryant's BBQ and Gates BBQ.

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