I was pleasantly surprised on March 15, 2018, to win seven National BBQ and Grilling Association (NBBQA) Awards of Excellence (AOE) in multiple categories of blog, webpage, photos, BBQ article, and beef rub. These AOEs are presented to the top three winners within each category of: Rubs & Sauce, BBQ Products, BBQ Publications, BBQ Digital Media, and BBQ Photography. A huge thanks to the panel of judges from around America for these honors which I received while attending the NBBQA IamBBQ2018.com annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas.
This was an especially sweet moment as 2018 marked my 10-year anniversary as a professional BBQ competitor, barbecue instructor, blogger, video blogger, and retailer of sauces and rubs. It’s also bitter-sweet because of the story of Teri Bishop which I’m going to tell you.
I could never have imagined where my BBQ journey would take me ten years from a fateful day in 2008. My coworker Teri told us about a great movie she watched over the weekend starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called The Bucket List. She told our group of IT nerd project managers that we needed to write down a list of things to do before we kicked the bucket. To make it more challenging, we wrote two stretch goals for each other.
For me, the first stretch goal was to take a standup comedy class and do standup comedy since I was an IT geek. I am far more comfortable behind a computer screen than in front of people. They allowed me to substitute the comedy class with my participation in our company’s talent contest. My fellow bucket list co-worker, Janice, would do a karaoke rendition of Gladys Knight’s Midnight Train to Georgia. Teri, Brian (another coworker), and myself would be the Gladys’ The Pips backup dancers and comedy routine. Since we were performing in disguise with Afro wigs and sunglasses, we were safe from being recognized by the 1,000 employees in our downtown Los Angeles building. Amazingly we won the talent show and someone surreptitiously recorded our performance on a cell phone and put on YouTube. Hopefully you won’t recognize which one is me. Yes, I know, we have no talent as dancers and shouldn’t quit our day jobs. Janice’s live singing was excellent.
I decided to enter a BBQ contest to complete my second stretch goal. The entry form for a contest in Palm Desert, California would prove my participation. I picked the team name “The Bucket List” which made sense since I would only compete once and never do again. My co-workers said the name was boring and wanted to come up with a better name. I was told when you’re in the South and you eat something you really like, it’s so good you want to slap somebody. Since I’m a Daddy, they said to call my team Slap Yo Daddy BBQ. I thought that was a stupid name but said yes as I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to use the name again. So, I went to my very first contest in Palm Desert, California, and the rest, as they say, is history. Mark, my teammate and childhood buddy and I had 4 walks including first place chicken and won Reserve Grand Champion.
As I received these AOE awards tonight, I owe a depth of gratitude to Teri Bishop who started me on my accidental pitmaster journey ten years ago. Her optimism, energy, and love for life, people, and adventure set us free from our could-haves, should-haves, and would-haves in 2008. We all completed our stretch goals that year, emerged like butterflies out of our cocoons, and gained confidence to complete many more stretch goals.
A few years later, we were devastated to lose Teri to kidney cancer. We all had the wind knocked out of our sails. Her passing was a huge awakening that life is short and temporary. We must pursue what we are passionate about and never look back. I chose a path to spread love via barbecue so thank you Teri Bishop, my good friend, for being the inspiration for us to follow your path of grace, love, and kindness to others.
We love and miss you dearly Teri.
Harry and your fellow Pips.