Grand Champion People’s Choice – 2nd Annual Scheels BBQ University, July 19

It’s an immense honor and privilege to be invited to be among the top 21 pitmasters in America to serve as a team captain for the 2022 Annual Scheels BBQ Championship Teams University.  Scheels is an American privately held, employee-owned and operated sporting goods and entertainment chain store headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota.  They operate thirty-one store locations in fourteen U.S. states.  74 lucky employees were handpicked for training to lead the BBQ sales of their stores.

Scheels employees Austin Chapman, Dillon Henniger, Abe Nisley, and Craig Michelson

My Team #4 included Scheels employees Austin Chapman, Dillon Henniger, Abe Nisley, and Craig Michelson.  The objective was for the team captain to teach them how to prep and cook a competition brisket starting at 6 am and submitting for judging by 8 pm the same day.  The caveat is that the team captain cannot touch the meat during the entire session.  We had two entries to prepare, a 9 X 9 inch Styrofoam box of 12 slices of brisket and People’s Choice to be judged by the attendees.

We were provided with two briskets, a regular Choice one from Sysco food service and a high-end Choice from Nebraska Beef.  I taught my students how to select, trim, inject, rub, and place the brisket in the pit.  We used my Slap Yo Daddy Moola Beef Championship rub.  We got the Nebraska brisket in the Cookshack PG1000 smoker around 8 am and the Sysco brisket in the Napoleon Grill.  My team returned to their university curriculum to attend other courses such as cast-iron pan cooking and sausage making.  They returned at periodic intervals during the day to check on the meat, listen to my instructions, and to spray.  When the meat was crusted, it was wrapped in foil with some beef broth.

We left the brisket to cook unattended as I was busy doing my Speed Demos from 2 pm to 5 pm where eleven small groups of Scheels teams take rotation turns visiting demo booths.  I did repeating 15-minute presentations of my sauces and rubs.  I demoed my rubs with some NY steak samples and my sauces with mini meatballs.  The weather turned windy and stormy, so it was a struggle to keep it together but with the help of Jon Faulkenberry and Gene Westerbuhr from Crawford Outdoor, my distributors, we managed to complete our Speed Demos.

We won the People’s Choice Grand Championship that evening with our brisket as judged by the attendees.  This was quite an accomplishment amid some stiff competition from the likes of DivaQ, Heath Riles (recent winner of Memphis in May), Dave Bouska of Butchers BBQ, CJ of Mama and Papa Joe’s BBQ, Sterling Smith of Loot n Booty, Lee Ann Whippen (my Pitmasters Season One competitor), Erica Blair (my student and Food Network star), and many top national pitmasters.

LeeAnn Whippen and Erica Blair

Huge thanks to Jon Faulkenberry from Crawford Outdoors for hosting me with pits from Cookshack Inc., PK Grills, and Napoleon Grills.