Published: March 10, 2014
Follow Grilling With Rich:
For Immediate Release
As prepared for the National BBQ Association Annual Conference
March 8, 2014
Embassy Suites San Marcos Hotel, Spa and Conference Center
San Marcos, TX
7:19 P.M. CST
Thank you very much. For those who don’t know me my name is Richard Wachtel and I am the author of the very popular barbecue and grilling website Grilling with Rich.
I am here tonight to award the 2013 BBQ Person of the Year but before I announce the winner of this year’s contest, I would like to thank the National BBQ Association, Kingsford Charcoal, Weber Grills and Pirate 50 Custom Artwork and Trophies for co-sponsoring this year’s BBQ Person of the Year. BBQ Person of the Year started back in 2011 when I was sitting in my office and was reading an article about Time’s Person of the Year and I wondered to myself why doesn’t the barbecue community have an award that also highlights the best of best that the barbecue world has to offer and the idea of BBQ person of the year was born. In 2011, we had over 3k people vote for the very first BBQ person of the year the Shed’s Brad Orrison.
Last year, BBQ Person of the year was awarded to a great barbecue community service organization: Operation BBQ Relief.
This year’s contest BBQ Person of the Year had another record-breaking amount votes cast. This year’s BBQ person of the Year is Steve Coddington of Lockhart’s BBQ in Royal Oak, MI.
The road to Pitmaster at Lockhart’s BBQ in Royal Oak, Michigan is probably not the road Steve want to start down, but the prize at the end of that road probably makes the journey a little better. It was a road that started, like all to many people, with losing a job due to the economic downturn.
Steve’s wife told me recently about a hunting trip that Steve took down to Texas, where he came back with a bear and a new obsession – BBQ. After that, his wife not only had a bear added to my home decor, they had every kind of rub and combination of spices to make rubs, taking over my kitchen and pantry. Not to mention all the drums! Steve started making drum smokers like a madman! On any given day there was a new one in the driveway, in the garage, on the porch, they were all over the place. In fact, we had so many of them that we started jokingly humming the Sanford and Son theme song whenever another one appeared! Funny thing was, he had a plan for all of them! I think his favorite part of making the drum was seasoning and that first cook.
“In 2007 Michigan’s economy took a hard nose dive and I was laid off of my building superintendent job of 7 years. With the construction field coming to a standstill I was out of work for almost 2 years,” Steve explained when asked why he started down this road.
The road to Lockhart’s BBQ had a couple of learning curves for Steve. “When I opened that BBQ stand I had no idea what I was doing. My only earlier kitchen experience was as a dishwasher when I was 15 years old. All I knew was how to make great BBQ and figured I would learn as I went,” he explained. ”I worked that roadside spot and farmers markets every weekend for 4 months until I had to close due to winter. I had paid off all my equipment and my bills, met a ton of great people and had built my brand”
Even though Steve’s BBQ story is very different from the normal story of barbecue tradition passed through generations and generations, Steve has truly embraced is inner barbecue pitmaster. Everyone’s barbecue story might be different but to me there is one common thread that runs through all of our stories and that no matter where we start we all end up loving this amazing thing called barbecue and then we devote our whole entire lives to better promote our individual idea of what barbecue means to us.
Steve in my mind truly represents passion, determination to better his barbecue craft that is why I am so excited to present the 2013 BBQ Person of the Year to Steve Coddington of Lockhart’s BBQ in Royal Oak, MI.
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