Countdown to the Kingsford Invitational: Pork N Mindy
November 5, 2013
This weekend, seven of the country’s top teams converge on New York’s famed Intrepid sea, air, and space museum for the second annual winner-takes-all Kingsford Invitational. Today we catch up with one of those teams, Pork N’ Mindy, winners of the 2013 Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle.
Clint: First of all, congratulations on Pork N’ Mindy’s recent win at the Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle. Were you all shocked when they announced the team as Grand Champion or were you feeling pretty good about your turn-ins that day?
We were shocked and thrilled. We knew our turn-ins were good that day, but you never go in expecting to win a contest like Lenexa. It’s quite an honor to be crowned the state champion in the heart of the BBQ world.
Clint: I believe you all have been competing since 2005. How does this win stack up to your previous victories?
Since we have no previous Grand Championships, I’d say this win is certainly our finest. We have plenty of ribbons, but never reached that BBQ pinnacle of Grand Champion.
Clint: I understand that the father of two of your team members actually won the Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle in 1992. Did dad provide any words of advice?
Yes he did, he told us to either concentrate on throwing a great party or turning in great food and that you can’t do both. Fortunately, we ignored his advice and it worked out OK for us.
Clint: How did you all get started in competition barbecue and who makes up team Pork and Mindy?
Our Godfather of BBQ, Curtis Shepard, retired from the circuit a number of years ago. He handed down his prized possession (smoker) to his undeserving sons. They, in turn, looked at BBQ contests as a great way to have fun with friends so they invited numerous people to come out to contests and be on the “team.” As years went by, the number of people on the “team” have dwindled down to the remaining 8, which currently makes up team Pork N Mindy…
Coby “Silver Fox” Hess
Big Brett Mattson
Self-Proclaimed Dr. BBQ – Ryan Rodenburg
PNM’s sous-chef – Steve Laurenzo
Lil’ Shep – Grant Shepard
Whitey Brothers – Jon & Evan Whitefield
Captain Greg Shepard
Clint: Prior to the Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle, what’s been the team’s favorite win?
Honestly, it sounds boring but we can’t really find a win in the past that stands out like Lenexa. We’ve won many ribbons and placed high overall, but Lenexa is in its own category of wins. A win for us is going out and enjoying ourselves for the weekend without upsetting our wives. That, or the time our captain successfully ran the horse track at Woodlands BBQ contest faster than an injured filly.
Clint: With so many team members, how do you decide whose recipe and cooking techniques to use for each category?
A lot of arguing and trial and errors. It took us quite a while to figure out what rubs and techniques work and where to place certain meats on the smoker. These days, we stick to what’s worked in the past and try not to stray from what got us here.
Clint: Is there one category that you all feel most comfortable with?
Pork Butt for sure. You’ll find out why at the Kingsford Invitational.
Clint: I understand you all use your own dry rubs and sauces. Who’s the mastermind behind the recipes?
Actually, that’s one thing we have tweaked. We’ve recently gone away from using our own rubs and sauces. We’ve found that whatever we make has already been made and probably being distributed down the street at your local BBQ store. We’ve found it’s a lot easier to go pay for the product rather than making 5lb’s of it each time. Keeping it simple, Clint.
Clint: Do you all have any tips for an individual who is thinking of doing his or her first contest?
Absolutely. Remember, you’re smoking meat and not performing open heart surgery. Above all, to get a great product, you must know how to use your smoker. We think a lot of teams over think and complicate the process. Dry rub, smoke, a little sauce and you’re done.
Clint: With the Lenexa win, you all received an automatic invite to the winner-take-all 2013 Kingsford Invitational. Do you all have any thoughts on the contest or expectations as you prepare to go up against many of the top teams of the year?
We’re excited to compete and mingle with some of the best BBQ teams in the country. We’ll embrace the “underdog” role as most of the teams we’ll compete against do this for a living or compete in several contests per year. Don’t underestimate us though, we’re there to win. We’ll have a good time doing it as well.
Clint: Any plans to tweak or change any of your recipes for the Kingsford Invitational or are you all sticking with what brung ya?
Clint, you dance with the girl you brought. For us, that girl is Mindy (our smoker) and we’re taking her to the first place podium with us.
Clint: Is there anything I missed that you’d like to share with the Grilling.com community?
Absolutely. For those that are interested, PNM will be holding celebratory party in NYC the Saturday after we win the Kingsford Invitational.* Trust me, you won’t want to miss this!
*Party will be VERY SMALL and not a lot of fun if we don’t win
Thanks and see you in a few days at the Kingsford Invitational!
- Clint Cantwell, Grilling.com Editor