0 Grand Champions Interviews

CassOryl to Latest News  


At BBQ Guru, we like to acknowledge success on the competition BBQ circuits. As seasoned veterans of competitive BBQing, we understand the challenges of the season. Winning major competitions is a credit to practice and consistency. It also doesn’t hurt when to use high quality products.

The 2011 Grand Champion of The Sam’s Club BBQ Series and The American Royal Invitational, Tippy Canoe BBQ Crew as well as the 2011 Grand Champion The Jack Daniel’s 23rd World Championship Invitational, Smokin’ Hoggz BBQ both used BBQ Guru temperature control systems in their victories. We caught up with team members Joe Beland and Bill Gillespie and asked them their journey, their success and how The BBQ Guru helped them on the way.

Bill Gillespie, Chief Cook Smokin’ Hoggz BBQ

2011 Jack Daniel’s Invitational Grand Champion


How did you get in to competitive BBQing?

I have been grilling/BBQing since I was a young kid helping/watching my dad. I got my first smoker about 15 years ago; it was a Brinkmann Gourmet Charcoal smoker. I got into competitive BBQ from a few guys I used to work with about 6 yrs ago. First contest I went to I walk away with a 4th place call in the cooks choice category, I was hooked instantly.

What kind of cooker(s) do you use?

We currently cook on a Backwoods Fatboy and an 18″ WSM. Before this season we were cooking on 3 WSM’s and Weber 22″ kettle.

How long has your team been competing?

We have been competing since the fall of 2008

Bill Gillespie – Chief cook

Shaune Connolly

Alan Burke

What is your favorite category to cook at competitions and why?

I love cooking ribs, even though they have been our worst of the four categories. I think because ribs are our worst category is why I love cooking them

What is your favorite aspect of the competitive BBQ circuit?

The new friendships that are made at every contest and hanging out with old friends having good times

Tell us the story behind your victory.

Long story short we qualified for “The Jack” by winning Three GC’s, but the one that got us there was the Rock ‘n’ Ribfest in Merrimack NH, it was an automatic qualifier. Fast forward to “The Jack”. Fri morning we arrived in the Hollow about 8:30 AM, we needed to be there early enough to check in by 9 and to have our meat inspected. By 10:30 AM we were ready to start prepping the meat and we were done by 3PM. We finished in plenty of time to say hello to some friends and get ready to line up and march through the center of town for the parade of teams. After the parade we were treated to a team dinner on the top of the hill. We got back to the site around 8:30PM started the smoker and had the big meats on by midnight. Everything going as planned, with one little hiccup during the night, we lost power only for about 15 min. Got up the next morning, and things are looking good. First turn in is sauce at 11:30AM, followed by Cook’s choice 12. Chix is next at 12:30, we were a little behind at this point because the cook’s choice took a little longer to plate, plus we had to use white and dark meat also there had to be seven pieces instead of the usual six. We just felt a little rushed in every category, everything was turned in time and we were happy with food we presented we thought it was what we have been doing the whole year. Awards time, no calls in chicken or ribs, we get a call in pork (9th place) at this point I am extremely psyched; we got a call at “The Jack”. I can go home a happy person. Next was brisket. Again no call, at this point I am just hoping to finish in the top half. They start to announce from 10th on down, they get to RGC and it’s Big Bob Gibsons, I thought cool because they were the winners of the Kingsford points chase which was announced earlier, so at this point I have no idea who it could be. And then the MC says The 2011 Jack Daniels World BBQ GC is from Abington Ma, Smokin Hoggz BBQ. I couldn’t believe it, this is what every competitive BBQ team dreams of and it just happened to us.

What do you credit this seasons’ success to?

To start, this season was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. We took the Ique cooking class last October and were able to take a lot of the techniques learned there and adapt them to our style of cooking. We also bought a new (used) Backwoods Fatboy and spent all offseason learning to cook on it. We just did a ton of practice to get the food consistent to our liking. Looks like it worked

How did you learn about The BBQ Guru?

From being on the BBQ circuit.

What BBQ Guru products do you use and which ones do you like the best?

We started out using a Pitminder but wanted to be able to control two pits so we upgraded to a Cyber Q II. I love it!!!!!

What was life like before having a BBQ Guru control for your cooker?

Before we started using a BBQ Guru Control, we used to get a lot of temp spikes, we were constantly monitoring the temps. Now I sometimes forget to check the temps because the Guru is so good!!

What advice would you give to novice BBQers?

Practice, Practice, Practice and don’t be afraid to ask questions

Joe Beland, TippyCanoe BBQ Crew

2011 Sam’s Club Invitational BBQ Bash Grand Champion

2011 American Royal BBQ Invitational Grand Champion


How did you get in to competitive BBQing?

Like most people I started cooking for friends and family.  They encouraged me to enter a local non-sanctioned competition.  In the fall of 2008 we entered that local contest and won the Grand Championship.  A few weeks later we coked our first KCBS event in Sparta Wisconsin.  We finished as the reserve grand champion and the addiction set in.

What kind of cooker do you use?

Right now we are cooking on a Backwoods Fatboy and a Memphis Wood Fire Grill

How long has the Tippy Canoe cooking team been competing?

Just over three years.  (TippyCanoe BBQ Crew – Joe and Kim Beland, Matt and Jacki Hanna, Brian and Tara Bork, Jeff and Steph Beland)

What is your favorite meat to cook at competitions and why? Pork…it has been our strongest category this year and its really the only category I enjoy eating during the BBQ season.

What is your favorite aspect of the competitive BBQ circuit?

The people and the competition.  We have met some of the best people on the planet during this BBQ adventure. About the only thing I enjoy more than cooking BBQ is talking about BBQ and I’ve spent many hours telling tales and hearing stories with people from all over the country at BBQ events.  I’m a competition junky :)   I love the thrill of winning these events knowing you’ve beaten some of the best of the best in the business.

You’ve won two big events this year, The Sam’s Club and American Royal Invitational. Tell us the story behind your victories.

At both events we had nearly flawless cooks.  We hit our marks and our timing was spot on.  In both cases we made very few adjustments and it all came together at the right time.  Our BBQ GURU DigiQ II played a big role in that consistency.  Temperature control is one thing we don’t have to even think about.  We set the Guru and it does its thing!

What do you credit this seasons’ success to?

I’ve had so much help from friends, family, and fellow competitors.  They are the reason we’ve had this success.  I always try to pick up new techniques and methods and make small adjustments to improve our product.  Having the support of my teammates and friends allows me to focus on having the best cook possible.

How did you learn about The BBQ Guru?

I started using a GURU almost immediately after getting serious about BBQ.  I found them online and have used their product for over three years.

What BBQ Guru products do you use and which ones do you like the best?

I use the BBQ GURU DigiQ II

What was life like before having a temperature control system for your cooker?

I like the confidence the GURU gives me.  Prior to cooking with a GURU I was often up in the night to check on the smoker.  Today, I have the confidence to sleep through the night knowing that the GURU will take care of it!

What advice would you give to novice BBQers?

Practice, practice, practice… many flavors and flavor profiles will work in competition BBQ, however, if you don’t cook the meat perfectly every time you won’t score consistently in competitions.  The only way I know to get it right every time is to practice…know what perfect looks like, feels like, and tastes like.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.