I was going to write up a wonderful bio on this week’s contributor to ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’, but I don’t believe I could sum up Rod Gray and his accomplishments as well as he did himself. So from Rod, “It is only natural that one of the country’s top barbeque teams hails from Kansas City – the city best known for its barbeque. Rod & Sheri Gray, finishing the 2009 season as the best team in barbecue, began competing as Pellet Envy in 2001.
In addition to being the pit masters of a national championship barbeque team, Rod & Sheri cater, teach, and promote barbeque as America’s cuisine. Their passion for barbeque and outdoor cooking is obvious, they have competed in over 250 events all across the country in the last nine years. In that time, Pellet Envy has won over 60 championships and has ended each season as a top nationally ranked team eight straight years. Additionally, Rod and Sheri Gray have been invited to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship five times in the team’s short career.”
I’m extremely honored to share with you Rod Gray’s Favorite BBQ Joints:
“As a full time barbecue pitmaster, I travel the country cooking, competing and teaching barbecue. Just last year, Pellet Envy traveled over 55,000 miles, all by truck. That’s a lot of pavement, but it gives me the chance to stop at some of the best barbecue joints in the country. Here are a few of my favorites:
Oklahoma Joe’s – Kansas City, KS – As Slaughterhouse Five, Jeff and Joy Stehney were part of one of the most successful competition barbecue teams in the country. How does that translate to their now fifteen year old restaurants? Quite well. I’ve never had a bad meal in Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue. Jeff delivers near competition quality barbecue to his customers day in and day out at two locations in the KC metro area. When I’m in town and craving barbecue, the Z-man sandwich and an order of fries are my standard order. Oh, and if you’re wondering, Oklahoma Joe’s had the best french fries I’ve eaten ANYWHERE. And did I mention that Anthony Bourdain named this place one of the thirteen places to eat before you die? That’s sayin’ something right there.
Photo of Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – Olathe, KS via Lesley Zellers
When you live in Kansas City, you can’t have only one favorite barbecue joint. That’s why I also recommend Danny Edward’s Boulevard BBQ and Wyandotte BBQ. Danny Edwards has perfected brisket and Wyandotte BBQ serves the best chopped beef sandwiches in all of Kansas City, and that’s sayin’ something.
Danny Edwards photo courtesy of KC Lunch Spots
Out on the road, many of my trips take me east on I-70. When I can, I stop at Pappy’s Smokehouse. A relative newcomer to the barbecue restaurant scene in St. Louis, these guys are long on barbecue know-how. With many awards from the Memphis In May circuit, they know their pork and the quality and consistency of the food shows. Be sure to order the fried corn on the cob with your ribs.
Photo of Pappy’s Smokehouse courtesy of Marc Cendella
Heading south out of Kansas City, one of my favorite stops in at Donny Teel’s place in Sperry, Oklahoma, called Buffalo’s BBQ. Donny can hold his own with the big boys on the bbq circuit. A Jack Daniel’s World Champion and always a contender when he competes, Donny has translated his hobby into a full time mobile barbecue restaurant. When you stop in to see Donny, be sure to tell him I sent you and order the Sink the Ship, a colossal sandwich with everything from brisket and pork to smoked bologna and a hot link, all on one sandwich. Be careful about going on a Friday though, because you never know when Donny is going to close up shop and head out on the barbecue circuit.
Photo of Buffalo BBQ’s prime rib courtesy of Joe Price
A little further south, but just shy of the Texas barbecue holy land, one of my favorite stops is in Ft. Worth Texas at Railhead Smokehouse BBQ. As you wait in line to place your order you can watch the meats being removed from the pit and sliced to order. Brisket is my favorite at Railhead and be sure to get a side of pinto beans and fried okra.
Photo of Railhead Smokehouse courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ
Saving some of the best for last, my favorite stop when I’m out east is at Q Barbeque in Richmond and Hampton, Virginia. My good friend George “Tuffy” Stone is the owner of Q, but that’s not reason enough for me to count this as one of my all time favorite barbecue restaurants. No sir. Q Barbecue is a casual, cool place that serves up fabulous que from a guy that has accomplished more on the competition barbecue circuit in a short amount of time. My favorite to order are the ribs, which are just about as perfect as you’ll find and worthy of turning in at any contest, and the side dishes. Tuffy has painstakingly perfected such things as his greens, hush puppies, corn pudding and his grandmother’s special pineapple hot dish. Go hungry because I guarantee you’re going to leave full and HAPPY!
I’ve probably literally eaten a ton of barbecue while traveling the country. These places are some of the best in the country. Enjoy and we’ll see you somewhere on the barbecue trail.”
That’s an incredible (and diverse list). What do you think? Have you been to any of those BBQ joints? I know how important sponsors are for the BBQ competition circuit so I asked Rod about his two sponsors and why he chose to partner up with them.
“We partnered with Greased Lightning in 2008 because their all purpose cleaner is a product that we had used for years and believed it was the best on the market, which obviously we still believe. There is nothing easier to promote than a product that you use and love. A little known tip about Greased Lightning; it’s the best laundry pretreater we’ve ever used. It takes stains out of our clothing like nothing else will, yet it’s color safe. Don’t believe me? Try it!
EZ Grill approached us after our 2009 season where we were crowned national barbecue champions by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. The first time I laid eyes on the EZ Grill, I thought “Why didn’t I think of that?” The disposal grills are a fabulous product and definitely fill a void in the grilling market where portability, convenience and environmentally friendly are the need. There’s no easier way to grill on the go without the mess and hassle than to pop open an EZ Grill and be cooking in about fifteen minutes.”
I have to thank Rod Gray for doing such an amazing job. Here’s some more information about Pellet Envy: