CAPTION: Mike and Theresa Lake circ 1970 in Columbus, Ohio
By Kevin Williams
Mike and Theresa Lake of Ocala, Florida are my godparents. Godparent is an interesting title and I feel lucky to have someone in my life with that distinction. That's a title I feel like you don't hear as often today as you did when I was a kid, but maybe I am wrong. My parents were friends with Mike and Theresa when they lived off campus at OSU during the waning radical days of the late 60s and early 70s and they've stayed in touch ever since. And the Lakes never forgot me. Growing up, sure as the sun would rise, on my birthday a card and a check would arrive. It was the highlight of my mail for the summer.
They lived for a long time in Shannon, Illinois which was in the circulation area of the Prairie Advocate, a small weekly newspapers that carried The Amish Cook for years, so that was fun and gave me the occasion to see them from time to time.
I went on to become an "Amish expert", the Lakes went on to become "barbecue experts." So I thought for this post I'd bring the two together. I conducted a quick (I know everyone's busy, so I promise, this is a quick read) Q & A with the Lakes about how to make the perfect barbecue. They would know, they've won awards with their own and are judges in national competitions!
How you get involved in BBQ? We cooked for Mike’s customers when he worked in Livestock Feed Sales. In 1994 we decided to try competition barbeque and joined the Kansas City Barbeque Society. (You can buy the Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook here) We have competed in as many as 15 competitions to now just 2 a year. For 15 years we put together and ran a 60 team barbeque competition in Shannon, IL.
What is your secret for a winning recipe? Start with an excellent meat source, using fresh spices for the rub and put together your favorite rubs and sauces.
How to judge? Competition barbeque is judged for appearance, taste and tenderness in accordance with the rules and regulations set by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.
Are we a BBQ snobs? Definitely!!!
Are there any chain restaurants with decent BBQ? A large chain BBQ restaurant that we love is City BBQ that happens to have started in the Columbus, OH area and are now in several states. Their BBQ is consistent and excellent and sides are fantastic.
What about Mom and Pop joints? We have eaten at many BBQ joints and these are not what you would call typical Mom & Pop but they are excellent,” Iowa Smokey D’s” in Des Moines, IA and “Q 39” in Kansas City, MO. Through the years we have stopped at a BBQ Joint that someone had recommended to us and all were good there are just some that we feel are better than others and more to our liking.
What are some far flung places we have traveled to compete or judge? We have competed in Las Vegas and Florida and all over the Mid-West but one of our favorites is in Hammond, LA. We have traveled in over 35 states running BBQ events for Sam’s Club. And we continue to hold Certified Barbeque Classes for the Kansas City Barbeque Society and run competition events including the American Royal in Kansas City and the Jack Daniels in Lynchburg, TN. Also the World Food Championships held in Orange Beach, AL.
Advice for the backyard novice
Barbeque can be grilling or smoking depending what the cook wants to do or is trying to achieve. Start with a simple smoker, buy the best meat that you can afford and do not be in a hurry. Use your favorite seasonings and sauce and there are many good ones on the market or find some great ones on the internet.