Published: January 30, 2012
It is time to talk about the first ever BBQ Person of the Year for 2011 from Grilling with Rich: Brad Orrison. We had over three thousand votes casted for BBQ Person of the Year and the winner is truly an up and coming star in the Barbecue World. Brad appeared in Food Network’s Best in Smoke Reality TV Barbecue Competition last spring and is also the “Head Shedhead” of The Shed Barbecue and Blues Joint.
Before we get started with the profile of the winner, there has been talk on the internet about what makes a Barbecue Person of Year, and I wanted to drop my two cents into the subject, and also what to me makes a Barbecue person of the year. Some of the questions that came right into my mind when I started this contest is the barbecue person of the year even a person that you can define? Does this person have ONE quality that makes them BBQ person of the year? Is it someone who helps re-define the barbecue world during the past year? Is it the person who gains the most votes in an online contest? Is it a person who has the respect of other pitmasters, barbecue restaurant owners, sauce makers? Or is it a person who has all of these qualities wrapped into one? I really think that it is the latter, because they aren’t mutually exclusive. If you have the respect of others through all your had work to re-define the barbecue world during the past year, you are surely going to be the most popular and I personally think that there couldn’t be a better choice in our first ever Barbecue Person of the Year and Brad Orrison.
While I agree with Diva Q’s thoughts on that this year’s Barbecue Person of the Year “should be the unknown pitmaster,” I mean come on, how could I not agree with that, I myself am an unknown pitmaster myself just learning and reading every day great barbecue and grilling articles and improving my skills, BUT I think that having people and pitmasters to both look up to and also to learn from, and help teach the craft makes someone special and that is why I even further agree with the public’s choice this year. All the people who were included in the poll this year from Chris Lilly, Heath Hall, Diva Q, Johnny Trigg just to name a few are great pitmasters in their own rights, do their best weekend after weekend to help, teach and spread the great word of Barbecue they are all truly great ambassadors for the sport of Barbecue and I would have been equally excited if they won also.
Okay, before we get started with my profile of Brad, I thought that I tell a little of Brad’s story and how he started in the world of BBQ.
Brad(24) returned the coast after graduating from Ole Miss and decided to take his passion for barbecue, family, a wholesome family atmosphere and most importantly having a good old time to a whole new level and decided to open the first “The Shed” in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Trying to break even with only 300 square feet to work with the Shed’s motto was to “strive to respect people,” and also to “become a true barbecue and blues joint” in the south. Teaming up with his sister Brooke and his brother Brett the three of them set out to build the Shed out of scrap metal while dumpster diving on the Coast. During that time Brad decided to use hardwood flooring that they found while dumpster diving and thought: “I’m gonna’ build myself a take out barbeque joint with all this junk!” Brad and his sister practiced cooking, smoking, and timing meat to perfection. A few weeks after opening, brother Brett (22) just graduated from Full Sail University in Recording Arts and being the sound engineer for the House of Blues in New Orleans, breezed in with all his knowledge and contacts to set up one of the finest Blues venues in the South.
Being able to witness first hand Brad talk about his craft during Memphis in May about the “art” of making some great barbecue was truly something that I will never forget and most importantly being able to talk one on one with him with the same passion was truly enjoyable. Not only could you see Brad’s passion when he talked about barbecue, there was a certain glow that accompanied that passion, and also his passion about his family also makes it a bit more special. One of the re-occuring themes that always seem to come out when doing interviews with Barbecue pitmasters from around the country, is that they always mention to me how they got started in the barbecue world and they always talk about their family having such a big impact in the story. When I first met Brad at Memphis in May, I was taken a back to see that his first customer ever to his barbecue and blues joint, traveled with everyone to the contest and you could see how much they treated him not as an outsider or even customer, but as part of the family. I have many great experiences of being welcomed into various people’s families during the past year, and this was the same with Brad. When I first tweeted with him, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous, hey I was talking to someone who not only on T.V. but someone who had a camera crew hanging out with him at the contest, but when I got a chance meet with him and also spend some time talking to Brad his great down to earth personality really shined through and specifically when we got talking about his experience on Food Network’s Best in Smoke series and getting to both travel to New York City and also compete against the likes of Chris Lilly, Famous Daves, Matt Land and other barbecue greats, Brad said that the experience was “way cool” and it was “cool to have the skyline of New York City in the background while we were competing, [so] what could be so bad?,”
I am looking forward to following Brad and all his successes in the coming years and I believe that the is going to be an up and coming force in the barbecue world in the coming years! Hopefully we at Grilling with Rich will get another chance to meet up with Brad and talk about Barbecue and hopefully visit “The Shed” in Ocean Springs so that I can “Get fed at the Shed!”
Congratulations Brad for being the 2011 BBQ Person of the Year!