Ah, Little Miss BBQ. This whole thing began when Scott was a team leader for Habitat for Humanity and one day my future wife Bekke showed up. One thing led to another and 6 months later we were flying to Texas for a wedding in Fredericksburg, TX. We flew into Austin and Bekke’s parents were there with a cooler of beer for a trip to The Salt Lick. This guy from Tempe had zero clue what he was in for that day.
The Salt Lick is outside of Austin and it’s really an amazing place. Check it out if you get a chance - the people that have been there know it’s a great experience. Being from Arizona, I had no clue barbecue could be like that. When we got back from Texas, we bought a Big Green Egg and were off to the races. First up, pork butt, then ribs, chicken, etc. We had some great days, having family and friends over to share what we had cooked.
One day we had a bunch of people over and a friend invited some of their friends over. Come to find out one of them, Justin, was participating in his first Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) competition. I helped Justin at that first competition and realized it was something I would love to do, so I went home, talked with Bekke and from there the obsession went next level.
Little Miss BBQ got our name one day when Bekke and Scott were watching football one Sunday afternoon and their dog, Yager, came over. Bekke called out “Come here, Little Miss!” which was Yager’s nickname and Bekke threw out the idea of naming out competition team “Little Miss BBQ”.
Our first contest in Williams, AZ was a disaster and amazing at the same time. Bekke had serious issues with the high altitude, we brought 5,000 things we didn't need, my pork butts fell in the coals after the grate of our ugly drum smoker fell off the bolts, and I think I slept for an hour due to the neighbors watching a stupid movie all night right next to me. In the end, we placed in the middle of the pack and we were exhausted but hooked. We met tons of great people and the barbecue culture was entrenched.
We decided to do the next one which was in Queen Creek. Bekke wasn't able to be there so my friend Alain helped out which was greatly appreciated. It was a complete disaster with a massive dust storm wreaking havoc on the event. Nothing really went right but I thought my food was incredible. The judges disagreed. Ah well, Bekke looked at the scores and decided she should get involved with the food.
Our next contest was in Tucson, AZ and it was a serious party event on Halloween weekend. We drank too much, stayed up too late, had a great time, and then we took our first walk for pork (9th place). We were on cloud 9 since our practice was reaping rewards. Quite possibly one of the greatest moments for either one of us was when Little Miss BBQ was called for 1st place brisket! Bam! We ended up with 9th place pork, 1st place brisket, 4th overall and about $1,300! I don't think we slept all night and from that moment we decided that we were going to win Grand Champion someday no matter how much practice it took. Bekke kissed her old gymnastic participation trophies goodbye that day and has never looked back. That girl loves trophies.
Bekke's parents live in Austin, TX and I'm always excited to go back. The barbecue is divine and it's places like Franklin BBQ, John Mueller Meat Co, la Barbecue, Smitty's and the Salt Lick that we have drawn inspiration from the past few years. The barbecue and experience are ridiculous, and it's captured our imagination and focus for the past few years. Much like competition barbecue we became obsessed trying this, that, and everything in between to perfect our recipes.
Our Camelback smokers are made here in Phoenix with custom-made new 1000 gallon propane tanks that we cut doors in, install grates and an exhaust, and match that up to an insulated firebox has about 3.5" of ceramic and mineral wool insulation around the sides and top. Our constant cooking on the smokers has allowed us to create features that we believe are critical to even cooking, easy cleaning, and an unbelievably great looking smoker. Scott started the company, Camelback Smokers, with his friend John Rippel who was working across the street from Little Miss BBQ’s first location. Today we make 1-2 of them a month and ship them all over the world.
Although we are happy with where our barbecue is currently, our quest is continuing to put out a better product whether it's using beef from a single rancher, a new addition or deletion to the rubs and sauce, or a new technique on the smoker. Barbecue is simple but there sure are a lot of things to consider that need to be done to make it great day after day. Thanks for being with us on the journey!