Parte il Wild Fire On Tour
Thomas and Jenny are two wonderful people, whom we had talked about last summer, on our return from Smoke in the North, a striking competition organized in a golf club near Göteborg, Sweden. Next to those green Thomas and Jenny, involving the whole family, they ran their barbecue restaurant, a simple and cozy place midway between a barbecue shop and a nice bistro, with an outdoor patio with breathtaking views. I have deliberately used the past tense because during the fall of last year, they decided to go back and try something new again. The Wild Fire on Tour was born, in which Thomas and Jenny on their customized van, go from town to town by organizing itinerant barbecue events and that represents the real news in 2017. We came to mind to ask him to tell us something more than them and Of their new project.
You were among the first in the European Barbecue who jumped in an attempt to make barbecue by profession. How did it start?
It was a slow process back in 1993, i was eating my first real Pulled Pork, Ribs and Brisket at an small Backyard contest in the USA. I actualy was there to check the music scene and worked for servel of Bands as manager or rowdie …but what I tasted there got me on the hook. I love BBQ very much as I love music, than back home I builded a BBQ Smoker with a friend and all began. Btw the first try was not that good and I ordered Pizza for all my friends I had invited 😊 as nothing was eatable lol. But I never forgot the taste and experience I had in the USA and tried it again and again, got better and better. At that time there was no BBQ Web sites so it was learning by burning and I always tried to learn from people that did great BBQ, I checked all BBQ restaurants I had the chance to on my travels through the USA and talked to the Pitmasters and BBQ people I met! Than friends liked it more and more when I was Quing and asked me to BBQ for their Parties and after a while i started it professional in 1997. The interest for competiton BBQ started and I became a Judge in 2002, after some Years the request for my BBQ was so much that I started a new business in Germany with a partner. The first Name was BBQ Brothers, in 2002 what was changed to Flaming Pig BBQ after I decided to do it by my own again and only concerning authentic american BBQ. Through a lot of traveling and partwise living in the USA I learned a lot about grilling and BBQ where ever I had the chance. These years formed me in my cooking / BBQ methods but I still learn every day whenever I see someone cooking or Quing or talking with friends from the BBQ Family with the same passion. When I met Jenny in 2008 we got married very quick 😊 we decided to do BBQ Catering full time and I stopped touring with Bands in 2011 as Jenny stoped working as an debt collector 😊, we started BBQ fulltime, before of that I did it 50/50 of touring and BBQ . After living in Germany one year together we moved to Sweden in early 2010, Jennys Homeland ,so it all began. We started a new company there, Flaming Pig BBQ Sweden was formed as a pure Catering company. I did on side some touring as we had to build up a name in Sweden first: almost no one in Sweden was knowing what real BBQ is ….it was pioneer work back than. Jenny after some time was bitten by the BBQ Buck. Also got interested in competiton BBQ and we started to do more contest every year, KCBS was hitting Europe and we was there from almost the very first time and ever since 😊. We builded up the Flaming Pig BBQ Sweden company and started a Web shop for BBQ products and found a great place where we started the Flaming Pig BBQ Restaurant,we did BBQ seminars, classes and even Swedens first KCBS CBJ class there. Scandinavias first ever KCBS competition Smoke in the North was held there for 3 years with great success.
The life of your entire family has grown up next to a smoker. How much is barbecue part of your family as well as being part of you?
Hahaha yes well …. If we say Pulled Pork to the kids they start running lol. We maybe served it to much to them 😊, but no of cause for us BBQ is a life style, the Kids love it too, Nina 18 and Liza 7 years old, know how to build a fire in a Smoker, they have their own grills and Smoker. Liza grills for her friends Burgers on her Big Green Egg Mini, if she see people doing a set up wrong with their grill or smoker she goes there and correct it. Nina impressed her classmates with grilled Ice Cream when she was 12 years old and became the youngest female KCBS certified judge in 2015 ,when 16 years old. BBQ runs in our veins. Jenny will never complain about too less vegetables but about to less Meat … what never happens.She became an absolute pro on Smoker and Grill we are. As soon as we have a fire started, prep some meat and see glowing ambers, smell the smoke of Oak or hickory ,we feel relaxed …. we cant help it WE LOVE BBQ !
WE live and breath Barbeque. For us a Barbeque is not a grill, a word or a trend. For us Barbeque is Meat prepared in a very special way, a part of the american culture, what we love to live and share, coming together with friends and family that’s what we love. We can not think about a live without BBQ. People call us crazy …. And yes they are right we are, in a very positive way …we are Barbequeaholics ! 😊
The vision we have from southern Europe is the market barbecue branch in Sweden and Northern Europe in general, to be certainly more evolved than ours and that to some extent is more receptive to something new. With great difficulty the first Barbecue Restaurants are starting their activities also in Italy. How hard it was to launch the project of your restaurant?
Swedish People love American Life style, that was a plus but they are traditional as well. We started with caterings and over the years the request got higher and higher but the beginning was hard, no one realy knew what Brisket, Pulled Pork or real American BBQ was. There was Spare ribs and chicken American style but nothing realy smoked, people here still have to find out for what the lid on a grill is. When we started the restaurant we had a hard time to get through all the laws you need to follow as a restaurant. The department did not had a clue how to handle us, we worked out a paper with them together. What is used now for Restaurants of this type and make it easy to register a BBQ Restaurant it took some time but by showing them step by step how we worked they accepted it ….as they loved the food lol, than we started and it began to roll , we had guest from all over the city and on weekends vistors from all over the country and even Europe, we cooked whole hog in the traditional way and always had special BBQ events , we was the first Restaurant in Sweden cooking 100 % of the meats in Brick pits or smoker . We made it work by having traditional Swedish food with a BBQ twist and offert also authentic BBQ and people got curious. By now it is a big trend, BBQ Restaurants popping up a lot and we helped made it easy for them as we had the chance to change / work out new laws with the department together already in 2010 when we started the catering and adjusted it when we opened the restaurant , some of them are very good and authentic like Holy Smoke with great food and perfect atmosphere. People today love it , Swedish people adapt very quick , you see it when we look back in 2010 almost no one knew Pulled Pork 2 years ago it was the second most googled word in Sweden and Brisket is a trent .
The impression I have, looking from the outside is that Jenny is the creative part while Thomas is the regularity and the method. Is that so?
Jenny : No it is the opposite 😊 Thomas is the more creative part he writes 80% of the recipes and is working non stop on new things, he create Rubs, Sauces, Recipe creations but together we make the final product and often I give it the final touch . He works out BBQ workshops , events articles up to grill and cooking techniques. He is active in the BBQ scene all over Europe and the USA, but we reflect everything together and I am very critical, I don’t let him through with everything lol from time to time I have to stop him .
Thomas : Yes she adjust me when needed and she is the perfect balance to me like ying and yang, we just work as a team even if a recipe is coming from me, she often have the idea for the right change or twist and when she do recipes she nails them 100% some of our best winning recipes are from Jenny !!! She is a top Pitmaster and easy was running the restaurant full with 200 people on the Saturday BBQ Buffet with one waitress …. She is unstoppable if she have a target and pulls me with her when I would already give up lol 😊 .She is the Queen of flavours and know well to match them. Jenny is controlling, everything have to come together while I try to go break out and try to leave the straight lines, I think that gives us the right balance and made us to what we are together …a creative well balanced couple with good ideas and visions .
To Jenny: in a world still heavily male, you are one of the few female characters who, even through collaborations with magazines (Fire&Food, ndr) propose yourself with a your own identity. Do you feel in this sense as a spokesperson?
Oh my 😊 I try to bring more Girls to grill and BBQ and to not step back behind their Man. Some years ago we created a pure female BBQ class for that reason, I cooked with the Girls and Lady´s and in the evening there husbands and boyfriends was invited. They was positive shocked and blown away what a girl can do on the Grill or Smoker if you let them. Some of the girls took over the grill at home. I inspire and try to push the Girls to be creative and grill by them self, I started my own blog on face Book, Jennys Barbeque and contribute in Magazines all over Europe and the USA. I feel very comftable in my position as a Pitmaster ,in our competition team and on the Wildfire Truck, i get all respect in this scene, as inspirator and pitmaster i like to spread the word for female Pitmasters. There is already a lot of them in the competition BBQ circus like Lyndz Lane, Emma Millest, Marjan Visser, Dorine van Greffen-Raes, Stefanie Wördehoff and may more….. We all together do a lot for female BBQ in general. I feel personaly that it’s great to be in this BBQ community, it feels more than a family it’s come together not an against each other. I like to share my experience and live the dream of BBQ !!!
If you had the opportunity, what mistake you wouldn’t do again and what choice instead would have done earlier?
Jenny: in would had started erlyer to BBQ if I had knowen how much fun it is , I just say belive in your self and start Quing !!!
I would never buy a to small house again ….. I need room for my Grills and Smoker LOL
Thomas : I would never use lighter fluid again …..lol back in the days 😊!
If I had the chance to start all over again the only change I would do is to start earlier …life is to short for bad BBQ 😊
In 2016 you had your restaurant on the way and a stable situation. What took you to change?
We see Barbeque as a passion We could not build up a team of pitmasters that wanted the work with the same love than us, we had a good service team but all cooking 24/7 was by Jenny and Me , its easy to find a chef but not easy to find some one that understand our way of cooking and living, Chef´s are made Barbequers become born . One and a half year ago we made the disission , if we can not find some one with passion that want to work full time on a Smoker we will close the restaurant. We needed more time for our kids and our selfs and did not wanted to split for events, contests and so on. With other words the restaurant was running too good and was eating up all private time as well… Family First !!!
In the competitive world the Flaming Pig BBQ Team has gained very good results, in which is definitely worth to be mentioned the prestigious victory at Tony Stone. How much importance had the competitive barbecue in your experience?
We love the contests a lot, mostly to come together with the BBQ Family and Friends, but cause we want to win and we work quite a lot on this all around the year, our Team is Jenny , Slow Joe and Thomas. We are best friends and that’s what makes a good team: the balance of fun and focus at the right moment have to be there. You cannot win when you are in a bad mood, do not take it to serious but not to easy…. We learn from our friends and our selfs . We have a great friend and mentor in Byron Chism. He don’t told us his secrets but showed us to find our way by giving us feed back. The winning of the Tony Stone Low & Slow Competition was a dream come true. It is Jennys and mine Favorite contest. At the Tony Stone we did our first KCBS contest and there Slow Joe joint us the first time some years later. We are very proud that we got the Grand Champion there and if you are successful it wil help your business too if it is BBQ related. 😊 Competetive BBQ is quite a big part for us.
Smoke in the North was one of the most important competitions of the European competitive circuit. Do you think will it ever have a sequel?
We started Smoke in the North for the love of BBQ, to bring people together and have a great time, to bring the sport and community of BBQ up to Scandinavia. We supported teams and judges as good as we could and we never did it for a commercial reason. We will be very busy this year with all new adventures, changes we did with Flaming Pig BBQ. We did not got the ok for the new location we wanted, in time to do Smoke in the North 4 and even confronted with a contest in Sweden one week before ours made us to not arrange Smoke in the North 4 in 2017. But we are in the planning for 2018 and have a lot of Judges and Teams that ask for it, we will be back with Smoke in the North IV in 2018 with some surprises…. Also the Nordic BBQ Alliance will be back with new partner contests in Norway and Denmark. We are already in the planning !!!
We saw the first pictures of Wildfire on Tour, your new adventure. What exactly? How did the idea?
The Idea is a combination of what we planed to do in the future after the restaurant, combined with the idea of Wessel Budding, the owner of Big Green Egg Europe. We have a long time relationship with Wessel and Big Green Egg. We were the Ambassadors for Sweden and Scandinavia and always got brilliant support with all our ideas as Smoke in the North for example. When he heard that we wanted to close the restaurant he came and visited us at Smoke in the North III. We talked about the Ideas we have for the future and he told us of his long time dream to have a “Wild Fire Truck“ doing promotions / events/ schoolings and many more cool stuff. This was fitting like a glove with our plans. We met shortly after in the Netherlands and made final plans when we was together in Atlanta…. Brainstorming became reality. People that got to know of Wessels idea told him he will never find people crazy enough to do this job…. They where wrong 😊
The Wildfire Truck is our new ride / classroom / outdoor Kitchen /Stage / Home on the road / competition set up and much more. We travel from expo to event to competition, schoolings and spread a wildfire of what we love: Food, Flavor, Grilling and Barbeque, Smoking or just teaching to live life to the fullest! The truck is a combination of our and Wessels ideas, combined with the best way to promote our passion and Kamado cooking. We show people the world of Kamado cooking, create recipes and share our passion and work as brand Ambassadors for Big Green Egg in whole Europe and school dealers and chefs how to use the Big Green Egg .
Where can we follow you and what are the next stages of the tour?
The website will be soon ready and there you will find all info about our travles, Recipes and much more !
Instergram wildfireontour but also see Flamingpigbbq.com Flaming Pig https://www.facebook.com/FLAMING-PIG-BBQ-254184671274902/?fref=ts and Jennys Barbeque https://www.facebook.com/Jennys-Barbeque-1664876187060425/?fref=ts on facebook for updates and recipes.
What goals and new projects aim to Thomas and Jenny for their future?
We are working on a book and on a Bookazine, we got some offers to do a BBQ Book but we thought we don’t want to do just another BBQ Book so it will be a special book with Recipes and more, not only pure BBQ 😊. The Bookazine will be about our passion we have for ceramic cooking 😉.
Beside that, Smoke in the North IV is in the making and the Wildfire Truck will have adventures for a couple of years….. So many ideas for it! 😉. Keep your eyes open, the future will tell!
We thank Thomas and Jenny for the time they have dedicated to us and we wish them best luck for all of their projects. We hope to have the opportunity to meet them soon at the next edition of The North or at one of the stages on the Wild on Fire Tour.