- What Is A Pitmaster?
- Pro Tips To Become A Bbq Pitmaster
- Everything You Need To Know About Bbq Pitmasters
- Pitmaster Favorites And Dalstrong Elite Bbq Pitmasters
- Frequently Asked Questions
BBQ pitmasters like Moe Cason, Tuffy Stone, Myron Mixon, Melissa Cookston, Eric Thomas, Lee Ann Whippen, and Aaron Franklin have paved the way for grill masters who want to work their way up in the world of barbecue.
You may have seen them on Destination America’s show, BBQ Pitmasters where pitmasters walked the audience through making everything from fresh ham and the most succulent smoked food. I’m here to walk you through all the tips and tricks to become a successful BBQ pitmaster.
1. What Is A Pitmaster?
The way I like to put it, a pitmaster is a barbecue enthusiast gone professional. These are people who know their way around a smoker or pellet grill. Whether it’s a side of authentic barbecue sauce, beef ribs, smoked brisket, crispy brisket flat ends, BBQ chicken wings, pig rib, pig butt, BBQ rib, or even smoked ribs and spare pork rib, pitmasters can bring a distinct flavor profile to these foods.
2. Pro Tips To Become A BBQ Pitmaster
World-famous BBQ pitmaster and owner of Franklin Barbecue Aaron Franklin started with a mere $99 smoker before becoming the pitmaster that every novice looks up to. So, it only makes sense to follow his advice on what it takes to become a successful pitmaster.
Aaron’s advice from the beginning for beginners in the BBQ world has always been “You can make barbecue out of anything, so buy the best product you can afford, just don’t skimp on materials”.
Choosing The Right Meat
Since beef briskets are cooked for multiple hours on end, the high-marble content will make a soft, yet juicy BBQ brisket. You can either look through the container of the meat package at your local grocery store or ask the butcher to show you different cuts for SMOKE BBQ.
Read about how to tell when smoked brisket is done, here.
Don’t Hesitate And Turn Up The Heat
“It’s ready when it’s ready”. A phrase that is no stranger to pitmasters. While the ‘low and slow’ method is quite common, Aaron Franklin suggests pitmasters turn up the heat. Cooking at temperatures between 200º F and 250º F is perfectly alright, and isn’t necessarily a temperature to check out when you’re done smoking your brisket.
Getting The Seasonings Right
Aaron Franklin suggests that using salt and pepper to get yourself started is perfectly alright. If you’re using a nice cut of meat for cooking BBQ pork, pork butt, beef ribs, pork rib, or even a classic side of chicken wings, you don’t want it to be overpowered with ten different seasonings and sauces.
Say No To Charcoal
Choose wood over charcoal any day. While there is a variety to pick from, as long as it’s hardwood or wood from a fruit-bearing tree, your meat will be evenly cooked with a well-balanced flavor profile.
3. Everything You Need To Know About BBQ Pitmasters
There’s a variety of BBQ pitmasters that have made their way up the ladder in the food world. Whether it’s getting the texture right with pulled pork or a good char on beef or pork rib, these pitmasters can do it all. Let us dive into a little more detail about their journey.
Johnny Trigg was born in Alvarado, Texas, and is a world-renowned celebrity chef who spent anywhere between 225 days to a year on the road and competed in nearly 50 barbecue contests. His barbecue team, the Smoking Triggers, were fondly named the Godfathers of BBQ and the New England Patriots of the barbecue world.
Johnny’s appearance in the Barbecue Hall of Fame was quite special, as he won the Grand Championship and received the title of BBQ Pitmaster – Upstaging the other BBQ pitmasters that were a part of the contest.
Myron Mixon is one of the most successful BBQ pitmasters out there and a name that is all too familiar in every barbecue enthusiast’s home, thanks to Destination America and BBQ Pitmasters. He took the culinary world by storm after he won third place in the challenge of cooking a decadent batch of pork shoulder.
Myron has won over a baffling 200 grand championships and 30 state championships. With 1,800 trophies to display to the world and a staggering 11 national championships, it’s safe to say that Myron Mixon is the king of beef briskets, pig BBQ, and mouth-watering barbecue sauces.
Tuffy Stone is yet another name that is very common in homes of those that love food, especially barbecue gold spots like pork belly, pulled pork, and spare ribs. Tuffy is a French-trained celebrity chef that has a keen affinity for the smoke that surrounds barbecue stations and pellet grills.
He has been seen in the Cool Smoke competition where he was then chosen as a member of the judge’s panel on Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters, quite similar to Myron Mixon.
Moe Cason was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa where he served in the U.S. Navy and received his nickname, ‘Big Mo’ – As seen on his infamous jars of chicken rubs and barbecue marinades. Not only is he a self-taught pitmaster, but also a judge on Destination America’s Pitmasters’ BBQ Pit Wars which aired in June 2016.
Big Mo’s jars, marinades, rubs, and sauces can be found in Walmart, which only makes sense since he has been actively partnering with Walmart’s Summer Rib Program which has been going on for an exciting 4 years.
Eric is an experienced pitmaster, thanks to his year’s worth of experience in teaching, catering succulent barbecue foods like spare ribs and suckling pig, and his cooking skills.
He was featured on BBQ Pitmasters, a show on Destination America that is widely loved and watched even today. Eric is also known well for his infamous I-20 BBQ rub that won accolades in the World Food Championships that took place in LA in 2013.
There are also renowned world-class female pitmasters to look up to such as Melissa Cookston and Lee Ann Whippen. These two female BBQ Pitmasters truly dominate the world of bbq with their roster of experience in major BBQ competitions. Melissa Cookston and Lee Ann Whippen have a roster of Pitmaster Championsip wins under their belts.
4. Pitmaster Favorites And Dalstrong Elite Bbq Pitmasters
But, before we dive into it, let me talk about these world-famous pitmasters and their favorite tools to work with, and for the Dalstrong Pros reading this, I’ll be walking you through the Dalstrong equivalent of these tools.
And, if that wasn’t enough already, some of Dalstrong’s Elite BBQ Pitmasters have shared their favorite Dalstrong products and we’re absolutely here for it.
World Famous Pitmasters And Their Favorite Knives1. Aaron Franklin
It only makes sense to start the list of pitmaster favorites with the one and only Aaron Franklin. Loved for making over 106 briskets in a day, Aaron is no stranger to the world of barbecue. His favorite tool to cut and chop meat is one with divots – These knives are also called scalloped knives.
The Dalstrong equivalent to this knife would definitely be the Butcher & Breaking Cimeter Knife that is 8 inches in length and will glide and slide along the most stubborn cuts of meat for a succulent final product of beef brisket with the most delightful brisket flat piece.
This breaking knife has smooth divots and scallops along its blade to decrease friction, as well as stop sticky meats like pork belly and beef ribs from sticking to it.
- This knife is made with premium quality German ThyssenKrupp steel that is sharpened by hand to a staggering 16-18º.
- The handle is comfortable to hold, ergonomic in your palm, and incredibly easy to clean.
- The tip of this breaking knife will help pick up and flip meats like fresh ham, brisket flat ends, and pork ribs.
- If you’re halfway through being a pitmaster, I suggest a longer blade length to take your skills to the next level.
- You could be looking for breaking knives without divots if that isn’t your cup of tea.
2. Johnny Triggs
Johnny Triggs owns the infamous BBQ restaurant, Smokin Triggers where he often cooks up his most loved delicacies with a long carving knife. And, of course, at Dalstrong, we’re quite big on slicing and carving knives.
- The pinch grip on the spine of this slicing knife is extremely flexible, so if you’re oscillating between different cuts of meat, this is the perfect knife to have on hand.
- The elegant satin finish of this knife calls for an easy cleaning process. The knife is low in maintenance, too.
- The blade length could be a little intimidating for home cooks that are just stepping foot into the barbecue world.
- Some folks prefer carving knife and fork sets, so if that rocks your boat, check out my favorite Dalstrong carving knife and fork set.
3. Tuffy Stone
Tuffy Stone is known for cooking the best BBQ chicken wings in the world of barbecue pitmasters. Apart from making other great dinner recipes such as fresh ham and barbecue sauce plates, his go-to tool is a fillet or boning knife to tackle stubborn cuts of meat – Especially when he’s working with pork or beef to make pork butt or beef.
This boning knife from the Shogun series is made with a Japanese super steel core that is known for its rust and corrosion-resistant nature. The durability of this knife is phenomenal, too.
- The knife’s red ABS handle makes it striking to look at and ten fold luxurious to hold.
- The Dalstrong copper mosaic on the handle is worth mentioning, too. It elevates the appearance of your knife beyond imagination.
- This boning knife will have you reaping all the benefits thanks to its impervious nature towards hot and cold temperatures.
- You may not be a fan of ABS handles, which is perfectly alright. As a pitmaster, a knife should always showcase your cooking style.
- If you’re looking to elevate your pitmaster skills, a longer blade length would be ideal.
Dalstrong Elite BBQ Pitmasters And Their Favorite Knives
Alex’s favorite Dalstrong tool is one that is loved by all of us. It’s the Kiritsuke Chef’s Knife that is 8.5 inches in length and a stunning chef with a non-slip grip from the Omega series. Alex said that he fell in love with the Omega series and is a fan of the Phantom and Shogun series, too.
I like to describe this knife as the one for aspiring pitmasters and meat lovers who love getting their chef on and working through the most stubborn cuts of meat like pork butt and smoked food and BBQ delicacies.
- The full tang grip and spine on the knife are perfect for minimal resistance when you work on the joints and bones in chicken, beef, and pork.
- The razor-like sharpness makes this knife an easy contender for one of Dalstrong’s best chef’s knives.
- Since this knife has a higher price tag to it, home cooks who are just beginning their culinary journey might find it a big investment.
- While the Liquid Metal pattern across the blade was designed to stop food from sticking to the blade, some folks might prefer simpler-looking chef knives.
Jabin P’s favorite Dalstrong pitmaster essential is this chef’s knife from the Shogun series. This knife is as sharp as a scalpel and engineered with a full tang and triple riveted design to last folks for decades on end. Check out all you have to know about this treasure.
The knife has a show-stopping appearance, thanks to its military-grade G10 handle that is sturdy and durable. The blade is rust and corrosion-resistant which is a big factor to increase the durability of chef knives. This knife is ideal for working with spare ribs or pork meals.
- Tremendously easy to clean the handle and blade.
- The hand-polished spine boosts the robustness of this knife.
- The blade is cryogenically tempered to work with ease when dealing with large cuts of chicken, beef, or pork.
- The price of this knife may be outside of the budget for some folks.
- If you’re comfortable working with long blades and large cuts of meats, a boning or break knife might be a better fit.
Mel Chmilar, Jr. absolutely loves his Cimiter from the Shogun series. And, we get it. This knife is known for its spectacular edge retention, thanks to the blade that’s made with 67 layers of Damascus steel.
This breaking knife is ideal for folks who want to work with whole carcasses, especially when working with pork shoulder and large spreads of smoked food like briskets.
- The blade is robust and sturdy as it is hardened at a striking 62+ Rockwell.
- The spine is hand-polished and has a comfortable fit in the palm for when you’re cutting big chunks of meat for long periods of time.
- The military-grade G10 handle has a phenomenal grip
- The blade length could be a smidge overwhelming for home cooks transitioning to the pitmaster world.
- If you prefer a handle made with resin or entirely with Damascus steel, this breaking knife may not be the perfect fit for all your BBQ needs.
Chuck Matto’s go-to Dalstrong knife is the Barong from the Gladiator series. I’m happy to report that I, too love this knife. The asymmetrical shape of this knife gives it an edge over other knives. Chuck loves this knife in its original 7-inch length.
Made with the infamous high-carbon German ThyssenKrupp steel that is sharp, strong, and robust like no other knife in the game. The tapered blade along with its comfortable pinch grip is indeed, one for the books.
- This knife is not only striking to look at but also comfortable to hold.
- The highly impervious nature of this knife makes it safe to use around moisture and extreme hot and cold temperatures.
- It cleans tremendously well and is quite low in maintenance.
- If you prefer traditional-looking knives, the appearance of the Barong may seem a little out of the ordinary for some folks.
- You could be on the lookout for knives that cater more towards large, stubborn cuts of meat.
Guga, like us, is a fan of Dalstrong’s Shogun series! His absolute favorite is the 12-inch slicing and carving knife, thanks to its versatility and robustness that makes it incredibly easy to work with large chunks of meat.
The blade on this staggering knife is made with 67 layers of Damascus. So, not only is it resistant to corrosion and rust, it has a non-slip grip that is pure perfection for pitmasters that need a more sturdy hand to carve their meats after hours of barbecuing!
- Full tang blade that is engineered to help you make the most of this knife, preferably for a lifetime.
- Enjoy the finger protection and sturdy hold on this knife, thanks to its tapered bolster design.
- Divots engraved along the blade to keep meat from sticking to the blade and decrease prep time.
- This could seem a little too much blade if you’re not comfortable working with long knives.
- The price tag on this knife may be outside of the budget for some folks.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
Who is a famous grill master?
Aaron Franklin is a world-famous BBQ pitmaster who took the world by storm and is hands down, the best-known grillmaster. He started his own restaurant Franklin Barbecue with a $99 smoker before being termed as the ultimate BBQ pitmaster. Other famous grillmasters include Tuffy Stone and Johnny Triggs.
Who is the best BBQ pitmaster in the world?
While this depends entirely on whose barbecue methods you relate with more, Aaron Franklin has made a name for himself – Starting with a $99 smoker grill before turning into a world-class celebrity chef that has numerous accolades and achievements to his name.
How long does it take to become a pitmaster?
Even pitmasters today who have made a name for themselves say that they’ll never perfect the art of barbecuing because it is a lifelong process of playing with meats, flavors, and marinades. In Aaron Franklin’s words, “You can make barbecue out of anything, so buy the best product you can afford, just don’t skimp on materials”.