Elliott “El Guapo” Buckner
Elliot, Pitmaster
What first attracted you to BBQ
My love for eating bbq has been around for a long time. I still remember the first time I tasted real, slow-cooked bbq. It was at a small lunch counter type place not far from the interstate in the middle of North Carolina. It was love at first bite. Like a first kiss (from the hot girl you’d been eyeing for a long time, not the heifer you kissed on a dare), the intoxicating sight, smell and taste of that Q still lingers in my memory. While I ate plenty of Q after that, it would be a number of years before I started cooking my own. That started innocently enough when my wife bought me a little electric “bullet” smoker that she thought I would have fun making beef jerky on. It was a gift she would soon regret for the rest of her life. From those modest beginnings behind a small apartment in Richmond, Virginia I taught myself the art and science of Q. The equipment and the locations have changed through the years, but the sight of smoke billowing out of a stack at the end of a smoker still gives me chills.
What first attracted you to BBQ competitions
After retiring as a highly sought-after male model and being sidelined from competitive ice sculpting by a recurring shoulder injury sustained in my 2nd year with the Calgary Stampede of the Canadian Football League, I needed an outlet for my creative and competitive energies. After dabbling with an underground curling organization and racing lawn mowers in a semi-professional league in the mid-west I heard about competitive BBQ. Once I learned a little more about it and realized it was essentially a 24 hour tailgate centered around cooking Q, I was in.
Favorite part of BBQ competitions
The best part of the competition is right after the judge’s meeting until the first meats go on the cooker. All of the hard work is done – the site is set up, the meat is prepped, the cook strategy is on the board – and there is no fire to tend yet. This is the down-time when the bevies flow a little freer, the stories get a little longer, and generally the really stupid stuff happens. But the real reason this time is great is because of the time I get to spend with my brother and buddies, all Buckner Brothers at heart – and watch them do the stupid stuff I previously mentioned.
Favorite competition beverage
Without a doubt it is the mint julep – the official beverage of BBBBQ. But not just any julep. This is crafted with care from a special pre-civil war Buckner family recipe: the finest aged bourbon; mint from a south facing field picked before the dew escapes just before sun-up; pure cane sugar from pre-revolution Cuba; and just a splash of melted glacier water.
How will BBBBQ eventually take over the world
one bite at a time.