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How does one qualify as a barbecue master?

You can’t judge yourself. You have to have other people tell you, “That’s good. That’s really good.” Most men, I think, will say they know how to barbecue. That’s a man’s thing. You go outside and cook. Not to stereotype or be prejudicial. Women traditionally are not good barbecue people. It’s a guy’s thing. So, when people tell you, “Man, that’s good! How did you make that?” That’s a compliment.

What do you prefer: smoking or grilling?

It depends on what you’re doing. I like the low and slow. So, I like to smoke a brisket. Chicken parts turn out good. And also pork. But if I was going to do a steak? Grill it. That’s not something you want to cook for eight hours. That’s 20 minutes … Use different pieces of barbecuing equipment for kind of what you want to do. The beauty of the electric [smoker] is you just set your thermostat and walk away.

How much does one of those run?

I had mine modified to run on 220 [voltage] from the factory and mine was around $500. But you can get them cheaper in the States. I bought mine from the factory, because I wanted mine modified. But you can actually get them for $400. It depends. They have $1,500 home models … They’re like the Rolls Royce of home barbecue. But if you go into the B/X they have some very expensive stainless steel grills, also. Weber makes a $3,000 stainless steel gas grill. And you’re like, “That’s $3,000 to grill a steak!”

What do you prefer: gas or charcoal?

I like the convenience. So, when I do steaks, and chops and flank steaks, I do gas. I don’t have time. It takes at least 45 minutes to get your darn coals nice and hot.

What tool or utensil can you not live without for your barbecuing?

You have to have a thermometer. I even have a digital remote one … and then I have one for the smoker. And I have a little sending unit that sits on top. And it was only 40 bucks. I can sit in the house, and it will tell me the temperature of my smoker and the temperature of my meat. And this way I can see, “Oh, I’m too hot. Oh, I’m too cold.”

Who do you look up to as far as a barbecue chef?

There’s a guy named Paul Kirk. He’s the “Baron of Barbecue.” He’s won like 400 barbecue awards. He has a catering service. He lives in Kansas City. I have one of his books … The guy who does the Barbecue Bible [Steve Raichlen]. I have two of his books. He has barbecue seminars in some five-star hotels and it’s $3,000. And I’m like, “I’m not spending $3,000 for this guy to tell me how to cook a chicken on a grill.”

Instead you could buy that $3,000 grill.

Yeah.

What’s the best sign that you’ve made a good barbecue?

They either want a doggie bag or there’s not a lot left. I can usually tell, or they’ll tell me.

Chris Randel

Age: 45

Title: “Barbecue Master” whose ultimate dream is to open his barbecue joint in Germany. (Day job: Retired from the Air Force on May 1 after 24 years. Last served as the special assistant to the chief of staff of the 3rd Air Force at Ramstein Air Base.)

Europe readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: news@estripes.osd.mil.

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