I love all things barbecue. I love reading about it. I love talking to others about it. I love cooking it. I love sharing it. Most of all, I love eating it.
I recently finished reading Mike Mills’ Peace, Love & Barbecue, and went to the KCBS website that was listed in the back of the book. While I was wandering around the site I noticed a link for classes. To my surprise The Heat Exchange Hearth and Patio Shoppe was holding a class taught by award winning pitmaster Chris Marks of Three Little Pigs in Kansas City, Missouri. I knew this was something I really wanted to do.
It’s been my experience that barbecue classes (like food) can range from the very expensive (Myron Mixon from Jack’s Old South offers a three day course for the low, low price of $750) to the extremely reasonable five hour course with Chris Marks for just $75. A cursory search through the KCBS website showed that classes offered by these experienced pitmasters hovered in the $200-$300 range.
If you haven’t been to Heat Exchange Hearth and Patio Shoppe in North Ridgeville, you’ve got to go. If there’s a store in northeast Ohio with a better selection of barbecue and grilling gear I’d like to know where it is. They sell an absolute ton of grills, smokers, tools, charcoal, and smoking wood. Most places carry either chips or chunks, but I was pretty stoked to find quartered logs of apple wood that measure roughly 6” in length.
Without giving the blow by blow of the entire class, all I can say is that there really wasn’t a point where you weren’t talking about barbecue with either Chris or your fellow classmates. In fact, I found the exchanges between some of the others at my table equally enlightening. A guy at my table, who also has a Big Green Egg, was telling me about how great the BBQ Guru works. The value of the class wasn’t just what the instructor was sharing, but also the exchange of information from the other attendees.
At the end of the class you took home the ribs that you prepped (that had been smoking during the entire instruction) to be finished in the oven. I can say that I walked away with a few more tricks than I had come with. I think what I liked most was that the lessons weren’t being delivered as the absolute right way or wrong way. Chris Mark does a great job of patiently answering every question that is asked of him. It was just a great experience.
So is all lost? Did you miss your opportunity? Well, yes and no. Chris will be coming back on Friday September 24th for a 3 hour grilling class that covers meat, fish, and vegetables. The next day he will be holding a Brisket and Pork Butt class that covers everything from marinades to rubs to injection to finishing techniques. If it’s anything like the Ribs and Chicken class, he will answer any and every question that relates to the subject.
I typically don’t post anything that I myself am not going to, but literally three days before this Brisket and Pork Butt class was scheduled we booked our vacation to San Francisco. My recommendation is that you sign up sooner rather than later (there’s only 30 seats). There were people who had come from Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and even one from Canada who ended up not showing. I have no financial interest in any of this, but walked away so impressed with both the store and the class that I want people who truly love barbecue to know about this.
These are some other classes that are a little more expensive (Viking) and a little cheaper (OCBC) for those who might live on the east side or in Akron/Canton. If you haven’t been to Old Carolina you should try it.
Other barbecue classes currently available (Click class title for links to the class):
The Heat Exchange Hearth & Patio Shoppe - $75.00 Brisket and Pork Butt, $50.00 Grilling Class
Old Carolina Barbecue Co. (at Belden Village Store) - $29.95 Basic Barbecue, $19.95 Creative Grilling
Loretta Paganini - $55.00 How to make four different kinds of ribs (4 seats left)
Viking Cooking School - $135 Barbecue Basics