Friday, November 28, 2008

Interviews: Chef Richard McPeake

Chef Richard McPeake is the author of 'Backyard BBQ: The Art of Smokeology' and the creator of the Rib Stars series of BBQ rubs. He is also an avid BBQ competitor with his rubs winning numerous prestigious contests. In addition to his other concerns, Chef McPeake conducts over 90 Smoking and Grilling seminars a year.

Chef McPeake was kind enough to agree to be interviewed for the Home of BBQ.

When did you first become interested in cooking?

I started in the restaurant business when I was 14 in Wisconsin. Started cooking almost immediately (after I mastered pot washing)

What inspired that interest?

Actually needed to get a job, and I just liked cooking. My mother was a chef in a restaurant I used to hang out in the kitchen.

Who has been your biggest influence on your cooking?

My mom and a Gentleman named Dan Durick, Chef Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America.

How did your interest in cooking become more specialized and move into BBQ?

Actually, we had a chain of BBQ restaurants at Gilbert Robinson (KC based company) during the 80's called Sam Wilson' meat market, they were huge BBQ restaurant with awesome food. Bradley Ogden was a cook at one of them.

When did you decide that a hobby would become a business venture?

I didn't it just happened. Today, I own a Rib Line (3 each), have three cookbooks and 16 different classes, besides my current chef job. I have traveled all over promoting BBQ.

What separates RibStars rubs from the other products on the market?

I did a different flavor profile for each meat and they are one of the first is not the frist to be MSG free. I also use my bottled rubs in BBQ contest as is. They are also lower in sodium than most, which I thing is important.

Can you discuss the process of writing 'Backyard BBQ'?

I author and publish my books, which allows me to control what I want to achieve. I did a lot of testing on the recipes. A lot of the recipes are from some of my classes. The biggest thing I am proud of is that ALL the recipes are my own, I do not use anyone else's recipes. I have self tested each one. I hired a printing company in Michigan and a local graphic artist for my new covers.

Without the internet and some very good friends in the book business I would not have been able to get my books done.

Backyard BBQ, was a BIG labor of love, and currently has been on the Best Seller list of for BBQ books for the past 28 months, which has just been unbelievable.
It takes up a lot of my time, since I ship out all the books on my own. I am coming out with a NEW fourth book in early 09, which will be a combination BBQ book on grilling and smoking, with all the info and recipes from all 16 different classes and new info I have been doing over the past four years.

What is it about BBQ that has captured your imagination and driven your passion?

I like the fact that it gets me away front he stress of work and I meet all kinds of new people and friends from all over the country. Teaching has been my love for a long time, I learn as much from the students as I do teaching them new things. Teaching some new about how to improve their BBQ and then having them tell me later how great their BBQ is now, is the best reward of all.

If you were speaking with someone from a completely different culture, what would you want them to know about BBQ?

That it is about a passion of love for food, I am proud that BBQ has become a known cuisine of America. I also, would tell how BBQ is one the one of the cooking process that people can really create their unique own flavors.

You are involved in different aspects of BBQ. Through discussions with the public and your book 'Backyard BBQ', you are an ambassador for the hobby. With your rubs, you provide assistance to those trying to make the best 'Q possible. You engage in competition where you pit your 'Q against your peers. What aspect of BBQ appeals to you the most?

I love to teach and promote BBQ. The competition part is we me mostly about seeing old friends and relaxing. I love the fact that through all our hard work (BBQers and the American Culinary Federation, we have achieve BBQ as a American food all around the world. There are Chefs from all over the world wanting to learn from us how to do good and proper BBQ. That is why at the Central Region Culinary Conference we featured it in Kansas City and did the whole three conference on KC BBQ, with a contest, tastings and demos.

Do you have a traditional or favorite meal? Something that you have on regular, special occasions such as a birthday or Fourth of July?

I love to do Cedar Planked whole sides of Salmon, topped with a Sun-dried Tomato Pesto, with a little bit of my Hot Rib Rub! (Needed to get that one in, lol!)

What is your favorite BBQ side dish?

Cheesey Potato Casserole and Creamed Cheddar Corn

Do you have any hobbies outside of BBQ? Have those hobbies influenced your BBQ?

I spend time with my camera shooting images of bugs, specially spiders, I also, check out the planets with my telescope as much as I can. Yes, they have made me appreciate the quiet, dark nights of BBQ when I am at a contest. There is a lot to see on a perfect night.

What is your favorite drink?

Dr. Pepper

If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could have any four books and one grill or smoker with you, what would you choose?

Cuban Cooking Cookbook, Island Cooking Hawaiian Style, Rachael Ray's 30 minute Meals Cook Book and any book by Cat Cora. (I already know by heart what is in mine! lol) I would only want a Good-One smoker, since you can smoke, roast, grill and bake on or in it.

What would you like our readers to know about you personally?

That I love to promote and teach people how to make better BBQ whether it be smoked or grilled. That is why I was awarded the American Culinary Federations President's Gold Medal Award for teaching and promoting BBQ. Let's all remember to love and enjoy what we do and always pay your knowledge forward.

We appreciate Chef McPeake taking the time away from his busy schedule to speak with us. Backyard BBQ: The Art of Smokeology can be purchased from, Hawgeye BBQ, Smoke N Fire (web site and store), Culinary Center of Kansas City and the Backyard Bash BBQ Store in Parkville, MO.


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