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Get Stuffed - Pit mister

Paul Street and the sweet mysteries of barbecue



"Barbecue is the most American of foods; to hell with apple pie.

If Congress decided to declare a national dish,

barbecue should win by acclamation."

– Dotty Griffith, Celebrating Barbecue

There are those who ski. There are those who golf. And, in America, there are those who barbecue.

When Paul Street toyed with the notion of converting Dusty’s to a barbecue nirvana some five or six years ago, he had no idea that he’d be swept up whole hog, so to speak, into the cultish Budweiser-annointed world of competitive barbecuing.

And he certainly never pictured himself – bona fide Canuck and mere mortal immersed in food and beverage management for Whistler-Blackcomb – in a park on the banks of the Mississippi River in sultry Memphis, Tennessee, grinning from ear to ear with his teammates after being declared overall grand champions (plus masters in the hog category), beating out some 230-odd teams in the 24-hour barbecue marathon known alternatively as the "Superbowl of Swine" or the great Memphis in May World Champ BBQ. Take your pick.

But once Paul started researching the notion of bringing gen-u-ine BBQ to Whistler – something we Canadians often confuse with mere grilling – he quickly found out that barbecue is nothing without a competitive edge.

"If you’re talking to a barbecuer, if you can’t go out and cook with these guys, who are you?" Paul points out. "There’s an amazing lack of restaurateurs out there willing to put it all on the line because they are going to get beat. A restaurateur who’s going to beat a seasoned competitor? It’s not going to happen."

Oh no?

• • •

Paul doesn’t mince his words, nor does he exaggerate. In fact, he’s a humble man who’s the first to admit that the key to the championship bestowed on his team, Jack’s Old South BBQ, was Vienna, Georgia’s own claim to barbecue fame, Myron Mixon.

"We’re his support team," he says. "We help him and do what needs to be done. But when it comes to recipes and formulating strategies, he’s the man." AKA: pit master.

Picture the – ahem – pit team in an Indy race. Myron drives the car and Paul and his six mates change the tires; they keep the fire going; they help put the sauce together; they keep the site clean; they help prepare the hogs they cook; and generally do what needs to be done to cook for 24 hours and come out with a world championship hog.

I know, I know – Dusty’s, or maybe Dixx down in Yaletown, has got you stoked on real BBQ. Or maybe you picked up your taste for it in Kansas City or Texas. A pile of ribs or brisket, cooked long and slow with just the right combo of sauce and smoke. You want all the little secrets behind that honkin’ hog. And so do I.