Up In Smoke…The Reformed Life of Part-Time Pitmasters

Its been one year since we handed over the keys to our beloved BBQ catering trailer and watched it, and our little part-time BBQ life, drive off into the distance.

Something you may not know about Husband and I, about 6 years ago we started a barbecue catering and concessions business.  It is one of a couple side gigs that we have owned/held.  It all started not long after Hayden was born and I went back to work (a week later – no maternity leave for a sub-contractor) and was just unhappy with my career and whining about wanting my own business.  So, Husband took our tax return and drove to Athens, Georgia and bought a smoker!  Not that I ever said I wanted to be a barbecue caterer…nevertheless I stopped complaining about having my own business!

I am a decent cook but not trained formally and had NEVER in my life “smoked” anything!  Husband began experimenting with temperatures, woods and cuts of meat while I concocted several barbecue sauces and learned how to make coleslaw and my own version of baked beans.  You read that correctly, I am a country girl who did not like and had never made coleslaw or baked beans!  No worries though, I have mended my ways and by the time we closed our proverbial doors last year I had it down to a fine art!

Soon, Husband and I signed up to do concessions at a few local festivals.  I think we only smoked 3 pork shoulders (Boston Butts) the first festival!  By the end, we would smoke anywhere from 25-30 Boston Butts for a single day festival and hope that we didn’t run out of barbecue!  Our little business grew in no time and by the fall of that year we were catering our first wedding!  It was on our anniversary of all days! In the early days we smoked the day of an event and hand-pulled all of the barbecue!  Thinking about it now, I am not sure how we had time to do anything else…I do recall MANY late nights and super early mornings.  We eventually purchased a tool for Husband’s drill that made light work of pulling the pork and even had the ability to smoke days and months in advance by vacuum sealing and freezing the barbecue!  No more were rainy or cold days a hindrance to the timing of our events or our stress levels!

It was a great time in our lives.  As our girls grew they enjoyed helping out at concession events and catered affairs.  Their favorites were always weddings; Elle and Christina became expert bubble-blowers and bird seed throwers, as well as baked bean connoisseurs and held the secret to our coveted, homemade blackberry barbecue sauce.  These events also peaked Christina’s interest in photography as she was never far behind when the wedding photographer pulled out his camera; the girls even made their way into several photographic memories! It was an amazing experience to be a small part of someone’s special day.  As a criminal defense attorney, I do not often have the opportunity to witness my clients’ happy moments and catering was a welcomed break.

But I suppose every part of our lives only remains in a season and barbecue season had come to an end for us.  Our girls are older and more active than ever and we realized that it was more important for us to relish every warm summer afternoon or fall day with them , rather than slinging barbecue out of a concession window or spending long nights cleaning up long after the wedding reception ended and the bride and groom drove off into the sunset!  Also, barbecue catering is exhausting, back-breaking work and Husband and I did not have as many “all-nighters” in us as we did 6 years ago!

We cherished our time behind the smoker and the benefits it brought our family ($$ and LOTS of family time in our cramped concession trailer, along with lessons of hard work and kindness) but for now the impending break in the weather means we lace up our hiking shoes instead of tying on our aprons!

Who knows, maybe we will fire up the smoker and venture our of retirement when the kids are all away at college…maybe!

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