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Steve Vasquez was a chef at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City for many years.  Steve and several others in the Kansas City area shared an interest in smoked meats and barbecue cooking.  They started having small barbecue competitions in the local communities.  Steve and his wife, Patty  were a part of that group.  Everyone got together on Friday nights and smoked meats and made sauces all night long.  A lot of beer and liquor was consumed during that process.  However, only a small portion of it actually made it to the finished product.  The food was well seasoned and so were the cooks.  Everyone enjoyed themselves. 

That same group of people decided they should organize their group and create some rules for their "contests."  The first rule was that everything they did should be fun.  That rule still stands today.  That group has evolved into an extremely large group of barbecue connoisseurs now known as the Kansas City Barbecue Society.  Today the KCBS sanctions barbecue events and sets rules and guidelines for a multitude of barbecue competitions.  KCBS is recognized nationally and internationally.  The American Royal Barbecue  is an invitational contest and is one of those events sanctioned by the KCBS.  It Is known as, "The World Series of Barbecue."  To qualify for the American Royal each team has to win barbecue contests throughout the season, based on points earned for their amazing food.  The KCBS educates and qualifies judges who attend the contests and render their verdicts. 

Circa 1980 Steve Vasquez , using his considerable cooking experience, designed a smoker for use in competitions.  He designed it well.  It has a 400 gallon main tank, which allows for three levels of cooking.  The main cooking platform will hold approximately 75 full slabs of ribs while being smoked to perfection.  An upper shelf can be loaded with beef briskets, pork butts or other large cuts and pushed toward the back of the smoker, for extended smoking.  If the main shelf is removed, there are sliding hooks in the top of the tank to allow hanging full animals.  

Steve designed the smoker with competitions in mind.  It carries it's own supply of wood.  There is a cutting table which mounts on the side of the smoker, handy for use by the pit master.  The smoker utilizes an offset fire box, which will accept two-foot logs.  There is an independent warming oven above the fire box.  It contains shelving to keep food warm to allow for additional smoking space.  There are mounts on the side of the smoker for flag poles.  Steve was a former Marine.  He proudly flew the Marine Corps flag next to the American flag at every show.  When the flags are removed, those mounts double for holding two 8 foot long tables for travelling to the contest sites.  Steve put a lot of thought and planning into the smoker. That's for sure.  A fellow smoking enthusiast built the smoker for Steve and Patty.  He must have done a pretty good job, because it's the same smoker we're using today. 

Patty Vasquez was my sister.  Steve was my brother-in-law.  Steve, Patty and I competed in many, many contests using that smoker.  We traveled over several states and spent a lot of nights tending the smoker.  But, we had a lot of fun.  We won a lot of ribbons, plaques and trophies.  At the American Royal, we won Reserve Grand-Champion in the Overall Pork competition.  Someone apparently liked our food. 

Steve and Patty kept their rub recipes very close to the vest.  As far as I know, they shared it with no one.  They took their secrets to their graves...almost.  After Steve died, Patty gave the smoker to me, because I had been a part of their cooking team, known as P&S Enterprizes.  No, that word is not misspelled.  Steve said he was, "Entering for Prizes."  If you check the records you'll find the P&S Enterprizes  team name was registered as a member of the KCBS; as a charter member, I believe.  My only claim to fame,  was to have my name printed in the back of the KCBS cookbook, as a member.  That, and the fact that I was taught by two of the very best barbecue cooks anywhere.  They taught me a lot over the years.  Patty eventually even told me what the, "secret ingredients" for her rub included.  That rub is what we use today.  And, before you ask, the answer is no.  I will not share it with you.

I worked for over 30 years as a Sheriff's Deputy in Jefferson County, Kansas.  I retired  as a Detective Sergeant November 1, 2013.  Now, I have the time to get back to smoking meat.  Over the past few years, my family  and I have enjoyed camping.  One thing we discovered was cast-iron cooking.  Cooking outside over coals can be challenging, but, it is a lot of fun, as well.  After testing a lot of recipes we have come up with a few of our favorites.  We have had others say they are pretty tasty, too.  We hope to share some of those favorites with you.  It is a combination of smoked meats and cast-iron cooking we will offer for you.  I hope you enjoy them.  Come visit with us.  Sit around the fire.  Watch the process.  Then, you can be the judge.  We'll be happy to have you, as our guests.