NAME: Chris Schafer
TEAM NAME: Heavy Smoke
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED WITH BBQ: I attended my first competition in 2010 and cooked my first category in 2011
WHO DO YOU COOK WITH, HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ON YOUR TEAM: There are 4 members on Heavy Smoke. My brother in law Jim Wickerham, two friends Danny and Dustin Vohs, and myself. The 3 members of my team are new to competition BBQ and are learning very fast.
HOW MANY COMPETITIONS HAVE YOU COOKED IN: 27
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN BBQ: I had experience as a restaurant cook and worked with a good friend named Cole Harte who was already cooking competition BBQ. Cole asked if I wanted to hang out at a competition and even though we didn’t do well I was hooked. Cole gave me the chicken category and I spent a couple years just cooking chicken and practicing the other meats in the back yard. In 2014 due to conflicting schedules with the Cole’s Sweet Heat team I decided to cook a competition on my own as Heavy Smoke. After taking RGC in that event I stuck with Heavy Smoke and have been cooking under that name since.
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT YOUR FIRST COMPETITION: My most vivid memory from my first competition was watching the team next to us set their gravity fed smoker on fire. They had flames shooting 3 feet out if the top and when they opened the door flames went crazy… And they scored better than us on every category.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR NEW COOKS: practice how you compete and compete how you practice. Structure and consistency is the most important thing. Even if you are unsure after a practice, don’t change things on competition day.
WHAT IS YOUR COOKING STYLE AND COOKER OF CHOICE: I use different methods for different meats, some hot and fast and some low and slow. I’m a can cooker. I make my own barrel smokers because I have been the most consistent with them.
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET WEAPON AT A COMPETITION: My secret weapon is my thermopen
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COMPETITION MEAT? WHAT POINTERS DO YOU HAVE FOR COOKING IT: My favorite competition meat is chicken because I have been cooking it the longest and it has won me the most awards. The best tip I can give for chicken is to trim it as uniform as you can. Most people think it’s for appearance but I do it so it all cooks the same every time and my timeline always holds true.
FAVORITE ST. LOUIS BBQ SOCIETY EVENT: My favorite SLBS event was Bluesweek but I think Eureka may be my new favorite. Any competition that is on a Saturday/Sunday is my favorite.
BBQ ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF: RGC at Bunge last year.
WHAT DOES YOUR BBQ FUTURE HOLD: Hopefully my BBQ future will be filled with many more comps and some GCs and RGCs
HOW DO WE GET A HOLD OF YOU: