NAME: Leah Cherni
TEAM NAME: Captain Porkard of the USS Burnt Enderprise
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED WITH BBQ: We started in BBQ in September 2014, we’ve been into all foods and cuisines for a long time as my husband is a Chef.
WHO DO YOU COOK WITH, HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ON YOUR TEAM: Leah Cherni, Rob Cherni, Phil Robinson, Bill Pinkston, Drew Pinkston. Family and very close friends is what our team is composed of.
HOW MANY COMPETITIONS HAVE YOU COOKED IN: We are a smaller team so we compete a few times a year, so we’ve done over a dozen competitions over the years but stay involved with judging and helping out in other ways for the SLBS.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN BBQ: We entered the Wildwood Bash in 2014 because we thought competition BBQ looked like fun. We got a 2nd place rib call and at that moment we were hooked.
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT YOUR FIRST COMPETITION: What we remember most is how nice everyone was and how willing people were to help each other. The whole weekend was overwhelming but we couldn’t have done it without help from our neighboring teams as we had never competed before and we were having some issues. I love that the SLBS is like a family, we are all there for each other like brothers and sisters.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR NEW COOKS: The Backyard Series wasn’t around when I first started so I think that is a wonderful way to dive into competition BBQ. I also think taking a certified judges class helps a lot. Talk to other teams, ask questions, make friends. BBQ is a friendly sport and having a lot of fun is part of it.
WHAT IS YOUR COOKING STYLE AND COOKER OF CHOICE: We cook Low and Slow on a Yoder Loaded Witchita. We enjoy the time it takes and honing our craft through the old school method.
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET WEAPON AT A COMPETITION: One of our secret weapons is our cooking fuel. We use a lot of quality woods to get the flavor and smoke that we want. Smoke is an essential ingredient in any good BBQ.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COMPETITION MEAT? WHAT POINTERS DO YOU HAVE FOR COOKING IT: My favorite is ribs. There’s so many ways you can cook them and I can’t get enough of them. As far as pointers, ALWAYS make sure your membrane is removed. That can ruin the best tasting ribs out there.
FAVORITE ST. LOUIS BBQ SOCIETY EVENT: Favorite event would have to be the Gala! Recognizing all the hard work of teams and judges, all coming together at the end of the year to celebrate the BBQ season.
BBQ ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF: I am an active member of the St Louis BBQ Society and have loved helping and promoting the BBQ Society. My proudest accomplishment is an award I received a couple years ago. The Above and Beyond award I was awarded is a special recognition for going the extra step to help in the society.
WHAT DOES YOUR BBQ FUTURE HOLD: BBQ is not only my hobby, it’s a passion of mine. Due to some medical issues I was forced to retire from my career and wasn’t sure where to go from there but then we found BBQ. At the beginning I knew very little but now, after years of hard work, research, learning at every opportunity I can, and making lots of wonderful friends along the way, I can say that BBQ is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
HOW DO WE GET A HOLD OF YOU: