By, Jim Knepper
I spend probably more time than I should watching ‘trends’ and ‘data’ about all kinds of foodservice operations across the country. I watch the Independents, MUFSO’s, QSR’s and Catering of all types closely. I have seen many food ‘trends’ come and go over the year, some of them only to re-appear on the food scene years later!
All that said, I have begun to read, hear and feel an undercurrent of questions about the ‘State of BBQ in America’ as it exists today and where it’s heading. I’ve read more than one eloquent ‘foodie opinion’ or industry ‘expert’ suggest that the ‘BBQ trend is unsustainable’ and that it is ‘on its way out’.
Well, with all due respect I could not disagree more with those assessments! I mean, I buy that the era of the ‘celebrity chef’ may eventually become far less prominent in our country than it is today and that every dog will have its day on the national ‘food tv’ stage…but BBQ? Those who assume that it’s some passing ‘fad, style or technique’ simply don’t get it!
Since its origins in America, BBQ has been about folks gathering together for a communal experience of sharing food and conversation while honoring the sacrifices of the farmer and their yields! It is indeed an incredible style of food and a not-so-easily mastered technique, but there are many more facets to it than that!
‘BBQ People’ are GOOD people! They are there for you when you need help and are always willing to ‘chew the fat’ about smokers, meats, boxes and just about all things ‘Que’! They are folks who can typically name a BBQ spot wherever you may be going in the country and are usually spot on! They enjoy camaraderie and collective experiences while preserving one of the oldest cooking techniques in the world!
BBQ’s not going anywhere! Maybe the short lived TV popularity will eventually fade as even the KING (American Chopper) of ‘reality tv’ did…but to assume that ‘BBQ’ is merely something that someone does or eats is doing an injustice to what ‘BBQ’ is really all about!
There are National, Regional and Local BBQ Organizations committed to bringing together ‘BBQ People’ for Contests and Gatherings steeped in tradition. There are MANY charitable BBQ Organizations committed to feeding the hungry or Disaster Relief, such as Operation BBQ Relief (www.OperationBBQRelief.org) which of course all leads back to the ‘good people’ assertion.
SO…for all of you food trend followers, find another ‘food trend’ to discard…BBQ’s doing just fine!