Learning to Cook Smoked BBQ At Home

It’s not as difficult as it may seem to learn how to make your own, wood smoked BBQ at home!  Nor is it an expensive technique to learn, although it can become a ‘habit’ and we all know that they can get expensive as we progress with our skills!  In fact, Jim’s alwaysGQ4U! Competition BBQ heard saying that ‘BBQ is easy to learn to do, but takes a lifetime to master’!  So, perhaps all you need to get started is some basic information about equipment and meat selection and the process itself!  Perhaps you’re already equipped to cook indirect using the low and slow technique, but you need to dial in your skills a bit?  What about cooking the ‘whole hog’…a popular concept on the BBQ TV shows and not too tough to do at home with a small hog!

No matter your interest, as the Catering season begins to wind down, the BBQ Classes begin to crank up here at GreatQ4U!  We’ve already scheduled September dates for our ‘BBQ101‘ and ‘BBQ 201’ as well as our ‘Whole Hog’ and ‘BBQ Business’ classes, they can be found on our website: www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html where by choosing the ‘Pay Now’ option under each class, you can sign up and save your spot as they are limited attendance events!  If those dates don’t work for you, we should have October dates up by the end of cropped-butts.jpgthis week!  In addition to the ‘Master Class’ series of programs, we will also be scheduling ‘Wednesday Night Workshops’ where in 3 hours, we will cover basic BBQ Recipes; preparation, cooking and best of all tasting!  So…stay tuned to the Website or our FaceBook page for more details!

Why learn to BBQ in the Fall?  Well, you can browse back through years of posts here on the Blog to read Jim’s thoughts on BBQ in the cooler months and how it’s even BETTER!  We believe strongly that BBQ is not just for the Summer months and that the cooler cropped-alabama-ribs.jpgtemps of the Fall and Winter lend themselves to some AWESOME product!  SO…check out the classes and save your spot soon, we would LOVE to have you join us at the shop in Mechanicsburg, PA!  We’ve structured the BBQ101 and 201 classes so that you can take a whole weekend and learn all four types of meat cooked in Kansas City BBQ Society sanctioned competitions!  Again, the classes are available to sign up for on the site: www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html

For more information, feel free to e-mail Jim: Jim@GreatQ4U.com – Thanks for reading along and we hope you make this an AWESOME week!

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GreatQ4U! – Central PA’s one Stop BBQ Shop!

As we begin our TENTH year of operations and look toward longer and hopefully much OBR Harrisburg 1013warmer days ahead, we are proud to say that after a decade of being a ‘one trick’ pony, we have evolved!  Indeed we still specialize in wood-smoked BBQ Catering and have begun the process of getting the ‘BBQ Battlewagon’ Fire Trucks set up and ready to roll for your Spring and Summer Parties and your Fall Tailgating festivities, but there is obviously more to us than just BBQ now!

As the world of BBQ hits mainstream TV and the number of folks that are getting into the BBQ Restaurant and Catering business evolves, we welcome the new additions to our passion and as I have typed here many times before, we encourage you to experience as many different places as you can!  We all have our own unique twists on how we prepare, season, smoke and serve our BBQ products.  We are proud to say that we’ve been doing BBQ Catering for a decade and that our BBQ has won many awards at Kansas City BBQ Society and other events!  I am proud as a Pitmaster and PBCChef to say that I’ve won national awards for my flavors and creativity, not to mention a commitment to sourcing locally from those who are the best at what they do.  BUT, I also know that we are only as good as our last service and we will never forget that!  Our menu continues to grow and our catering options extend beyond ‘traditional’ BBQ now to accommodate a wider range of tastes, but our core commitment to preparing every meal ‘to order’ and specifically for each event will never change!

Additionally, even as the number of BBQ ‘outlets’ in Central PA continues to grow, there Primo OVAL XL Grillremains a gaping hole for the home chef that is looking to learn how to cook BBQ on their own.  You can watch TV and resort to the internet to learn a LOT about how to ‘do Que’ but there’s no replacement for Experience and we have put ours to work by expanding into Retail sales of Primo Grills/Smokers, Myron Mixon Pellet Grills and Smokers and the affordable and versatile Pit Barrel Cooker along with a whole host of accessories!  We are even MM Q3offering an ongoing BBQ Class series that we will do int he Spring and Fall in the ‘off peak’ months of our Catering schedule to teach folks how to do everything from making your own signature spice blends and sauces to cooking whole hogs and even getting into the BBQ business!

As all of this expansion of services goes on, our focus will remain on service and quality and we want everyone to know that if you’re looking for a BBQ Smoker or Grill or the knowledge to know how to use them, we are indeed your ONE-STOP-BBQ-SHOP!  You can find out more about us online at: www.GreatQ4U.com or our Grills and Smokers at www.BuyAPrimo.com or feel free to call 717-254-1937 or stop by and see us during our off-season weekend hours which are always posted on our FaceBook Page!  We’re on Twitter too! – SO…when you think BBQ in Central PA, think about GreatQ4U! and we’ll do our best to help you out!

Want to Learn How to Do ‘Real Deal’ BBQ?

Well then, we can hook you up!  We’ve still got space in our early Spring and Summer BBQ Classes that will be taught at our shop in Mechanicsburg, PA and we would LOVE to have you!  After a somewhat rocky start with the cancellation of our January classes due to the first of several ‘Snowpocalypses’ and a sub zero cold snap that would have made teaching impractical if not unworthy of the investment, we have got things in gear now!

We are offering courses that range from Basic to Advanced, Whole Hog and even how to start and successfully operate your own BBQ Business either as a Part-Time or Full-Time venture.  Our cooking classes will not focus on how to cook ‘Competition BBQ’ although Chef is a 15+ year member of the Kansas City BBQ Society and a Certified BBQ Judge.  Our reason is that we sell Primo Grills and Smokers which are geared to the home cook AND there are far more folks who cook BBQ at home than to compete.  BUT…if you’re interested in learning how to compete on the ‘BBQ Circuit’, we’ve got LOTS of friends across the country that ARE teaching Competition classes and we can hook you up, just let us know when and where you’re available and we’ll look for a class that meets your needs.

Our Basic BBQ Class will cover everything that the home cook needs to know about cooking BBQ ‘Low & Slow’ over wood or coal.  What cuts to use, how to prepare them, equipment needs and considerations, making spice rubs and sauces and more.  Advanced BBQ will build on those blocks and further explore anatomy, butchery, preparation (including injections and cures), exploration of various time and temperature control devices and different types of smokers and more.  Whole Hog will cover how to source, prepare, season, cook and serve the whole hog at home.  We will cook three hogs total, two by different methods: Indirect smoking and Indirect, Top down roasting in an insulated cooking chamber.  The third hog will be butchered and students will have a chance to see and understand the anatomy and techniques to break down a hog then how to cook each component.

If you’re interested in starting a BBQ Business and can’t make it to the class, we can come to you as full service Hospitality Consultants.  If you’ve already got a business and need help with anything from food costs and profit margins to web site design and development or SEO…we can help you with that too!  We approach every consulting customer as an individual and don’t use any ‘cookie cutter’ solutions!  We listen carefully, watch operation and administration and offer objective advice that will help to improve your operation.

SO…for more info about our BBQ classes, visit our web page at: www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html or if you’d like more info about our Hospitality Consulting visit: http://www.greatq4u.com/Hospitality_Consulting.html OR if you’d just like to talk “Q”…you can call us: 717-254-1937 or E-Mail me: Jim@GreatQ4U.com

Monday = PROGRESS! Catering and Tailgating Schedules Filling Up!

By, Jim Knepper

So, with the addition of our Primo Grill/Smoker and BBQ Accessory retail Shop it’s been a busy ‘off season’ for us at GreatQ4U! and I am not complaining!  As I’ve typed on this Dimples Shrimplespage before, we have a LOT going on in addition to the retail shop!  We’ve got our Spring and Summer Catering schedules filling up fast and have been diligently working on new menu, buffet, display and service options.  We are cleaning and re-stocking and getting ready for the best year ever.  We have been working hard on getting the ‘BBQ Battlewagons’ (our two Antique Firetrucks) ready to roll for parties and BBQ Sauce sales at area Flea Markets in the Spring….you get the point!

On top of all that stuff, we have a jam packed schedule of BBQ Classes coming up in OBR Harrisburg 1013the ‘pre-season’ months that are really designed around the needs of our customers…home cooking!  We may add a few Competition oriented classes in the Spring and bring in some instructors who KNOW how to do Competition Que even better than us, but our true focus is on teaching folks how to get the most out of the smokers they have at home or buy from us!  Our Basic and Advanced BBQ Classes are full until April and those classes are beginning to fill up fast.  We have a Whole Hog class on April 5th that will be a BLAST and limited to 15 folks…again with an emphasis on the home BBQ enthusiast!  All of them can be found and registered for on our website: http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html

I am reiterating my earlier post for folks that may have already received an Estimate from us for a 2014 Event or have talked with us about catering their upcoming events; BOOK SOON!  We do begin to fill our schedules pretty fast this time of the year and weDSC_0128 cannot guarantee our availability without a signed Contract and Deposit!  Inevitably every year during the months ahead, I have awkward conversations with folks who have Estimates in hand and haven’t yet booked only to find out that we are no longer available on their dates…I don’t like having those conversations, but we will never compromise quality for quantity!

Speaking of quality, we are continuing to source as many of our ingredients as possible from local sources and can work with customers to source ALL of the products for your GQ4U!events locally if you choose to do so, but with the crazy fluctuations in pricing and the production of some incredible product in other areas, we are also sourcing from the best suppliers in other areas as well.  Yet another reason to book soon is that the cost of Beef and Pork specifically are going to skyrocket this year as well as the lingering drought in California’s impact on produce prices…this WILL lead to price increases!  We will absorb as much as we can, but in order to stay in business and committed to quality…I just know that we’ll have to do it and maybe more than once!  When you do Book with us, we lock in your pricing and will honor our agreed upon pricing no matter the increases!

What about the ‘BBQ Battlewagons’?  Well, we will be rolling out to several Regional BBQ Competitions with them this season, probably from Mid-Summer into early Fall and I’ll let you know when we choose the dates and locations.  We are also going to be Station QFULLY set for Fall Tailgating parties and those spots will book up FAST!  You can reserve your ‘Battlewagon’ for games in Philly, Pittsburgh, Baltimore or DC and let us provide an unforgettable experience with AWESOME food and fun!  Again…I’d suggest booking early as we’ve only got two trucks to go around and those dates will fill up fast!

SO…get out there and make this a great week!  If you’d like more info about ANY of the products or services that GreatQ4U!’s got to offer, please don’t hesitate to call or E-Mail me: 717-254-1937 Ext. 1 or Jim@GreatQ4U.com

Frigid Weather, Nasty Snow and BBQ Class Cancellations…

By, Jim Knepper

…These are the things that weigh HEAVY on my mind as we begin the first full work week of the New Year.  You see, this past weekend we had to cancel both our Basic and Advanced BBQ Classes that were the VERY FIRST classes we’ve EVER scheduled in January and by doing so we helped many attendees who lived in areas that were impacted by SERIOUS SNOW and WIND in the NorthEast, but also significantly inconvenienced a few others…and that is something that we TRY VERY HARD not to do!

Regular readers of my ramblings here on the Blog will know that in my ‘Previous Life’, I worked over three decades as a Paramedic (still Certified, in fact) and Procurement Transplant Coordinator.  Additionally, I learned to sail in my MUCH younger years and have always fancied myself a competent sailor from a time when it was done by hand and knowledge more than auto-pilot and computer.  In fact, I even served as adjunct faculty at Mass Maritime Academy teaching US Master Mariners how to be a ‘Medical Officer at Sea’ under Admiralty Law…one of the highlights of my life!  SO….in addition to having a KEEN awareness of the dangerous potential of Snow, Wind and Sub-Zero temps on travel of all types, I am a bit of a ‘weather geek’ and stay VERY ‘tuned in’ to upcoming weather patterns!

Come to think of it…even as a Pitmaster, it’s important to be aware of upcoming weather patterns and the effects that it will have on your smokers and cooking process.  So, I use multiple sources of information and spend hours (really) pouring over weather charts prior to ANY classes that we do because it’s a great topic for discussion among students at every level of BBQ expertise!  Having done so last weekend, it was VERY apparent to me that we would have SOME kind of snow event this past weekend along with a trough of historically cold temps!  With that information in hand along with the majority of class participants cancelling before New Year’s day as they were in the BULLSEYE for the snow…I made the call to cancel early in the week and notified all class participants.

Well, since then I have felt pretty badly about the consequences for the students that lived in closer proximity for us and have listened to their critiques of our decision carefully.  I DO understand that folks who work on weekends and re-arrange their schedules to attend classes have to make special arrangements to do so and it is one of the reasons that I cancelled at the beginning of the week and not the end.  Additionally, we’ve NEVER been OPEN for business in January previously, let alone scheduled classes…so it was a new adventure for us and perhaps I was a bit mis-guided in doing so I guess.  Lesson learned and those affected have either re-scheduled or been fully refunded with offers for Gift Cards and credits to acknowledge the inconvenience that my decision caused them.  This resulted in our February Basic and Advanced Classes filling up or getting close to full quickly, so if you’re interested in those classes…let me know and I’ll advise on space availability.

All of that brings me to THIS point regarding my decision to cancel.  It would be EASY to say that the weather here wasn’t a Blizzard or even VERY snowy at ALL…BUT it WAS indeed COLD, as in HISTORICALLY SUB-ZERO cold and THAT presents an ‘instructional challenge’ that I had not anticipated.  We work under the assumption that when teaching a class, we want to replicate as closely as possible the conditions under which our students will be cooking at home, in competition or at work.  Using this philosophy, I can say FOR SURE that in addition to the REAL challenges that minus ANYTHING temps cause for us when smoking meats, they clearly don’t represent the kind of weather that the average (or even most of the hard-core) BBQ enthusiasts will be cooking in and therefore, probably aren’t ideal teaching conditions…snow or no snow.

SO…while I stand by and accept FULL personal responsibility for my decision to cancel the classes, I REALLY regret the inconvenience that it caused those who were anxious to attend.  However would submit that learning to cook BBQ on ANY kind of cooker in Sub-Zero temps is probably NOT the best way for anyone to learn to do ‘Que’!  Once again, for those not able to attend who were looking forward to the class, I apologize and feel horrible.  For those who made the call to stay home a week out…WISE choice given the 12″+ of snow that y’all got.  For ME…LESSONS LEARNED!  I am pretty sure that you WON’T see us schedule classes in January EVER AGAIN!

Stay warm my friends…looks like it’s gonna’ be a VERY CHILLY week here in Central PA and across the country!

Welcome to 2014! Best Year YET at GreatQ4U!

By, Jim Knepper

Well…after this Snow and Sub-Zero weather moves off and we return to a ‘normal’ winter weather pattern, things are BOUND to improve!  Alas, we started the year with our FIRST ever BBQ Classes Scheduled in January (when we typically hibernate) having to be Re-Scheduled due to the freezing cold temps, snow and an uncertain prediction for Sunday.  I apologize to all who were inconvenienced by this decision, but I made it with both safety and optimal cooking in mind.  Lesson learned…NEVER schedule classes for ‘Farm Show’ week in PA!

Aside for the frigid start to the season, we have MUCH to look forward to this year!  We Meat Rakehave our NEW location in Mechanicsburg, which while not east to find, provides us with a PERFECT home to our Catering Operations, Primo Grill Shop and ‘BBQ Battlewagon’ Fire Trucks.  We are still working on making the space ‘ours’ and getting things ‘ship shape’ for ‘BBQ Season’ and look forward to MANY great things to come at ‘Station Q’.

Additionally, we are re-working our menus and adding substantially to our already significant list of ways to meet the needs of a diverse group of customers!  If you’re looking for ‘Real Deal’, Wood-Smoked BBQ…we still do it like we’ve always done!  GQ4U! Smoked Rainbow Trout‘Competition Quality’, Award Winning BBQ each and every time!  Sourced locally, prepped and cooked traditionally and brought to you hot off the smoker every time!  We are also able to accommodate the ‘Non-BBQ’ customers with a menu as broad as your imagination!  While we won’t promise the moon, we WILL promise to listen to your needs and if we can meet them, we’ll get you a written Estimate with no obligation on your end! (Although…if you’re planning a Spring or Summer 2014 event…BOOK SOON to save your spot!)

We are working hard on getting our “BBQ Battlewagons” all geared up and ready to Station Qprovide an AWESOME party experience.  We can roll into your party of 25-50 folks with a Fully Fun Featured Fire Truck that is decked out to set-up, cook, serve and entertain your guests!  Flat Screen TV’s, CO2 Dispensing system, Satellite TV, Gaming system, Tables, Chairs, Food and Fun…they have literally got it all!  O’h yeah…they can squirt water too!  If you’d like us to do a 5-Alarm Party for you…call soon to save your date! 717-254-1937.  Also, stay tuned for them to appear at BBQ Competitions all over the Mid-Atlantic from which we’ll be doing live updates on Social Media and Videos too!

As if THAT’s not enough, we have a full service Grill/Smoker shop featuring ALL American Made Primo Grills and Smokers with every accessory that you can imagine!  Primo OVAL XL GrillWe will help you choose the RIGHT grill for you and then teach you to use it so that you can take full advantage of the versatile and AWESOME Primo products!  Our goal is for EVERY customer to know and love their new grill/smoker and we’ve got the knowledge to make sure that you do!

SO…as we roll into this new year, we look forward to the BEST year yet…despite a snowy and cold start!  We thank EACH and EVERY one of our customers for helping us to make a living following our passion and promise to do our best to bring you all along for what promises to be a REALLY FUN RIDE! (In a Fire Truck, of course!) – Best wishes to you ALL for a Safe, Healthy and HAPPY New Year!  Visit us online at www.GreatQ4U.com

Those Who Know, Choose Primo!

OK, Okay…I know I have said MANY times that much like anything else, the BEST Grill or Smoker for YOU is one that you USE!  I continue to stand by that line and hope that you find yourself enjoying grilled and/or smoked foods as often as you like!  Each of these cooking techniques adds so much to the flavor profiles of ‘common’ meals and provides a visceral connection to our ancestors all the way back to the origins of fire!

THAT SAID…BUY A PRIMO CERAMIC GRILL!!!  Why you ask?  Well..because WE SELL THEM! 🙂  Yes…we are PROUD to be Central PA’s newest Primo Grill dealer and Primo Kamodo Grillwow can we help you choose the right model for your needs then learn how to use it!  In fact, I know folks who cook on their Primo’s just about EVERY night!  We have the knowledge and attentive experience to listen to your needs and then hook you up!

So…why buy a Primo?  Well, in addition to the fact that they are the ONLY Ceramic Grill/Smokers that are Made in the USA and their legendary 20 Year Warranty (How many gas grills would you go through in 20 years???) There are a number of compelling reason’s to add a Primo to your cooking capabilities:

  • The ability to cook a wide variety of foods including steaks, chicken, pork, turkey, fish, pizzas & vegetables that have an unbeatable taste!
  • You can grill and/or smoke while maintaining a consistent low temperature or high temperature and even take advantage of 2 heating zones!
  • Ceramics provide even heating across the entire surface of the grill!
  • Primo Grills are the highest quality grill and smoker made with our SuperCeramics and in our manufacturing facility overseen daily by our Founder and business leaders!

As if THAT’s not ENOUGH to get you to choose a Primo (primogrill.com), we are Primo OVAL XL Grilloffering an Introductory Special which offers a FREE BBQ CLASS of your choice during our January ‘BBQ Master Class’ series and $25 store credit for Accessories for ANY Primo Grill purchased before Christmas!  That’s up to $275 in direct bonus gifts for ALL Primo Grill purchases!  Look for our Black Grill, Black Friday Specials for ONE day only THIS FRIDAY!  (We WILL NOT be open on Thanksgiving because that is plain SILLY!)

So…as we continue to lead the charge for hand prepared, locally sourced Catering and incredible 5 Alarm Fire Truck Parties, we can give you the tools and knowledge to make meals like the one’s our catering customers have come to LOVE right in your own back yard!  For more info on our current special, give Jim a call at 717-254-1937 or e-mail him at: Jim@GreatQ4U.com

REMEMBER: Those Who KNOW Choose PRIMO!!!