We flew Meet the Master competition winner Chad Griffin to Richmond, Virginia to meet BBQ legend Tuffy Stone. He and his wife Bec reflect on what it’s like to learn from their food hero.
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In the end, they placed equal eighth in the brisket category, tying on points with Smoking Coals BBQ.
But then, it’s still about the journey, not the result, for Meet the Master winner Chad Griffin and his wife Bec.
Six weeks after RedZed sent the pair to Virginia, they were busy putting lessons learned to the test at Meatstock, one of Australia’s biggest BBQ competitions.
“I’ve learnt so much. I’m really, really looking forward to utilising these skills and information to implement into my business,” Chad says.
A successful sit-down
So, what was it like for Chad to meet Tuffy Stone, a legend in the world of American BBQ? Did the pitmaster live up to inspiring expectations?
Did he dish out practical advice that will help Chad’s Stoke and Smoke BBQ move from weekend project to full-time endeavor?
A classically-trained chef and TV personality, Stone runs a catering company, a cooking school, five restaurants and a competitive BBQ team.
If you’re into American BBQ, getting the chance to meet this iconic pitmaster is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
It’s like the founder of a tech start-up getting facetime with Tesla’s Elon Musk, or an aspiring AFL player getting an individual coaching session with Dustin Martin.
“Everyone in the BBQ world knows who [he] is,” Chad says of the man he traveled to the US to meet. “You don’t get any better than him.”
And Chad was wracked with nerves before meeting his hero. “You’re filled with so much emotion,” he recalls. “You don’t know how to approach these people, you’ve been following them, you think of them as much better than you. It’s like meeting a big celebrity that you’re a big fan of.”
“Tuffy was just so humble and welcoming. By the end of it, it was just like talking to a mate,” Chad says. “He’s a really cool guy and down to earth and happy to share his knowledge. It was nice to step into his domain.”
New tricks of the trade
At Meatstock, Chad’s wife Bec came armed with a few tricks of the trade Tuffy taught the couple.
“I’ve still got a notebook full of notes: ‘What does Tuffy do with business?’, ‘What are the good business decisions he’s made?’, ‘What are the main things he told us to keep an eye out on?’ she says.
As they work towards their dreams of turning their weekend catering and cooking into a full-time enterprise, Chad remains grateful for the chance to take a trip to the US and learn from masters of the craft.
“It’s been an unbelievable opportunity for my wife and I… an unbelievable experience,” he says.
The lessons of meeting Tuffy apply beyond the BBQ world. When asked to share what he thinks others could learn from his experience, Chad doesn’t hesitate in responding. “Take time, be patient, hard work does pay off,” he says. “That, and make sure you’ve got your capital to get up and running. If you’re not sure, you probably don’t have it.”
“There’s always bigger and better than you,” Chad says. “It’s tough starting out small and you really, really need to work to compete with the other businesses around you. Starting off small isn’t easy. You’re always on the back foot.”
And for anyone following at home, an eighth-place finish at Meatstock saw Chad and Bec sitting 11th on points in Australia’s competitive BBQ league.
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