Smokin’ Butt Crew

Kelly & Buddy Estes

The Smokin’ Butt Crew is based out of Birmingham, AL. Pitmasters Kelly and Buddy Estes started off cooking a couple of contests a year back in 2005 and currently cook about 8 competitions a year. So far, they’ve won 9 KCBS Grand Championships, 3 Reserve Grands, multiple 180 scores and countless Top 10 category finishes in their BBQ career. Smokin’ Butt Crew was fortunate to make it to the Sam’s Club Finals two times. The team has competed all over the U.S. from Nevada to Georgia. Kelly and Buddy love to compete and win but say the greatest prize of all is the friends they’ve made on the BBQ trail.

Sweet Cheek’s Pit BBQ

Morgan Cheek

Cooking up award-winning barbecue takes skills, practice, planning, and execution. For Sweet Cheeks Pit BBQ, it’s also about being competitive…setting goals and achieving them…even beating them. It’s a part of Morgan Cheek’s recipe for success.

Cheek started competing in backyard barbecue in 2016 after a friend suggested he give it a try. He started with a couple of competitions close to home. Then he caught the BBQ bug. So far, he’s racked up 11 Grand Champions and 5 Reserve Grand Champion wins.

Cheek also credits his success to setting goals. In 2019 he set a goal of winning more Grand Champions than before and he did that. He wanted to compete at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue and he did that. He wanted to win the Alabama Barbecue Association’s Backyard Team of the Year and he did that. Cheek also wanted to sweep a contest (win a first place in everything) and he achieved that twice this past year. One sweep was at Riverfest in Decatur, AL. The other was at Mission Q in Tuscumbia, AL, where he got 1st in chicken with a perfect score of 180, 1st in ribs with a 179.5 and won Backyard Grand Champion.

What does a backyard team do when they’ve achieved their goals? They go pro. Sweet Cheeks will be making the switch from a Backyard team to Pro in 2020. With that change, he’ll be taking on the challenge of cooking two additional meats, pork butt and brisket, and taking on some pretty tough competition.

Smoke Me Silly

Lex Vanegas & Robert Vanderipe

Smoke Me Silly BBQ team is based out of Madison, AL.  The team consists of husband and wife, Robert Vanderipe and Lex Vanegas, and, occasionally, family and friends help out too.  Robert and Lex have been competing in KCBS competitions since March 2012.  They have competed in about 200 contests in multiple states including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Representing the United States in 2015, Smoke Me Silly competed at the World BBQ Association Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden, finishing 14th overall.  Since the start, Smoke Me Silly has won 32 Grand Championships and 34 Reserve Grand Champions earning multiple first places in all categories. The most memorable 1st place was the Pork Rib category win at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational in 2014. Smoke Me Silly has been listed in the top 25 teams in KCBS for the past 5 years, obtained 37 700+ overall scores, earned 29 180’s (perfect scores) in all categories, and, has been the Grand Champion/Team of the Year in the Alabama BBQ Association for the past four years.

Grand Champion – Smokin’ in the Square, Pensacola, FL 2018
Grand Champion – Eight Annual Bull Moose, Somerville, TN 2018
Reserve Grand Champion – Smoke on the Falls, Gadsden, AL 2018
Reserve Grand Champion – BBQ Boogie & Blues, Calhoun, GA 2018
Grand Champion – The WhistleStop Festival & Rocket City BBQ, Huntsville, AL 2018
Reserve Grand Champion – Delta Smoke BBQ Contest, Wynne, AR 2018
Reserve Grand Champion – Desoto Shrine Club BBQ Cook-Off, Hernando, MS 2018
Grand Champion – Cumberland Plateau BBQ Cook-Off & Cruise In, Jamestown Day 1, TN 2018
Reserve Grand Champion – Cumberland Plateau BBQ Cook-Off & Cruise In Day 2, Jamestown, TN 2018
Grand Champion – BBQ-Fest Cooking Contest, Dyersburg, TN 2018
Grand Champion – Cotton Pickin’ BBQ Cook-Off, Hartselle, AL 2018

Jiggy Piggy

Steve Blake & Bob Fite

Our first cookoff together as Jiggy Piggy was around 2002 at Lawrenceburg, TN. We got our name called out a few times and we were hooked. Actually we were hooked long before that. Bob and I really enjoy cooking and competing…and eating. Bob enjoyed grilling at home and loved tail-gating at Auburn football games. We both went to judge’s school in 1996. The class was taught by national BBQ icon Ed Roith. I judged all of the contests I could get to in Alabama and Tennessee for two or three years.  We also had separate teams of friends that competed against each other for about 10 years at Riverfest in Decatur, AL. In 2006 we cooked together as Jiggy Piggy and won the Grand Championship!

God and family are very important to both of us. We are both active in our churches and community. We both have been married to our wives for more than 30 years. Our kids – I have 2 and Bob has 3 – are young adults now. Bob and Sherry have a couple of beautiful granddaughters. Claudia and I are not that OLD yet!!! HA! When not on the BBQ trail, Bob also enjoys golf and I like working in my yard. Back when we were cruising the BBQ circuit in a 1985 motorhome and finishing in 30th or 40th place our wives didn’t go with us very often. But thankfully things have changed and we love to have our family and friends come support us. Claudia and Sherry are a huge help to us. Bob is “sorta semi-retired” from Fite Building Company but he still shows up most days. I work for Bank Independent, a community bank with branches in northwest Alabama.

We have really been blessed. We’ve won 26 Grand Championships over the past 12 years and more than a dozen Reserve Grand Championships. At the American Royal Invitational in Kansas City we were Reserve Grand Champs in 2007 and took 1st place in chicken in 2008 and 1st place ribs in 2010. We‘ve won the Highway 64 Crown in Tennessee and the 2007 and 2009 Alabama Governor’s Cup. We’ve won Decatur’s Riverfest 5 times. But we wouldn’t compete at all if we didn’t have fun and meet all these nice people we enjoy hanging out with for the weekend. We plan to keep it up as long as we both have fun. And believe me, it’s more fun leaving a contest with a trophy and a check!

The Specialists

Chester Lewis

I love to compete! From battling it out on the football field to cooking it out over a hot BBQ pit, competition runs through my veins. I played football at The University of Alabama from 1992 to 1996, earning three Varsity letters during my time at the Capstone. I was a deep snapper and a tight end for the Crimson Tide and earned all SEC Honors in 1996. My burning desire to compete and win, along with a passion for cooking, lead me to professional competition barbecue. I’m a solo cook and my team, The Specialists, from Mountain Brook, AL, was the number two team in the country in the Kansas City Barbecue Society in 2015 for teams competing in fifteen events or less. The Specialists scored in a short period of time on the Alabama BBQ circuit, earning five Grand Championships the last three years and six Reserve Grand Championships along with a host of perfect 180 Category scores. I smoked the competition in the Governor’s Cup BBQ points chase in Alabama the last three years finishing as Reserve Grand Champions in 2015 and 2016. My proudest achievement so far for this four-year pro is a draw selection to participate in The Jack Daniels World Championship in 2016 and coming in at eighth overall. Another proud moment is finishing ninth overall at The Jack in 2015 out of ninety-five teams from all over the world. I am the current President of the Alabama BBQ Association. My goal is to educate and grow the great sport of BBQ in Alabama. Roll Tide!

Bush League

Tony Mancuso

I love cooking and competing! The drive to succeed is deep in my soul…from my early days in sales at IBM to building and selling several companies.  My newest challenge is cooking barbecue with the Alabama Barbecue Association.  I’m a solo cook team based out of Madison, AL.  Some days I have friends and family who help me and somedays I go it alone. I started KCBS competitions in 2014 as assistant on the Bush League Team and now I’m the lead cook.  I have competed in more than 45 competitions, winning 2 Reserve Grand Champions and many top ten finishes and perfect 180 scores.  I’m still chasing that Grand Championship win, but I know it will come.  I wouldn’t compete at all if it wasn’t for the “BBQ family” I’ve established. It’s an honor and a privilege to spend a weekend cooking and enjoying their company.

The Pit Crew GA

Tina & Bobby Cannon

The Pit Crew, Ga. lead by Tina Cannon (Pitmaster) started in 2009 entering various Backyard Competitions around Georgia and after 3 years we decided to go Pro. In 2013 we won our first KCBS Grand Championship at a Sam’s Club event in Daphne, Alabama. In 2014 we won a 2nd Grand Championship in the Florida BBQ Association at the BBQ and Blues event in Barnesville, Ga. In that same year Tina also was a contestant on the Travel Channels “American Grilled” show filmed in Savannah, Georgia. Tina has great grilling skills and was able to beat out three other contestants for the win and a nice price package worth over $10,000! 2015 was a breakout year for The Pit Crew, Ga. winning four Grand Championships and a Reserve Grand Championship at the Sam’s Club in Marietta, Georgia qualifying us for our second Regional Sam’s Club event. The Pit Crew, Ga. also won the 2015 Georgia BBQ Championship (GBC) and Tina was the first female Pitmaster to win this title. Our biggest wins that year were the Dillard Blue Grass Festival and the Dual Contest in Rome Georgia at the Wings Over North Georgia Contest. We were 4th on Saturday and First on Sunday and accumulated best overall score for both events. At years end The Pit Crew, GA. was #1 in Ribs, 5th in Brisket and #1 Overall cooking in 15 KCBS contest or less. This year we were blessed enough to win 2 Grand Championships. The first GC was at the Blount County BBQ Bash in Maryville, Tn. and the second one was in Dothan, Alabama at this years Porktober Que. We also had a Reserve Championship in Calhoun, Ga. at The BBQ Boogie & Blues contest along with several top five and top 10 awards. Tina was also the Reserve Grand Champion at the Fire & Ice Contest for women Pitmasters and Grillers at this years (2017) World Food Championships.

Bees Knees

Brent Bourland & Jeff Cole

Brent Bourland(right) and Jeff Cole (the other one) are from Huntsville, AL and they make up the award-winning Bees Knees BBQ Team. They’ve been cooking professional BBQ for 3 years.

Both have a love for cooking and eating barbecue as you can tell by their picture. When their plus size modeling career fizzled out they had to find somewhere they would fit in and the Alabama BBQ trail was just the place.

The Bees Knees BBQ Team is looking forward to filling up your whole TV screen with great barbecue and hopefully some laughs.

Fat, Drunk and Stupid

Laddy Ratliff, Ron Stephens, & James Evans

The Fat, Drunk and Stupid Competition BBQ Team is based in Huntsville, Alabama.
Team members Laddy Ratliff, Ron Stephens, and James Evans are lifelong friends and began cooking BBQ professionally in 2006.  They cook about 12 professional BBQ competitions per year in the southeast in the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and their home state of Alabama.  The team has won both Grand and Reserve Grand Championships.  They consistently cook award winning entries having received numerous first place category calls.  The team has received nine (9) different perfect 180 scores including a “perfect perfect” 180 score in ribs and they are a three (3) time member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society 700 Club that recognizes teams that cook a cumulative score of over 700 at a contest.  When it comes to our team name, we’re always asked, “which one is which”?  Our answer: We’re all a little bit of each!

Deep South Sauce Company

Billy Strickland & Bruce Johnson

For over 30 years we have been working, playing and cooking together. In 2015, Billy decided to take his popular BBQ sauces to the next level and created Deep South Sauce Company, LLC. Deep South Sauce Company, LLC embodies all the rich and fulfilling flavors found in Southern foods, specializing in BBQ Sauces and Rubs. We believe that good food not only makes you happy, but brings families together. We have used our skills to provide great meals from 10 to 2,000 people. Through local events and on-line sales Deep South Sauce Company has grown its following and our passion for BBQ, food, family, fellowship and fun has grown as well. With our sponsorship of Bama-Q in season 3, we got to really know the Bama-Q teams and the food competition culture. Before the end of Season 3, we decided we really wanted to be a larger part of the Bama-Q family and move from sponsor to also become one of the competitive teams as well. To get started competing, we became certified KCBS judges, took several BBQ classes and paid attention as our Bama-Q family provided tidbits of information on how to be competitive in some of the fiercest food competitions.

While juggling full-time jobs in the IT Service provider space for collaboration technology solutions for large and medium enterprises, running Deep South Sauce Company, LLC and competing in KCBS competitions we find time to spend with our families and helping our community. Billy is married with two grown adults and has grandchildren. Bruce is married with two young adults in college. They live outside Atlanta, GA where both grew up and have lived most all their lives.

We travel and cook out of a large 5th wheel RV and use a custom Lone Star Grillz. We love the off-set stick burners! If you see us on the road, feel free to say hello and we are happy to sell you some of our bold and flavorful sauces and rubs.