Last night, one of the new BBQ team’s board members texted me and gave me permission to share details of this year’s team. So here you go… the new team will be called the Moody Ques. It will be comprised mostly of people who were on other teams 2007-11, some even longer than that.
I mentioned yesterday that we had scored a major catch as our pitmaster, “a name you should know.” Now I can reveal that name – none other than Demitrie Phillips, formerly the chef at Stella and Bardog. He’s going to be the chef at Double J Saloon which will open soon in the South Main District. Owners Jeff Stamm and John Harris have brought Double J on board as a sponsor, and we are thrilled to have them. Demitrie has previous pitmaster experience, and will handle the championship meat. Lauren from my team’s cookteam last year will be back to handle the daily cooking.
WordPress is back as our sponsor. If you aren’t familiar with what WordPress does, you’re looking at it right now. WordPress is the content management system that powers this blog and tens of millions of other websites. Corporate users include the New York Times, GM, SONY, CNN, Forbes, and millions more. Company head honcho Matt Mullenweg is a huge BBQ fan, and he and his staff will be joining us in the booth. We are fortunate to have them and couldn’t ask for a better corporate sponsor.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you may remember our 2009 and 2010 booths. They placed in the Best Booth competition both years, with an elaborately decorated exterior featuring the Memphis in May honored country. Inside, they looked more like a South Beach nightclub than a BBQ tent. They were designed by Brent Long of Holliday Flowers here in Memphis. Brent is back with us this year as Chief Design Officer. He has extensive design and event planning experience, and from what I hear he really plans to blow it all out and make our booth the one that everybody at BBQ Fest is talking about. This year he has 100% creative control – no micromanagement by the Board.
If you’ve been on a BBQ team, you know that Thursday and Friday nights are stressful. The park is flooded with people who don’t know anyone on teams, but try to get in booths anyway to mooch food, beer, and liquor. As a result, in past years we had members volunteer for security detail at the door those nights. I avoided security as much as I could, but there were a couple of shifts when no one else could do it. Here’s a typical scenario:
A guy who I’ve never seen before walks up to the front door. “Hey, Bob said I could come in.”
“Bob? You mean Bob Siler, the architect?”
“Yeah! That’s him! Bob!”
“I just made that name up. Get out.”
We often got cussed out, and in a couple of cases, fights almost broke out. That won’t happen this year. We’re getting off-duty MPD officers to work the door Thursday and Friday night. Someone wants to get out of line at the door this year? Go ahead, you might get a ride to 201.
Another stressful situation was the bar. We learned the first year we couldn’t just put the beer and liquor out on a help-yourself basis. So team members had to volunteer for bar shifts, sometimes missing the best hours of the festival. That won’t be a problem this year either. We’re getting professional bartenders to work the busy times, so all team members will be able to enjoy themselves.
In a couple of previous years, our old team’s membership numbers got inflated into the 70s. That caused there to be so many people in the booth (members and guests) that people had trouble having a good time. We also had people join each year (especially last year) who hardly anyone on the team knew. The new team will operate on an invite-only policy. As I said yesterday, I saw the list and thought, “these are exactly the people I want to be on a BBQ team with.” No hangers-on, no people who bring nothing to the table other than taking up space.
Another issue BBQ teams have is managing money. You need ice, the cart comes by, and whoever has money pulls it out and pays. It’s very easy to get member money co-mingled with team money, and as a result it can be very hard to track where team money is going. We have a Chief Financial Officer this year, one of the sharpest corporate accountants I know. He will keep the books balanced down to the penny. Team members and sponsors will be able to see the books at any time, and get a detailed spreadsheet that completely spells out where their money is being spent.
If you got an invite yesterday and are deciding whether to join, know this: We are not half-assing it this year. We are in it to win: We want a championship trophy for our pork. And we want to win in people’s minds as the best team with the best booth in the entire festival.
Massive kudos and respect to the five members of our board for the job they have done planning. This year is going to be incredible.
View a photo gallery of our team’s members and friends at previous BBQ Fests here.