Naperville isn't exactly known as the home of great barbecue, but Joe McManus brought his pellet smoker to Kansas City this month and walked away with the Grand Championship of the American Royal Barbecue Invitational.
"I absolutely love the Fast Eddy's by Cookshack cooker - it is a dream to use; you simply press a button and go. We all know it's a fantastic competition cooker. You get very consistent quality and there's never any question about how your product will turn out," McManus said in a press release, which the good folks at Cookshack were more than happy to post on their website.
You can also see Joey Macs with his trophy and oversized $12,500 check there. (And here is McManus and his Smoke Stax in downstate Chillicothe in July.)
This is McManus's fourth year in barbecue competition, according to his posts on the BBQ Forum Blog, where he describes the thrill of winning the Grand Championship last year in Clinton, Iowa.
"Sure it was a load I put on my own shoulders, the knowing I had pretty good food most of the time, and that eventually those 4th place finishes will turn into additional walks to the stage," he wrote. "That day on the Mississippi River was grand in all ways possible."
In Kansas City, the competition was tough. "TAmerican Royal rules require that each team win a qualifying state championship, signed by the governor of the state," organizers said in their press release. "The team must win the state championship by beating 25 other teams in a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned cook-off."
McManus's partner, Ed Maurin, said " When you are going head to head against those cooking in the invitational, you are cooking against the best of the best!"
Team Smoke Stax cooked the winning 'sque on a pellet fired smoker," organizers said in their press release. "Pellet smokers have been a trend among competitors for the last 5 years as more and more teams have won contests using the smokers. Of the 106 teams competing in the Royal invitational, 20 of them cooked on pellet smokers."
Pellet smokers are considered a green-friendly way to barbecue.
"Pellets are considered a green renewable fuel source as they are made of 100% wood food grade sawdust, which is compressed into the small pellets used in smoke-cooking. These clean burning pellets are carbon neutral, and add no more carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere than the trees they came from."
Finally, there is some classic Thanksgiving advice available from Joey Mac - in a post called Maximum Turkey Load,