Mark Gibbs of Checkered Flag 500 BBQ Shares His Tricks of the Trade to a Full Class of Eager Students

by Brian Walrath, MABA Board Member and Pitmaster for Brown Liquor BBQ

Checkered Flag 500 BBQ has been on a tear lately.  Pitmaster Mark Gibbs, along with his wife Sharon and lovable hound Sterling, are on a grand championship tear, earning them an automatic spot in this year’s prestigious Jack Daniel’s World Championship in Lynchburg, Tennessee in October.  Mark had a gap in his busy schedule and decided it was time to offer a true tell-all competition class, teaching EXACTLY what he does to win and win often in the Mid-Atlantic.

Twenty-three students, all competition cooks from as far away as North Carolina, were in attendance.  And the quality of cooks in attendance was strong…many with grand championships of their own.  Most of us knew each other well, and that made for a really fun time, catching up and learning in an environment free of the stress and busy schedule of a competition weekend.


Mark began stating he was nervous, never having taught a cooking class before, but he dove right in like a seasoned pro and held the attention of the room for the entire night.  On this first day of the class, Mark would teach us how he trims, selects, and pre-seasons his meats.  About four hours of instruction and lots of great interaction from Mark and the students ensued and seemed to go very quickly.  The class was then treated to an awesome dinner highlighted with Mark’s secret recipe of crab cakes accompanied with delicious ribeye steaks!  Big thanks to Dan McGrath, owner of Galvinell Meat Company for providing and cooking a great meal.  Also, big thanks to John Layton for cooking as well and being Mark’s right hand man the entire weekend.

Saturday morning came and Mark ran this day on a KCBS schedule, modified two hours since his normal timeline starts super early.  After a tasty breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits, everything came together splendidly and again, Mark’s instruction and techniques were great and held the classes attention close!  Turn-ins were actually right on time and the food was fantastic.  As a judge too, I can see why Mark has had so much success.  And true to his word, Mark held nothing back…every little trick and twist was given.

I left the class inspired and eager to try several things I learned.  I know everyone else too was quite happy with their investment.  If you’re thinking about taking a class, you can’t go wrong with attending Mark’s next class!