Interview With the Champs – Dave Pavone of Pavone Brothers BBQ
by Brian Walrath, MABA Board Member and Pitmaster for Brown Liquor BBQ
A handful of years ago, when I was new to this competition barbecue thing, my wife’s school was undergoing a renovation. She noticed the name, V.F. Pavone General Contracting and saw a sticker on one of the trucks that said, “Pavone Brothers BBQ Competiton team.” Being the social butterfly that she is, she inquired about the barbecue team and asked if they knew her husband and his team of misfits. Shortly after this meeting, I was in Frederick, MD at the now defunct Swinetastic competition (man, I miss that competition…it was a good one!). Remembering this conversation between my wife and the construction crew, I saw a kick ass looking porch trailer and a nice fellow hanging out sipping his coffee. This is when I met Dave Pavone and he gave me a tour of his trailer that day and we started a friendship that has carried through over the years!
Dave has been on a heater lately and peaking at the right time. He hit the jackpot in Smithfield, VA at the Smithfield BBQ Classic among some of the best teams, not only in MABA-land, but the nation! Big Poppa Sterling Ball was in attendance and awarded a free entry into the King of the Smoker event in California later this year! Dave agreed to answer a few questions for the newsletter. Congrats Uncle Dave and keep kicking butt!
Congrats on winning the in Smithfield. Describe winning that contest?
Dave Pavone, Pavone Brothers BBQ:
We did not think we won it. We heard all the calls, there were many teams with multiple calls. I get nervous at awards…not as bad as turn in but damn close. Not sure why because I know it’s history after the last turn in, you just do not know what calls you may get. We shoot for a top 10 place at every comp. guess we did ok.
I got to tell you it’s a rush bigger than all others.
This contest win included a trip to compete in California at Sterling “Big Poppa Smoker” Ball’s King of the Smoker. Will you be heading out west?
YES. When that was put on the table, I told Mike my cook partner that we wanted that. And we went after it. That one prize to me is huge. KOS is a comp I would never be able to cook, it’s a comp that I have always wanted to go to.
By all means my team and I will be at KOS. I am honored to be able to cook with that caliber of pitmasters, no matter where I fall in the outcome.
Did you feel like you had an especially good cook worthy of winning?
We knew we had a good cook. We knew we have been haunted by chicken in the second half of the year, so we took extra time with the others and tweaked the chicken. Still no chicken call…still working on it
Let’s talk about Pavone Brothers BBQ…tell us where your from, about your team name, your team, and your competition set up.
Pavone Brothers BBQ started in Bristow, Va. And was supposed to be all the brothers together so the name worked. Well plans change.
My Brother Vince cooked with me for the first couple of years, then he pulled out to retire into a restaurant…yeah I know I know, so does he now LOL! My little brother Roy was around for morale support and Brother Rick was the judge of taste.
All good things evolve and now my team is Jayne Pavone, my wife and box runner, when she is here.
Shelby, my Granddaughter and bell ringer for the runner. And the guy that made this year different, Mike Rollins. Mike wanted to learn to cook Competition BBQ and I needed someone to help. Help he has. Mainly keeping me from changing items that already works…yes at box time. I am super bad about that. Just a let’s do this LOL.
My set up has really change since the start. We started in pickup trucks with a Char Grill and ugly drum smokers, then we went to a landscape trailer and two Backwoods, then a porch trailer, then a Class C RV with a Jambo (best cooker out there), and as of this year, a Class A Newmar toy hauler with a Jambo behind it. Who knows, maybe an enclosed is next in the line of changes.
Those of you that know me know I love my toys.
How long have you been competing?
Pavone Brothers started competing in 2009 with our first comp Que and Cruz, and a call in our second comp in Front Royal sealed my addiction to competition BBQ.
What’s the best part about competition barbecue?
Friends Family and Fun
What’s the worst part about competition barbecue?
The only thing I can think of is I do not like the politics. Mainly because I say what I think and I am told I’m kind of blunt. But that’s just how I am.
Ok, I always ask our winning pitmasters this…what’s the one tip you have for those teams to help them break through and win their first GC or up their game in competition BBQ?
First HAVE FUN!!!
Second have more fun!!! Stay with your plan do not change your path at the last minute (I am still learning, thanks Mike, not that Dan Hixon hasn’t said that for 5 years or better)! Cook from your heart and put it in the box, the judges will notice. Practice a lot. I cook every weekend. Sometimes just chicken sometimes a whole comp. keep practicing.
What’s in store for the rest of the year for Pavone Brothers?
Some of our favorite comps are coming up:
Sep 9 Recovery Fest in Richmond, VA
Sep 22 Lemoyne, PA
Oct 6 Que N Cruz Louisa, VA
Oct 13 Woodstock, VA
Oct 20 Boo Que (they took the B out no more BOO B)
Boo Que will be Mike’s first whole cook I am watching and supporting him in this, time to see If I tought him well!!
What makes Pavone Brothers BBQ special?
It’s all about family, friends, and fun
Anything else to add before we sign off?
I like to help other teams trying to get started. I have cooked and learned from many pitmasters. John Atkins was the first to help me. Then my two mentors Dan Hixon and Tuffy Stone, everybody needs someone they can call and ask questions. And I keep learning.
New teams and young teams should ask questions. People will answer them, we like to share.