Robert “BBQ Bob” Trudnak
It started in early childhood in a home where he was the eldest of four children. His mother was a homemaker, and his father worked up to three jobs to support the family. Most Sundays were spent barbecuing at the local state park near their home in the hills of Clarks Summit, PA (pop. 5,100). Sundays were his father’s lone day off, and he would spend it grilling and barbecuing in the park’s charcoal grills. Trudnak says the witness of his father’s selfless sacrifice taught him “how important selfless contribution is to a family’s well-being.”
When BBQ Bob was seven, his dad placed him “in charge” of putting charcoal in the grill.
He says, “From that day forward, I was hooked on barbecue.”
Truly a barbecue lover, no matter the time of year, temperature or weather, as long as he has meat and dry charcoal, you will find BBQ Bob cooking outdoors.
Over the years, he grew to love all cooking and has tirelessly worked to perfect the craft of making delicious food. As a result, he has amassed over 200 awards, plus numerous trophies and titles, cash, and prizes at national and international competitions.
Being a Professional BBQ cook is such a passion, he wants to share the joys of barbequing with others. You can often find him teaching cooking classes throughout the United States and Europe, helping others sharpen their skills and giving special tips and tricks.
“I teach partly because I enjoy teaching,” he says, “but most of all, I love teaching people how to cook. I try to explain cooking and make it simple, because it really can be. Anyone can do it. I’ve seen people create great dishes who never thought they could.”
For Trudnak, barbecuing is more than just firing up the smoker. Most of all, he truly believes barbecue is about community, and bringing family and friends together.
Turning a hobby and passion into a profession
About two years later, Pirkle mentioned a side project related to the barbeque industry. Bob’s heart started pounding as he listened to his boss describe plans for an electronic device that would make controlling an outdoor BBQ cooker’s temperature easy and efficient.
In 1999, the late entrepreneur and barbeque enthusiast “Shotgun” Fred Pirkle needed a marketing and design expert for his industrial valve business and hired Trudnak for the position.
The thought of bringing the world’s first BBQ temperature-control device for charcoal and wood-burning cookers to market—and forming a new company called BBQ Guru to launch the product—excited Bob.
Working together, they produced the Pit Minder mechanical temperature control. This control gave smokers and grills oven-like precision over a cooker’s heat. It made barbequing easier, more convenient, and fun.
Through the years Bob helped evolve that one product into an entire line of high-tech cooker accessories made by BBQ Guru, which is headquartered in Warminster, PA. These include the top-selling PartyQ, DigiQ, and CyberQ, all of which the majority of America’s award-winning BBQ competition teams use.
Because of his leadership in the invention of these revolutionary products, Bob soon earned the nickname “the time and temperature guru”.
Trudnak is also the creator of a line of award-winning sauces and rubs. These came out of his childhood-instilled love of foods that are homemade. He says his mother and grandmother only used fresh ingredients, “pasta, meatballs, sauce, and fresh vegetables from the garden. We never ate anything that wasn’t made from scratch and not without a whole lotta love.”
Bob also uses the sauces and rubs in his catering business, Hav’N a BBQ, which he runs on the side with his wife. The two live in the Philadelphia area with their daughter and son.
BBQ Bob’s competition victories and titles include:
- Reserve Grand Champion – Jack Daniel’s World Championship
- 2nd Place Ribs American Royal Open
- Ribs World Food Championship – Las Vegas
- Reserve Grand Champion Smoke on the Water – Atlantic City
- Reserve Grand Champion Red White and Que
- Many Grand Championships in PA, MD, VA