President’s Message

Fall is in the air and we are heading into the homestretch of the 2021 season. We have bounced back from 2020 and enjoyed a busy year. Contests are already landing on the books for 2022.

I want to extend my thanks to everyone who responded to our recent Membership Survey. The Board of Directors appreciates your feedback, and we are already incorporating your suggestions.

Elections are coming up and we encourage everyone to consider running for a seat on the Board of Directors. If you have a passion for fun and want to see MABA succeed, please consider running for the Board. We also have plenty of room on our committees for anyone who wants to get involved and learn more about MABA.

Please feel free to contact me at with any questions or concerns. I welcome all feedback from our membership. Be well and we hope to see you at a contest soon!

MABA President, Lisa Dommes


MABA Business Member Highlights!

Smoke’n Dudes BBQ Co. is a BBQ Caterer & Supply Store in Bucks County, PA. So sit back, relax and let us be the BBQ catering company you’ve only dreamed of. If you are looking for anything related to barbecue DIY look no further than our BBQ supply store.


Linvilla Orchards is a great source for a large variety of woods used for cooking food. This wood is used in barbecue smokers, grills and a range of solid fuel cooking systems that have become increasingly popular in the restaurant trade. Chefs that cook over wood know that using different varieties of wood for smoking or grilling imparts meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables with distinctive and mouthwatering aromas.


Yet Another Team Earns First GC in Mid Atlantic!

By Chris Schriver

After seeing three teams earlier in the year win their first GC, the Mid-Atlantic region is on a roll with a fourth team earning their first grand championship!

On August 29th at the Dirty Boots BBQ & Meat Contest – Day 2, we saw Pitmaster Greg Boggs and lovely kale boxing teammate, Karryl Boggs of Boggs Hog BBQ walk away with top honors against a stacked field! If you don’t think those perfectly made kale boxes didn’t have something to do with their first GC, ya’ll better think again! Great job Karryl!

We reached out to Greg and Karryl to reflect back on what it took to get that first GC. Greg advised that when he started competing in 2018, he learned quickly that he needed to learn from the best in the region. “I have taken several classes over the years,” he stated. He went on to point out that it ended up taking about 40 contests before they won their first GC. They had a couple of close calls along the way but nothing ever better than 3rd overall. That was until the weekend of the Dirty Boots contest. Greg finished by saying, “it was a great feeling to finally achieve one of our goals in competition bbq.”

Congratulations again Greg and Karryl!


New York MABA Cup Winner

With summer winding down and fall upon us, one more MABA State Cup is in the books with one left to go!

The sixth MABA State Cup contest of the 2021 season took place at the I Love BBQ & Music Festival in Lake Placid, NY over the Labor Day weekend where Pitmaster Daniel Jacobellis and his brother, James of Top Gun Barbecue team were crowned the New York MABA State Cup Champion!

A huge congrats to Top Gun Barbecue and all NY teams that competed!

Next up is the North Carolina State Cup Championship in Currituck, NC on November 6th. Good luck to all MABA North Carolina teams!


Interview with Chris Lemon from Lem’s Meat Varnish

By Ron Calloway

Ron Calloway – Can you tell me how Lem’s Meat Varnish came to be?

“I’ve always had a passion for grilling food. I was working at a car lot and was playing around with making sauces. I would make my buddy this special gold sauce every Thanksgiving and he would put it on his turkey before he deep fried it. It was the fall of 2011 when I really started making, testing, and trying to prefect the mild BBQ sauce. Back then I thought it was just a waste of time, so I gave up for five months. The more I thought about it I told myself why give up on something you love to do? I jumped back in with both feet and in 2013 I thought I perfected the sauce. I then started whipping up several small batches of the sauce to ship to friends and family. I got good feedback, but everyone started asking for a spicy sauce. I took my mild sauce and tripled the amount of heat in it, and it was a hit!”

Ron Calloway – What were some of your first successes?

“Very quickly people started requesting 5-6 jars and even cases of my sauces. I was extremely surprised by all this attention. In fact, the local Kroger store manager contacted me directly because he wanted to sell it in his store. Talk about an even bigger surprise! I reached out to Blue Smoke Salsa about making a batch for me, and John Yates was kind enough to provide me guidance on the different things I needed. At this point I didn’t have a business license or even a name for my sauces! It took me about 3 months to get all my ducks in a row, but I did finally get back to John at Blue Smoke Salsa. In fact, I called John every other week to report my progress and talk about my sauces.”

Ron Calloway – Lem’s Meat Varnish is a very cool name, how did you come up with it?

“Since I didn’t have a name for my sauces, I posted a request on Facebook asking for recommendations. I literally got hundreds of suggestions and lo and behold my buddy Jason Metzger suggested Lem’s Meat Varnish! I loved that name and decided to stick with it. I contacted a labeling company and next thing you know I was ready to go back to Blue Smoke Salsa to get my sauce made commercially. It took about a week to get set up with them and I remember being so excited that I could hardly sleep at night! I packed everything I needed into my 2001 Oldsmobile and headed to meet up with John at Blue Smoke Salsa. I even got there an hour before they opened. On that day in April 2014 Lem’s Meat Varnish was born. “

Ron Calloway – What were some of your early struggles?

“I worked my tail off getting my sauces into any and every store I could and drove countless miles. I am fortunate to now sell LMV in many Kroger stores in the WV and VA area as well as other great retail stores including Famers Meats and Deli Winfield, West Virginia, Food Fair, Milton and Hill Top Meats in Ripley, West Virginia.”

Ron Calloway – What’s next on the horizon for Lem’s Meat Varnish?

“I have since developed a southern gold sauce to go with the spicy and regular versions and am happy to report I now ship to 42 states. One of the things I like most about Lem’s Meat Varnish is that I work for myself. I make all the key decisions and like to have the control over my future and business. I have also launched my new website to allow online ordering.”

Ron Calloway – Tell me about your competition barbecue team…

“I started competing in KCBS Competitions and with the success of my sauces I’ve translated that into success for Lem’s Meat Varnish BBQ Team! In 2020 I finished third in the country in the chicken category for KCBS and finished fourth in the country in the rib category. I was fortunate to compete in the KCBS World Invitational BBQ Competition in November 2020 where I finished in fourth place! I was very humbled to compete so well against the best pit masters in the country. I am a living example of never giving up, trust your instincts and working hard. My advice is to never give up on your dreams!”


Coach’s Corner – Pitmaster Tips

By Steve Dotson

When is it time to use heritage breed or specialty meats? The short answer is if you’ve got the extra money, whenever you want.

Perhaps a more strategic answer is maybe it’s time to broaden your butchering horizons when you feel confident cooking cheaper brands. As I’ve told several folks this year who’ve asked, you can either cook the cut or you can’t…period. There is no magic brand that will take your ribs that don’t already score well and magically cook out to perfect 180 ribs. That being said if you are competitive with whatever your current variety is and you’re pushing for those last few points it might be worth trying to start with a better piece of meat and see if that helps you find them.

We must also keep in mind the law of diminishing returns, just because you pay double for a slab of meat, doesn’t mean it’s twice as good as what you were using before. The long and short of it, get great at cooking what is easy to source and a good cut for a reasonable price, and when you step up to those heritage breeds you’ll really understand what the difference is and just what it is you paid for.


Calendar of Upcoming Events

Visit the MABA Events Calendar for more details.

Judging Certification Classes

10/8 SCA Certified Steak Judge Class, Lancaster, PA
12/4 KCBS Certified BBQ Judge Certification Class, Mannington, WV
12/10 SCA Certified Steak Judge Class, Goldsboro, NC

SCA Steak Cookoffs

10/9 Smoke Showing Double, Lancaster, PA
10/10 Garden Spot Double, Lancaster, PA
10/15-16 Blonde Farm Fall Double, Shenandoah Junction, WV
10/23 Lancaster BBQ Supply Fall Double, Lancaster, PA
10/30 Ribeyes Steakhouse Double, Snow Hill, NC
11/6 Raise the Steaks Triple, New Holland, PA
12/11 Santa’s Sack Double, Goldsboro, NC

KCBS Master Series Contests

10/8-9 Eastern Carolina BBQ Throwdown, Rocky Mount, NC
10/8-9 Keystone Classic BBQ State Championship, Harrisburg, PA
10/8-9 Waxhaw Grillin’ and Chillin’ BBQ Cookoff, Waxhaw, NC
10/15-16 Maryland State BBQ Bash, Bel Air, MD
10/15-16 Nightmare Before Zom-B-Q, Galax, VA
10/16-17 Zom-B-Q Rufus Teague Series, Galax, VA
10/22-24 Red White and Que Double-Campground Series, Jackson, NJ
10/29-31 Shelby’s BBQ Extravaganza Double, Shelby, NC
11/5-6 Currituck Bulls and BBQ, Powells Point, NC
12/11-13 River Bar Smoke Out, Goldsboro, NC

KCBS Backyard Series Contests

10/15-16 Maryland State BBQ Bash, Bel Air, MD
10/15-16 Nightmare Before Zom-B-Q, Galax, VA
10/16-17 Zom-B-Q Rufus Teague Series, Galax, VA
10/22-24 Red White and Que Double-Campground Series, Jackson, NJ
10/29-30 Almost Heaven’s Spooktacular Backyard BBQ, Buckhannon, WV
12/11-13 River Bar Smoke Out, Goldsboro, NC