Tag Archive: Luke Darnell

  1. MABA Well Represented at the KCBS Banquet

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    by Luke Darnell, MABA President and Pitmaster for Old Virginia Smoke

    2017 was another fantastic year for MABA teams at the upper levels of the KCBS rankings.  This region continues to thrive year in and year out, and has become a force to be reckoned with in the BBQ world. Congrats to all that heard their name called at the KCBS Banquet in January, and good luck to everyone in the upcoming year!

    KCBS Overall Top 25 MABA Teams

    8.  Wolf’s Revenge BBQ

    13.  Old Virginia Smoke

    24. Checkered Flag 500 BBQ

    25.  Redneck Scientific

    KCBS Chicken Top 25 MABA Teams

    1.        Old Virginia Smoke

    18.      Who Cares BBQ

    23.  Shortsville Smokers

    25.  Sauced! BBQ Team

    KCBS Ribs Top 25 MABA Teams

    11.  Muttley Crew BBQ

    17.  Wolf’s Revenge BBQ

    19.   3Eyz BBQ

    23. Good Smoke BBQ

    KCBS Pork Top 25 MABA Teams

    10.  Good Smoke BBQ

    11.  Shortsville Smokers

    20. Sauced! BBQ Team

    23.  Redneck Scientific

    24.  The Smokehouse Mafia

    KCBS Brisket Top 25 MABA Teams

    5.  Wolf’s Revenge BBQ

    6.   Checkered Flag 500 BBQ

    20.  4:20Q

    25.  Old Virginia Smoke

  2. MABA President Luke Darnell Teaches at Traeger Headquarters

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    Earlier this month, Luke Darnell, president of MABA and pitmaster of Old Virginia Smoke, had the opportunity to teach a BBQ shop class at Traeger Headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    There were fifty eager people to sit down for four hours and get some tips and tricks to make great BBQ.  Here are some pictures from the event–
  3. Interview With the Champs – Luke Darnell, Old Virginia Smoke

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

    You may not believe this coming from me, but I met Luke Darnell over a few drinks.  Since that time, we’ve grown a great friendship.  He’s been there for me in some dark days and been there to celebrate some of my greatest accomplishments.  That’s just Luke…he’s always there for me, for you, for everyone.  He’s the mayor of Barbecuetown as I say.  He knows everyone.  He’s an ambassador for our sport…and has a KCBS award that says so.  He won’t like this, but I’ll say it here anyway…I once asked Luke what his goal in barbecue was.  He looked me dead in the eye and without hesitation said, “I want to be the best in the world.”.  He’s spent countless hours practicing and even more hours traveling to cook.  Combine that with a thirst of learning everything out there and taking multiple classes, he’s put himself and the Old Virginia Smoke team in position to be among the best in the world…and I for one won’t count him out to one day be the very best.

    Now, I like to feature first-time winners and lesser know teams with recent wins here with IWTC, but after coming to Fredericksburg, VA for the first annual two-step double contest and winning the whole shootin’ match, I thought it might be time to feature the big bearded softy with the best branded gear in barbecue!  So, without further ado, I give you Luke Darnell…

    Boom!  Let’s get to this early…as a fellow Northern Virginian, how was it to win on day two in what is one of our closest contests and home state?

    Luke Darnell, Old Virginia Smoke:
    I can’t tell you how much it means to us. We’ve never won in Virginia.   Plus, the BBQ Jamboree was our very first contest more than five years ago.   Winning it is something the three of us have thought about for a long time.

    Tell me what you were thinking after day one.  Did you feel good about being within striking distance for the two-day overall after a great sixth place finish or did you think otherwise?

    LD, OVS:

    We thought we had a chance, but knew we had to fix ribs.  They always say not to make any dramatic changes to your program, but we knew that we had to make one.  But we were also very aware That Who Cares BBQ and Uncle Toad’s were gonna have strong cooks as well.

    You had Leigh Anne (teammate who recently moved to Arizona) back with you for the first time this year…what was it like to have the band back together?

    The Lil’ General, Kim Darnell, Luke Darnell, and Leigh Anne Terry…Old Virginia Smoke!

    LD, OVS:
    We were like peas and carrots again.  Like we were never apart.  Just smiles all around.

    Describe the Lil’ General (Luke’s wife and teammate Kim) in four words.

    LD, OVS:
    Fierce.  Competitive.  Jovial. Vibrant.

    This weekend you brought out a stellar John Busch impersonation.  What was your motivation and inspiration for the character?  Can we expect to see that or any other characters later this year?

    LD, OVS:
    I had been thinking about doing it for a while.   I even once had one of his trademark peach polos and hats from his van in my hands.  Johns one of my favorite people.   I jut thought it would be fun.  I don’t think there are any other characters planned, but you never know when one might pop up.

    Ok, here’s the short answer round, rapid fire:

    Favorite 80s band?  –  Prince
    Turn in music genre? – Gangster rap
    Bacon is ________? From the gods
    Most people don’t know I’m _________? I have a degree in creative writing
    Favorite brown liquor? – willet pot still reserve
    Favorite competition? – BBQ Jamboree
    Cats for dogs?-  so tough.  Probably dogs.
    Favorite place to vacation? – I love Key West

    You’ve travelled all over the east coast, and as far as Arkansas and Kansas…what’s your favorite area to compete and why (reason does not have to be related to competitions)?

    LD, OVS:
    That’s a super tough question.   Each area has its high points and different reasons to go.  Kim and I love traveling to new states and cooking.  This year we went to Tennessee, and have future trips planned for Vermont and Illinois.  So I’d kinda have to say—our favorite area is wherever we’re cooking!

    I ask this to all the teams that do IWTC, so you’re getting it too…what piece of advice would you give to teams to up their game or push them over the edge and win that first GC?

    LD, OVS:
    Practice is key.  You have to be able to maintain consistency in your product, and in yourself.  Keep a clear head and stay on your tasks.

    What do you like to do outside of BBQ?

    LD, OVS:

    Is there anything else???  I do like wine tasting, bourbon tasting and beer tasting.  I also love golf and reading.

    As many know, you’re the MABA president.  What do you want to leave as your mark on the association and/or what do you want to accomplish before your time as president concludes?

    LD, OVS:
    Hopefully we will be able to build a strong base for the Association to be able to grow and thrive in the future.Q:
    Now that you’ve won a grand in Virginia and been featured in IWTC, what are the rest of your goals for 2017?LD, OVS:
    To keep on trucking, and have fun at as many contests as we can.  Love our BBQ people.Q:
    Any parting shots?LD, OVS:
    Everyone be safe out there and get ready for an awesome summer.

  4. MABA Annual Meeting a Huge Success

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    As is tradition, the annual meeting starts with the “MABA Good Luck Shot!”

    On March 11 in Frederick, MD, the Mid-Atlantic Barbecue Association had its annual meeting of the membership.  Despite chilly temperatures outside, the conditions inside were top notch!  The Frederick Moose Lodge was the site and it fit MABA’s marquee event perfectly.  A robust buffet line of good eats was served along with offerings from a full bar and full menu for ordering from our hosts.

    MABA President Luke Darnell got the program kicked off right on time at 1:00pm and highlighted the associations challenges and success in 2016.  The next order of business had MABA Secretary Brian Walrath announce the newly elected board members who will serve two year terms.  Congratulations to Megan Ferguson, Chris Hall, Mark Kenney, Mark Gibbs, and Amy Overbey.  Thank you to all nine candidates that ran.  The election results were very tight and MABA members set a new high water mark with over 50% of the membership voting.

    New MABA Board of Directors, Chris Hall, Megan Ferguson, Mark Kenney, Amy Overbey, and Mark Gibbs

    The next item on the agenda was the Team of the Year awards for each of the four meats and overall.  Congratulations to the four meat winners and overall winner:

    Chicken – 3 Eyz BBQ
    Ribs – 3 Eyz BBQ
    Pork – Checkered Flag 500
    Brisket – Wolf’s Revenge

    Overall – 3 Eyz BBQ

    Congratulations to Tracy, Dan, and Rick for winning 2016 Team of the Year.

    The entire MABA Team of the Year results can be seen here.

    The meeting ended with funnest part of the day and that’s the raffles for the contributed prizes, 29 contest entries, and three awesome cookers!

    In all this was another amazing event, perhaps the best yet according to much of the early feedback.  Thanks to everyone who participated and good luck to everyone in 2017!




  5. The Great Brunswick BBQ Throwdown Brunswick, MD

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    by Mark Gibbs, Pitmaster of The Checkered Flag 500 BBQ

    The 2017 Mid Atlantic BBQ region kicked off in cold style in Brunswick, Maryland with the first annual Great Brunswick Throwdown.  Beth Johnson and her team did a great job under some tough conditions to make this first year event a good one.  There were a few logistical hiccups, which we find at most first year contests, but Beth was there to do her best to make us all comfortable!  The small town of Brunswick was very welcoming to teams and we all did our part to help add to the local economy too.  A couple of the local eateries were pretty packed when we visited them!

    The weather was the story of the weekend.  The high for the event may have been in the upper 30’s.  I know that the thermometer on the big blue trailer was reading about 17 degrees at 2:30am on Saturday.  Despite the chill in the air, the smokers were rolling and the 50 teams all were able to get turn in’s done and on time!  Well done teams!

    It was great catching up with old friends and meeting some new friends this weekend.  The social scene was a little off because of the cold weather, but everyone seemed happy to be back out on the BBQ trail again in 2017.  I know that the consensus among the teams that I spoke to was a resounding yes to a 2nd Annual Throwdown in 2018!

    Congrats to Luke and Kim Darnell from Old Virginia Smoke on the Grand Championship and to Chiles Cridlin and the Wolf’s Revenge team on the Reserve Grand!   OVS took home top Chicken honors with a 180 score, Beer Meets Grill brought home the big Ribs trophy, Wolf’s Revenge tore up pork with a perfect 180 and Lo’ & Slo’ won the Brisket category.  A shout out goes to all of the teams that were called and we are looking forward to Urbanna, Virginia and BBQ Gives Back for the next stop on the Mid-Atlantic BBQ Association schedule!

    First place winners:
    Chicken – Old Virginia Smoke (perfect 180!)
    Ribs –Beer Meets Grill
    Pork –Wolf’s Revenge (perfect 180!)
    Brisket –Lo ‘N’ Slo BBQ

    Grand Champion –Old Virginia Smoke
    Reserve Grand Champion –Wolf’s Revenge

    Check out the full competition results here.


  6. Chillin & Grillin In The Glades – Wise, VA

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    by Luke Darnell, MABA President and Pitmaster of Old Virginia Smoke

    (This post is mostly satire)
    Chillin’ and Grillin in the glades was held July 8-9 in beautiful Wise, VA. The contest was fantastic, in a fantastic town with great people. A huge congrats to Big Show BBQ Team on the GC.

    But much head turning and corner-whispering was done due to Mark Kenney, of Sauce This fame, cooking alongside Mark Gibbs of Checkered Flag 500. Checkered Flag 500 would have a phenomenal day, finishing with RGC on the day amid a torrid streak of top 3 finishes.

    Are the two a new couple on the BBQ circuit? Does Danny of Sauce This need to be worried about losing Kenney? Stay tuned to the MABA newsletter.

    Pic of Mark and Kenny sharing a margarita
    Mark and Mark…just a couple of fellas sharing a margarita!

    Ok, on to the serious stuff…the results!

    First Place Winners:
    Chicken – Big Show BBQ Cookin’ Team
    Ribs –Big Show BBQ Cookin’ Team
    Pork – Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
    Brisket – Q Factor

    Grand Champion –Big Show BBQ Cookin’ Team
    Reserve Grand Champion –Checkered Flag 500 BBQ

    Check out the full competition results here.

  7. The New MABBQA.COM

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    One of the things that we’ve all heard throughout the years, and I’ve probably said myself a 100 times, is that the old MABA website is terribly outdated and extremely hard to navigate.

    Well, those times have passed.

    MABBQA.com has recently been updated.  The user experience is streamlined, includes a blog, and is much easier to navigate.  We’ve also implemented a new membership database solution which should make it easier to keep your information up-to-date.

    MABA new website homepage image

    A huge shout out to everyone on the MABA Board  who made this happen, but in particular, Megan Ferguson, who spearheaded the new website project and put in a lot of hours.  If you see Meg, be sure to give her a pat on the back for a job well done!

    Keep on Smokin’,


    Headshot of Luke Darnell
    MABA President Luke Darnell
  8. Roc City Rib Fest, Rochester, NY

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    by Luke Darnell, MABA President and Pitmaster of Old Virginia Smoke

    The Roc City Ribfest is one of the only events in the Mid-Atlantic during the Memorial Day weekend.  The competition features 50 teams over a three day event right outside of Rochester, NY.

    And boy, was it a hot time.  95 degrees and higher over the days of the competition, which is very uncommon this far north even for the summer.  The competition was even hotter, with Insane Swine from Massachusetts notching a GC and Old Virginia Smoke finishing at RGC.  Roc City is also home to the NY MABA Cup, which was won again by Stubborn Bull BBQ and Tim Rohrs.   Congrats to all that heard their name called!
    Picture of Roc City Rib Fest, Rochester, NY

    First Place Winners:
    Chicken – Black Dawg BBQ
    Ribs – Red Valley BBQ
    Pork – Insane Swine BBQ
    Brisket – Insane Swine BBQ

    Grand Champion – Insane Swine BBQ
    Reserve Grand Champion – Old Virginia Smoke

    Check out the full competition results here.

  9. MABA Launches New Member Newsletter

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    Image of newsletter masthead
    MABA’s new electronic newsletter debuted May 19, 2016

    MABA—Off and Running

    Welcome to the first of MABA’s new monthly newsletters. We’ve had a busy first couple of months in getting the new board situated and gathering feedback from the membership on MABA’s programs and services.

    Your voices have been heard. We received more than 120 responses to the membership survey that we distributed in early April. As the weeks and months unfold and we continue to analyze the data, we will be sharing the results with you and how we plan to act on them.

    This newsletter is a direct reflection of those survey results. More than 90% of you responded that you would like to see a monthly newsletter from MABA, with interviews, contest write ups and calendar updates. The board has undertaken this initiative to keep you better informed on the reason we’re all apart of this family–barbecue.

    On behalf of the Board, please enjoy this first edition! If you have an interest in contributing to the newsletter, please contact Brian Walrath at brnwlr@aol.com.

    Smoke it up!


    Headshot of Luke Darnell
    MABA President Luke Darnell
  10. Contest Review, BBQ Jamboree – Fredericksburg, VA

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    By Brian Walrath, MABA Secretary and Pitmaster for Brown Liquor BBQ

    Fredericksburg has quickly grown into one of the marquee events on the east coast for KCBS competition barbecue.  Contest organizers, James Sharon and Jeremy Bullock do a great job for the teams and have grown this event every year since their first in 2010.  This year would again be the most teams for this event as 72 top notch teams would battle it out for the $12,500 purse!  And, this event is the official MABA state cup for the state of Virginia – extra incentive for teams from the Commonwealth!

    The weather forecasts for Friday and Saturday were to be laced with periods of thunderstorms and some rain.  Friday afternoon was mostly a beautiful day with mild temps, but the storm we were promised by weather forecasters came to fruition and about 2pm or so, we were hit with a big thunderstorm and a good soaking of rain for about a half hour.  Teams dried out from the rain blast and settled in.

    image of Luke Darnell in his president's jacket
    MABA “El Presidente” Luke Darnell, Pitmaster of Old Virginia Smoke!

    The cooks meeting went as most do, but this one would be interrupted by a special presentation.  Jerry and Roxanne from Redneck Scientific presented newly minted MABA President Luke Darnell with the new president’s jacket and sash bearing the title, “El Presidente.”  Thanks to previous President Mike Fay, for several years of service building and running MABA into the great organization it is today!

    Speaking of Mike Fay, he spearheaded a couple of noteworthy events and cooking challenges.  The “Cheesy Beer Challenge” was first – teams wanting to participate, brought a case of inexpensive, or “cheesy” beer (under $20) and the winner of the chicken category would be awarded all the beer!  Second was the Whiskey-A-Go-Go – this would be for the highest brisket entry and entry into that was a bottle of good whiskey.  Congratulations to Aporkalypse Now for winning all the beer and to 270 Smokers for winning all the whiskey!  One last thanks to Mike for also organizing a MABA potluck dinner after the cook’s meeting.  Many delicious offerings were brought and shared and the group had a nice time eating and drinking together!

    One last thunderstorm after turn-ins and before awards would pass through and wreak havoc on teams who didn’t quite finish their packing.  Awards came and saw 3 Eyz BBQ taking the grand champion position, congrats to Dan and Rick for a great cook.  Don and Sandy Wallace from Life is Good But BBQ is Better would land their best finish to date with an impressive reserve grand champion AND the Virginia State Cup…way to go everyone who heard their name on this day in a deep and tough field!

    GC winners 3 Eyz BBQ and RGC winners Life is Good But BBQ is Better!
    GC winners 3 Eyz BBQ and RGC winners Life is Good But BBQ is Better!

    First place winners:
    Chicken – 3 Eyz BBQ
    Ribs – 270 Smokers
    Pork – Life is Good But BBQ is Better
    Brisket – 3 Eyz BBQ

    Grand Champion – 3 Eyz BBQ
    Reserve Grand Champion – Life is Good But BBQ is Better

    Check out the full competition results here.