Tag Archive: The Redneck BBQ Lab

  1. Jerry Stephenson, Pitmaster of Redneck Scientific Opens The Redneck BBQ Lab

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

    Time to eat!

    I know we’ve all dreamed about it…or to some had nightmares.  What is “it?”  Taking that plunge from competition barbecue and/or barbecue catering to opening your very own barbecue joint!  Well, Jerry Stephenson of Redneck Scientific fame (yeah, the team that finished fourth overall in KCBS in 2016!), took the plunge in January!  Jerry opened The Redneck BBQ Lab in Benson, North Carolina.

    An impressive line-up of trophies for sure!

    I happened to be not-too-far away from Jerry’s restaurant the first week he opened visiting some friends to attend a Tarheel/Syracuse basketball game and we decided to stop in for lunch the day after the game.  The Redneck BBQ Lab is nestled in next to a gas station in a busy intersection on highway 210, just off of interstate 40.

    You can’t miss the The Redneck BBQ Lab!

    The first thing you notice pulling in is the big painted logo on the side of the building.  The rumor is that this impressive visual landmark was hand crafted by the Sean Manley, aka, “The Guv,” Jerry’s brother-in-law and husband of Roxanne Manley, Jerry’s secret weapon on the barbecue trail!  The front of the joint is equally impressive with a bold series of words that make you want to see what’s inside…PROVEN. WINNING. COMPETITION. BBQ!  The interior has a homey look with wood grain throughout and a country feel as local, historic pictures and signs with country slogans adorn the walls on your way to the counter.  The other thing you can’t help but notice is the trophy shelf that sits right above the windows to the food service line where your order is plated.  This trophy case is flat out impressive and I couldn’t help but look up and wonder about the times I’ve competed against Jerry and Roxanne and think of all the times they whipped my ass!

    Lucky to grab a snapshot of Jerry while he was still relatively still!

    After a handshake and some pleasantries with Jerry, he was off to run an errand as busy restauranteurs often do.  My buddies and I decided to get a sampling of several barbecue meats that included smoked spare ribs, pulled pork, and brisket burnts ends and slices.  The Redneck Barbecue Lab only sells burnt ends on certain days, and we were glad we hit the right one!  Our sides included local collards and the jalapeno mac ‘n cheese.  As a competition barbecue cook, sometimes our opinions are flawed when it comes to restaurant barbecue.  But I can tell you confidently, Jerry is doing it right!  The brisket was perfectly smoked and tender as a mother’s love.  The pulled pork was true to this region and succulent with great mouth feel.  The burnt ends literally melted in your mouth.  The spare ribs were done just right…not overcooked and falling off the bone, but just the right doneness to give you a great bite and chew.  The impressiveness didn’t stop there.  The collards and mac were among the best I’ve dug in to as well.

    Brisket, ribs, pork, mac, and collards were the order of the day!

    Perhaps what’s most impressive about The Redneck BBQ Lab however, is the people.  Our service was quick, friendly, and with the southern charm that always makes me come back to these parts!  The joint is just that…a joint.  It’s not a big place and if you want to be sure to get some tasty ‘que, you better get there early.  As with all of the best BBQ hotspots I’ve found, they sell a finite amount and when they’re sold out, that’s it!

    All in all, it was a great experience and the food was killer.  It’s right off 40 and not too far off of 95.  If you get a chance, go, you won’t be disappointed.  Jerry and his team are doing it right.  I will be back for sure the first chance I get!

    Have you eaten great barbecue at a Mid-Atlantic barbecue joint lately?  Tell us about it and we’ll feature other restaurants in the newsletter and the MABA website.  Just email your review/story to me at brnwlr@aol.com.

    Impressive crowds flock to the The Lab!
  2. Interview With the Champs – Redneck Scientific

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

    In case you’ve been under a rock for the last two years, perhaps you haven’t noticed the incredible run that team Redneck Scientific is on.  From Clayton, North Carolina and led by Pitmaster Jerry Stephenson, the pride of Johnston County has 10…yes, 10 grand championship in 2016 alone!  Along with his usual sidekick, sister Roxanne, you’ll see Redneck Scientific not only high on the MABA TOY points standings, but they’re right up there in the KCBS TOY standings too.  And if all this wasn’t enough, Jerry has a huge new project in the works soon to debut…check it all out in this month’s Interview With the Champs!

    Redneck Scientific logo

    Wow, 10 GCs in 2016.  Can you point to one or two things that have been the difference this year or is it a combination of things?

    Jerry Stephenson, Redneck Scientific:
    I think the key to this year’s successes has been we’ve kept it really simple which has led us to be more consistent and make less mistakes than others. Also, I think we’ve worked out a flavor profile that’s appealing to judges and not something generic that has been replicated, bartered or stolen by others.

    But, the most compelling reason we are doing so well this season is I have a Roxanne. And no one else does.

    You’re right there in the hunt for KCBS Team of the Year, currently in second place and within striking distance.  Was chasing KCBS TOY one of the goals for this season?

    JS, RS:
    Third place actually as of today. And, no, chasing TOY was not a goal for us this year. We were gearing towards it in the future but this year is just kind of happened.

    Will you keep up the rigorous schedule to try to secure the TOY win?

    JS, RS:
    We plan on finishing out the NC contests, The Jack and both the American Royal Invitational/Open. After that, I think we just shut it down. We’re short on TOY points due to the local NC/SC/VA contests not being full of cook teams like they have in the past. I’m not inclined to go chasing contests all over the nation with 35 or more teams to try to get max points either. In the end, this is a money game played by folks with a lot more money and time than I have at this moment. Maybe in the future we will be able to afford it to make a dedicated run at the KCBS TOY title. But, not right now.

    Congratulations on qualifying for “The Jack.”  Will you also be heading to Kansas City this year for “The Royal?”

    JS, RS:
    Ironically, yes. The draw for the Jack was the factor in making our decision to go back to the Royal again this year. We’ve been the past 3 years and a good friend of mine was going there for his first time and wanted us to go with him. I told him the only way we would be going this year, because of all the stuff we have going on, is if we got the Jack draw. Which we finally did after 4 years of being eligible.

    I really think he paid someone off to make that happen too!

    Recently you released some big news…can you tell us more about it here?

    Redneck BBQ Lab logoJS, RS:
    Yep. We’re doing exactly what I’ve said I would never do and are opening up a BBQ restaurant in Johnston County NC off of Interstate 40 at exit 319. We will be using our Backwoods Smokers to cook the meat (first and only ones in NC) and will be putting out a daily limited supply of a competition style product not currently being done in our area. We will serve until we run out of food each day. The name of the restaurant will be “The Redneck BBQ Lab”.

    You’re heavily involved in Operation Barbecue Relief.  Can you tell us more about your involvement and how the rest of the barbecue community can help?

    JS, RS:
    OBR’s mission statement (“provides compassion, offers hope and friendship to those whose lives have been affected by disasters across the United States.”) shares a core philosophy of mine that food is a critical means to convey caring to people whether they are in need or just feel like they want to give something back to someone.

    All it takes to give is time and/or money. Both of which we all have a bit of. You can find out more about this at:  https://operationbbqrelief.org/.

    Tell our readers about your team name, set up, and teammates.

    JS, RS:
    Redneck Scientific was formed in late 2011 as a smoker building company that ended up doing one KCBS competition that year. We’ve been competing now for 5 years. In that span of time, we have done 93 contests, won 18 Grand Championships, had 6 Reserve Grand Championships, had over 250 top ten calls, 3 MABA Cup wins in NC and 8 perfect 180 scores.

    We cook out of a unique custom 20-foot trailer that was built out and designed by us.  We cook on a Backwoods Smoker (Pro Junior). We are sponsored by Royal Oak charcoal, BBQ Guru, Mojobricks, Oakridge BBQ rubs and Q Company Backwoods Smokers.

    Our team consists of my wife (Liz), Brother in Law (Sean Manley aka “The Guv”), my 2 daughters (Fiona & Elle), my sister (Roxanne) and myself.

    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?

    JS, RS:
    Treat this game like baseball. Concentrate on hitting 4 singles and you’ll become a better team in the Overall standings…where it matters the most.

    Any other goals for the remainder of 2016 or looking forward?

    JS, RS:
    Probably just finishing all of the things on my plate would be beyond comprehension to me right now! I’m doubting I can fit any other goals in unless we…

    Anything else to add before we sign off?

    JS, RS:
    Yes. I forgot to note that our winning percentage has gone up 300% since attending Cook’s Church at our BBQ contests. Could be a coincidence but why take a chance? Attend one if you get a chance!

  3. Pitmaster Tip of the Month – Bonus Tip (Actually Two)!

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    by Jerry Stephenson, Pitmaster of Redneck Scientific and Owner of The Redneck BBQ Lab

    screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-1-51-37-pmI’m kind of torn between what tip I should share this month and, since I could not decide, I’m going to give 2 instead of one.

    My first tip is that a good partner is a vital key to success in BBQ. Let’s face it…2 hands are better than 1 as are 2 eyes, 2 noses, and 2 extra feet. Often times than not, my sister/BBQ partner is the key deciding factor in our daily successes. Find a reliable and similar minded person to help you. Not just to hang out…but be a part of your successes.

    Finally, my second tip is one that I learned over a period of years. The most underrated and beneficial thing that a cook can have is free. Yep, 100% FREE.  No, I’m not talking free healthcare, money or education. I’m talking free mental help.

    My second tip that has helped my cooking abilities over the year is that mental awareness is key to catching and correcting problems before they occur. This is a quality that all great cooks have.  They “see” the problems coming at them and adjust.  The key to having this mental awareness is getting proper uninterrupted sleep.

    Sleep is my second tip. It’s free and easy to come by if you are prepared. Have a comfortable chair/cot/bed, avoid late night partying all together (especially the jar of clear that some teams like to pass around to cripple their competition), set a bedtime (and stick to it!) and do whatever uncompleted tasks you can do prior to going to bed that will help you save time in the am.

    The TEAM that has had great SLEEP will be more AWARE of obstacles and overcome them in their SUCCESSES.