The kitchen staff at the Rendezvous tends to stick around for years, even decades. Sounds like you truly love your job.
I do love it. I always looked at my job at the Rendezvous as a challenge, not a job. If you look at it like a job that means you really don’t want to go. But this is my life, and I enjoy doing it.
You call it a challenge. Manning the kitchen at the Rendezvous must keep you pretty busy. How many ribs do you cook in a week?
We go through about 6,000 pounds of ribs a week. Some weeks we do more — up to 8,000 pounds.
That’s a lot of ribs! Can you tell us a little about how they’re prepared?
We use pure hardwood charcoal, no hickory. We slow cook our ribs for an hour and a half, but we’re not smoking them. When you smoke meat, you have your fire on one side and your meat on the other. You can let them sit four or five hours. But when you’re grilling, you have to stay and watch it. We start the grills every morning around 7, and we’re cooking all day.
You guys baste with a vinegar solution and use a secret blend of spices on the ribs. Would you share any of the ingredients?
The baste is a vinegar base: our seasoning, our sauce, and water. But we won’t share the ingredients of the spice blend. I will tell you, we don’t put any seasoning on the ribs until we get ready to serve them. Then we mop on hot basting liquid and sprinkle on our seasoning. This helps crystallize the seasoning on top of the ribs.
What celebrities have you been most excited about feeding?
The most exciting thing is when you feed the president of the United States. For a guy who came from poverty, I never thought I would even be near a president, but I have pictures on my wall of me and President [George W.] Bush. That was one of the biggest days here. I fed President Obama and Mrs. Obama, too. We fixed theirs, and they took it to Air Force One.