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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Annual Northern Illinois BBQ Brethren Mid Winter Gathering!!

A special thanks to Ron Lewen and Bill Mehilos for organizing!

Last June, I joined an online BBQ forum called the The BBQ Brethren.  This forum is dedicated to the art of low and slow and covers everything from the backyard to the American Royal.  The BBQ Brethren serves not only as a great source of information for the BBQ enthusiast, but as a fantastic source of cooking inspiration.

This past weekend the Northern Illinois BBQ Brethren held its mid winter gathering at Sweet Baby Ray's in Woodale - its flagship restaurant. It was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with some old friends, meet new ones, talk Q, sample Q and of course shamelessly plug the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ Cook-Off. So, I picked up my buddy and fellow Brethren Greg Bane aka "G" and off we went.

When me and G arrived, one of the first things we saw was Sweet Baby Ray's message board greeting we Brethren.  This was a real nice touch and made us feel real welcome!

Here, a few of our fellow brothers in Q beat us to the door...

SBR's carries a full, well rounded menu. Not only do they serve typical Q fare, but soups and gumbos, seafood, steaks and chops - a little somethn' for everyone.

From the moment we had arrived, we were treated like kings. Appetizers like this shot o' Cajun gumbo were served... well as these BBQ- martinis consisting of baked beans, pulled pork, slaw and pig candy. Who says BBQ can't be sophisticated?

In addition to the Cajun gumbo and BBQ martinis, other appetizers such as fried pickles, BBQ sausage links, burnt ends and New Orleans BBQ shrimp just kept comn' and comn' and comn'.  Man-o-man, me and G were in hog heaven...and were gettin' stuffed before lunch had even been served.

Speakn' of lunch, we feasted on Jamaican Jerk chicken...

...pulled pork with bark even, how about that!

 Oh, and did I mention ribs and brisket? Lots of ribs and brisket!

As sides we had creamed corn, BBQ beans, red beans and rice and corn muffins to name a few.

Chow time...

Great food, great conversation and a room full of Brethren. What more can a BBQ guy like me ask for? And what a great group of folks - very friendly, down to earth and like minded!

After lunch, we got a tour of the premises. Here, BBQ Pitmaster Deuce Raymond explains the catering side of the business.

And just when we thought it could get no better, BAM! it sure as heck did.

Here I am  sandwiched between BBQ Royalty grinn' ear-to-ear. To my left is Lee Ann Whippen of Woodchix BBQ/Chef-Partner Chicago q and star of TLCs BBQ Pitmasters Series (Yes, again!!) and "Sweet Baby Ray" - David Raymond himself.

What a treat!

I'm telling you, BBQ folks are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. Sweet Baby Ray really took care of us and went to great length to make certain we were treated right. He's an excellent host and Chicago is privileged to be home to such a legend.

It was a very special day indeed!


  1. thank you very much it was great to have a restaurant full of barbecue people
    we felt humbled and honored to have our friends and make new barbeuce friends thanks for your nice comments and the great pics as well

    sweet baby ray

  2. Hey Sweet Baby Ray,

    Welcome and thanks for posting here. You're story is amazing and truly inspirational. A real American success story.

    Me and my buddy G had a terrific time and we'll be hitting SBR's again soon no doubt.

    All the best,

    Tom "Pig Daddy" Koprowski

  3. is there a listing of the 2012 ill bbq contests? i can find yours and westmont but thats it unless i go way down state. cant make desplains. thanks for help

  4. The Illinois BBQ Society used to list both sactioned and non-sanctioned contests, but it does not appear that site has been updated since last September. Other than the KCBS website, the BBQ Brethren forum is a good source to locate contests. Look under the "Competition BBQ" forum on the home page. Other than that, I have not found any one site that lists both sanctioend and non-sanctioned contests for Illinois. I'll look around and if I find anyhting, I'll let you know.

  5. Actually, this isn't a bad question to post onto the BBQ Brethren forum.

  6. Illinois BBQ Society was where i used to find the non sanctioned ones..but like you say that sites been dead for months


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