Blog: I have started this blog as a place to put in writing the trials & tribulations of a BBQ caterer that is now 20 years down the road of experience. I am not a normal caterer and therefore I have many a story to tell… both good & bad. I also have a lot of wisdom to share when it comes to outdoor cooking, catering and products related. I will not blog everyday however I will post as often as my schedule lets me. I am a professional BBQ chef, Professional photographer and a local school bus driver. I am a people person and a creator. So today is April 22, 2017 lets see where this goes.
History:I started as an on-site pig roast and catering business somewhere around 1997. We have changed somewhat over the years and in other ways we have stayed the same. When I say “we” I refer to my awesome wife and the wonderful helpers that have worked for me over the years. But the main core of the business is me Richard G Smith Jr. I am the guy on the phone, the webmaster, the photographer, planner, cook, sauce maker, equipment welder, firewood cutter and all the other things that make this little business work. I have personally catered well over 1000 events in the last 20 years. I rest on my accolades.
History: I purchased Have Pig Will Travel from a man in Ringoes, NJ back around 1997 (honestly I can’t remember the year). I moved the business forward with the addition of what I call “Real BBQ”. More about that later. I moved from the back yard affairs to company picnic, events, festival vending, cook-offs, sauce making and more. I have cooked all over NJ, Eastern PA and NYC area.
Born in Hunterdon County New Jersey my family moved to the Southwestern part of Virginia during my high school years. While there I observed many pig roasts and seen how to cook pigs. I always thought it was rather easy. After high school I returned to NJ and years later out of necessity (got laid off) I was at the helm of this little business.
Real BBQ: This is the focus of my business for a long time now. What Is “Real BBQ”? Meat cooked over wood. Propane stole the flavor from America’s backyard years ago and most people didn’t even realize what happened. I say most people meaning here in the Northeast. In the South and other rural areas folks know their BBQ. Around here there is so much flat out fake bbq it is a crying shame. All the corporate restaurants have their way of engineering food to taste like something it is not. Engineer and food should not even be used in the same sentence. Smaller restaurants have various ways to make you think you ate something you thought was bbq. Aroma machines producing a smoky smell as soon as you come through the door, is just one of many techniques they use.
A 20 year old New Jersey college kid more than likely knows squat about real bbq. But he is the guy manning the bbq pit at your local restaurant, yes he needs a job and that is great. If there is not a pile of wood out back, there is not real bbq coming out of the pit.
Lately I have noticed some BBQ shops popping up here in Hunterdon County. Some are using smokers that use a “digital brain” to add wood pellets or wafers to the smoker. Why a digital brain you may ask? Because they can not use their own. Cooking with wood is an art. It is being able to tell the difference between cherry wood or white oak, red oak, hickory and so on, and know the flavor each wood produces. True BBQ is not putting pellets in a hopper and using a digital box to operate your equipment. Learning about rubs & spices, this is an art of it’s own that also finds it’s way into the spectrum of true BBQ. Sauce making: this is where you really create your own signature in BBQ. You must have your own sauce. And we have 6 of them at last count.
I remember competing in my first KCBS cook-off in North Wildwood, NJ back in 1999. What fun it was to meet all the competitors from all across the country and see all the different styles and techniques. What fun I had that weekend. We did not win but we placed in the top 10 with brisket & chicken and that was awesome.
Look at my FAQ page for more info and learn about bbq.
I have been in this business long enough to see many pig roasting guys come and go. We are still here. Why? I believe it is because I try to give the customers what they are looking for. Most customers want a pig roast, where the pig is cooking for hours leading up to the event.
Beware, many caterers will arrive with some little pig they cooked in their kitchen or worse yet meat just cut up in pans and they will call that a pig roast. Shame on them for misleading the customer.
I, on the other hand arrive and cook the pig in a timely fashion, from raw to finish, right there at your location. I describe it as “as close to a country style pig roast as you can get within a catering context.”
So I focus on cooking or “smoke cooking” the old way. For ribs, chicken, brisket, turkey and wings I use a custom built Kingfisher smoker. For roasting pigs I use custom built ovens that I have made myself. Pigs are roasted and other meat is smoked. But all is cooked using real wood or hardwood charcoal. Propane is used for burgers & dogs. I want to stay original and true to form with the bbq. So come on in to the website and poke around.