Byron Chism – 20 years of living the BBQ dream

Byron Chism – 20 years of living the BBQ dream

John Hargate spoke with good words about the Butt Rub legend “Byron Chism”. Who doesn’t know the Butt Rub? Being one of the first commercial rubs I heard about, it was an honour to hear from the man himself what lead him to make a commercial rub and how he got hooked on BBQ as a consequence. He talks about his influences and what’s making the art of barbecue so attractive to him.

How Ol’ Jim got me into BBQ

Butt Rub
Here’s Ol’ Jim with my old custom made smoker

My cooking career started in college. It was a natural act to combat poor cafeteria food.I stayed with it and learned what I could from my grandmother and aunts and after graduation, I began cooking for a living.  A few years later I went to the Culinary Institute of America and continued my career. When talking about my BBQ history, I could say that I had a leg up most people didn’t have by growing up in Texas. Until about 20 years ago  true low and slow BBQ was an obscure regional form of art. My neighbor in Florida “Ol’ Jim” was my real BBQ mentor. Ol Jim taught me how to cook low and slow, very old school/ He even built a cooker for me with my help.  My early BBQ days with him set the foundation for my future with BBQ. To date it has been 19 years with creating and marketing Butt Rub and 18 years competing.

Butt Rub
The idea to bring Butt Rub on the market came when I was late in my 20’s. As I mentioned before “Ol’ Jim” was old school all the way. I learned to cook pork and that was it. Our region came with a die hard BBQ culture so I got quite the BBQ education back then… I had found myself an old Texas cookbook and in the BBQ section it talked about the importance of rubs and gave some basic recipes. I liked the idea but Jim scoffed at it, “Them people who write them books don’t know everything” he would say. Rubs, historically came out of Texas. I think it goes back to the influence of the German butcher shops in central Texas. They all made sausages and what do you need to make sausages? Seasonings of course. It found its way to the uncooked BBQ.

How Butt Rub got me into competition BBQ

Byron's Butt Rub

As I emerged as my own cook I would incorporate a rub. That’s where Butt Rub® began. It was a rub for butts so why not call it Butt Rub®? I began selling it in my own community, then on line and convinced I was on to something I hit the BBQ festivals. It was about a year later I began to compete. It dawned on me that being a BBQ champion would give great credentials to my product and that’s how we got her off the ground. Being in competition for about 18 years has taught me that it’s a great way to meet wonderful people. BBQ folks are The Best! If you ask me what I would advice new teams I would say :”Learn the basics, fire control, how to make a rub, a sauce etc.” But most of all: “Use your senses when cooking and get creative.” It is much more satisfying to create your own path and win with it then to follow someone else’s method.

More than a passion for outdoor cooking


The best part of the BBQ scene for me is travel experience it brought along. I have been able to travel freely across the US and now other countries for competitions. The freedom of the road, doing what you love and making friends from around the world is about as good as it gets for me. Besides what’s better than building a fire, prepping meat, smelling the wood smoke and the flavors of the meat as it drips on the coals. Cooking under the stars and sharing stories and good beer with friends, making new friends. And then the absolute best part is making folks happy with what you have created.
Playing Guitar
My best moment so far in BBQ was March 10th 2002. We were competing in Mobile Alabama amongst 90 teams. All top teams were present, it was my moms birthday and her, my dad my aunts and uncles and other family were there. Butt Rub got 4 calls and the Grand Championship. The whole event would become a 1 hour Food Network special called Bama – Que. The win was very special and the publicity from the show did more to help get our product off the ground than anything. It aired numerous times and every time put us that much more on the map. It was a good day.

Jon Hargate: “He breathes BBQ”

Byron Chism and John Hargate
Byron Chism and John Hargate
As stated before the BBQ scene is a great way to get to know people. That’s how John Hargate and I met. We were at the first Kcbs event in Europe (spring of 2011) we were both competing. Later on I spent some more time with him in England at Grillstock. He has the best collection of songs about BBQ. More than anyone on the planet! I helped him a bit with supples etc when he was in the States for the Jack event. John could be described as a great BBQ character. Actually he embodies BBQ. He lives it, breathes it and even managed to make his living from his passion.
The story of him being in a band, touring Texas and running out of money is a classic. The members had to all take jobs and John’s just happened to be helping out at a BBQ joint, The rest is history.

Following in the trail of passion

Chef Forgione
Chef Richard D’Orazi, Byron Chism, Chef Larry Forgione
My Chef inspiration is Chef Larry Forgione. He is known as the Godfather of American cuisine. His approach to historical American cooking combined with the “back to the farm” and simple cooking put our cuisine on the map. I had the honor of doing my internship at his restaurant An American Place.
My pit master inspiration is Mike Wosniak of Quau.  Mike came along about the time I was in my hey day ( early 2000’s) He was and is so original. His approach has always been rethink and figure out a unique and better way. I have always been the same way. Win or lose I’m giving you original material and Mike has done that even better than me. I think he is the winingest  cooker in KCBS history or very close to it.
How did we meet? At the cook offs with him picking my brain of course!
To end this interview I was asked for my favorite BBQ meal. I could say with ease it is Heritage BBQ. What is that? It’s the deepest roots of low and slow BBQ. The tradition comes from the deep south of the US and it is about whole hog cooking. Once it was suspended from a trench in the ground but since the early 1900’s it has been in a brick pit whereby coals are produced and shoveled beneath the hog. It is generally a 24 hour process. We have two heritage cooks a year at the Butt Ranch in Tennessee. One is to kick off the Jack Daniel’s BBQ event in October and the other is to celebrate our traditional July 4th holiday. BBQ has become easier but no creation or invention has improved the quality and flavor of what is achieved from the heritage BBQ method.

I hope you all liked reading about the creation of butt rub and how travelling and the brotherhood of BBQ make are hobby shine. If you did please help us spread the word by sharing this post to the ones you think who might be interested reading about the trail of passion. Want to stay tuned for more? Follow at social media or sign up for our newsletter!