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Meet Pit Boss trailblazer and BBQ Hall of Famer: Lee Ann Whippen, “The Competitor.”
She has been in the competitive barbecue space for more than two decades, including taking home the title of “Master of Que” in the Food Network’s BBQ Brawl and ultimately landing herself in the BBQ Hall of Fame.
Her experience in the world of barbecue and the list of accolades she has racked up along the way is so extensive, we could spend a day, or two, telling you about it. So, instead, Lee Ann shared with us her favorite competition experiences over the years.
The one at top of mind for her is the first time she entered a barbecue competition about 27 years ago. She competed in the Nationals at the American Royal with her dad, and they took home first place in pork.
“Second was taking first runner up at the World Food Championship in Vegas,” she said. “I was able to cook with my daughter at that competition…and with all those barbecuers there, we took first runner up.”
When Lee Ann fires up the Pit Boss, you can bet that ribs are going to be on the menu.
“Ribs are my favorite thing to cook on the Pit Boss,” she said. And she even gave a few tips for pulling off perfect ribs. She recommends putting apple juice in a spray bottle to spritz your ribs as they cook to help with moisture, flavor, and texture.
“Another thing you want to do is make sure you sauce in the last 10 minutes before your ribs are done,” she said. “Just to set the sauce.”
Fueling up is a no-brainer for Lee Ann, as she has a few favorite pellets she keeps in rotation depending on what she has cooking.
“I like the Competition Blend for obvious reasons,” she said. “It really has a great smokiness to it with fruity undertones. It’s so versatile...you can cook beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, seafood, even desserts for that matter.”
Pit Boss Cherry Blend is also one of her favorites, particularly for beef. “I feel like it lends itself to a really nice smoke ring and enhances the flavor of beef,” she said.
Although she has invested many years in this area, Lee Ann says it doesn’t get stale for her because she’s constantly motivated by her love and passion for barbecue.
She is also driven by the uptick in women entering the competitive barbecue space.
“It means so much to me because I feel like I've tried to influence women and championed women to really get into the sport,” she said. “It's just amazing to see more women over the years becoming involved in a male dominated sport.”
It’s a big deal for Lee Ann, who says the number of women competing has really changed since she got her start back in ’96.
“Back then, there were hardly any women at all,” Lee Ann said of past competitions, and she offered up some advice for women who are considering entering a barbecue competition.
“It can be a little intimidating,” she said. “My recommendation is to stay focused, follow your dream, your passion for barbecue, and it'll eventually become less intimidating. If I didn’t overcome the intimidation part of this whole thing, I wouldn't be where I am today.”
Pit Boss is dedicated to championing women in barbecue, whether they’re competing or just cooking for the judges in their own backyards. With our innovative product offerings, we take the intimidation out of barbecuing and make it attainable for anyone who steps up to the grill.
(This is the third in a four-part series highlighting women in barbecue.)