Q&A WITH PIT MASTER MAT GRINER OF SOUTHERN Q
Tell us about you and your BBQ style.
I grew up in Eastern NC and love a good Eastern vinegar sauce on my pork. I grew up cooking low and slow and with wood, which is how I truly love to cook. There’s just something special about sitting around the pit with family and friends, the smell of the pork dripping into the pit, and of course, the end result...BBQ! I’ve had some of the best times of my life around the pit cooking up some Q!
How long have you been participating in the competitive BBQ world?
I started competing professionally in 2012. My first contest was a Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned event in Salisbury, North Carolina and I’ve been hooked ever since. My team, "Southern Q," and I have been fortunate enough to win two Grand Championships and one Reserve Grand Championship. We are headed to the KCBS World Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas in February and couldn’t be more pumped!
I’ve also met some of the greatest people I know in BBQ. The BBQ family is just a great bunch of people and will go above and beyond for you if need be. I used to watch a group of teams called the Q Pine Nation get all the calls at the contest and they became my driving force to be better. In 2016, I was asked to be a part of the group and haven’t looked back since! To be able to be a part of a group of some very talented cooks, the comradery, and all the good times and laughs, is just second to none in my book.
What’s your first thought in the morning when you wake up to compete in a BBQ competition?
My first thought is to get focused and WIN! I’m a very competitive person and have succeeded in every sport I’ve ever played. We don’t always win, we do hold our own at most competitions, but we love seeing our friends win just as well. Competition BBQ is tougher than ever right now, so any errors during the cook can cost you big time.
Why do you choose Cheshire Pork?
I have chosen to use Cheshire Pork simply cause it’s just that damn good! It always gives me a good and consistent end product and in the competition world, consistency is what wins. When I go in to pick up my meats, I don’t have to dig through the case to find that right one, they all look good and are all competition worthy. That’s not just in the butts, shoulders and ribs, but the entire Cheshire Pork product line is second to none when it comes to outstanding pork and the people who make it happen! That goes back to the BBQ family being a group of good people.
Who do you look up to?
When it comes to BBQ, I’ve been very fortunate to surround myself with good people and good sponsors. I get to represent some of the biggest names in BBQ each and every week: Myron Mixon Smokers, Meat Church, GrillBillies BBQ Supply, Carolina Cookwood, and Cordova Coolers. I say this because I look up to a lot of people in BBQ, some who I know personally and some who I don’t know. Diva Q and Myron Mixon are constantly pushing me to be better and who wouldn’t want people like that in their corner?
Another one of my BBQ mentors is David Mauro and his team “The Blue Bloods.” He was one of the first people to really take the time to help me out early on (and to this day) and steer me in the right direction. He’s been a big part of my success in BBQ. Brad Vuncannon (aka “Pig Pen”), was also a HUGE help for me early on and to this day. I used to call him all the time and I’m sure at some point worried him to death!
Last but certainly not least, my family! They have supported me in so many ways since I’ve chosen BBQ to be my life and I couldn’t be more appreciative for them.