To me, barbecue is not a cuisine, it’s an event and I’ll explain that to you and I’ll explain what that means. So many people that I’ve run across always talk about recipes or they show recipes and to me, I’ve developed recipes, I’ve been cooking for a very long time, and it’s not about the recipe, it’s about the event. It’s about when you’re outside doing a barbecue, what is the emotion that’s being created? What are the bonds that are being created? What are the memories that keep coming back from previous barbecues? That’s what barbecue is.
Recipes are simply a means to get to that point. They aren’t the end. The end is being at that point, being at that point of happiness, of love, of openness, and I can prove that to you because I have traveled to the largest American hospital outside of the U.S., which is in Landstuhl, Germany for four years, twice a year and unbeknownst to me, because I just wanted to go there and support our troops. I just can’t think of anything greater than that because without the military, without those troops, we’d have no freedoms.
I started doing that and what I found out about the third trip because I would try and get there somewhere around Christmas, somewhere around the Fourth of July, something that meant to people as a whole and to America, and about the third trip when I got there, a general actually and an officer of the clergy came up to me and said, “Hey Pat, these barbecues are helping and ministering to these kids far beyond what you realize”? They said for months and months afterward, they still talk about them.
What it was and what the clergy explained to me was that a barbecue is about family, it’s about love, it’s a gathering, it’s about oneness, it’s about camaraderie. I would see these kids when I first got there, and it would take about four or five days to put it together, not including the weeks prior to getting there, but I would see these kids that are wounded, missing limbs, missing body parts, PTSD, and psych wards, and they were forlorn. They were really into their world, they weren’t relating a whole lot to anybody, some of their closest friends maybe, but as I included them in helping make these barbecues a success, which I purchased a number of smokers there and donated them to the USO Warrior Center and also to The Fisher House, which was the very first barbecue, ... I included them, I saw them change.
I saw them slowly but surely opening up to each other because they had to work kind of together and smiling, and the day of the barbecue was a completely different scene than when I first got there. These kids were talking, smiling, happy, playing in a dunk tank that was provided for them for the barbecues. I mean, it was unreal and that’s all I wanted to do was bring a taste of home to these men and women, and even at that point, I didn’t know what was really happening until it was explained to me. A special Thanks goes out to American Legion Post GR01 for opening the doors to make this all happen
That’s why barbecue is not a cuisine, it’s an event and everything that I’ve tried to do since then is make every time I cook, when I had my shacks, mobile units and restaurant, when I did catering, was to make it an event. To make it something that was a talking point, that brought people together, that allowed them to open up and bond with each other. I think I was pretty successful at it.