Sunday, October 11, 2015

RGV Profile: J. D. Davidsmeyer

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Smokin' Aces North Barbecue adding Pitmaster J.D. Davidsmeyer to their team in order to offer some of the best barbecue in the Rio Grande Valley. Yes, you can go have some drinks at the bar; but, you absolutely must have a steak while you're there. Today, we are going to focus a little bit on the Pitmaster himself, J.D. Davidsmeyer.

The question is, how does one become a Pitmaster? We all fancy ourselves great barbecue makers. We all have some technique to give us fairly edible barbecue, whether it be a barbecue sauce, a marinade, a rub, smoke, or some other trick to try to make the meat taste good. Does that make us Pitmasters? No. You don't just declare yourself a Pitmaster. To be a Pitmaster, you have to win competitions, consistently.

What we are talking about is the difference between puttering around the driveway with your skateboard and winning skateboarding competitions with cash prizes. It's the difference between playing 18 holes with your friends over some beers and winning the PGA circuit. It is the difference between grilling for your family on the weekend and winning on the competitive barbecue circuit. Yes, it's a thing.

It's not enough to simply compete on the competitive barbecue circuit. You have to win, and then win some more.

This is why J.D. Davidsmeyer is a barbecue Pitmaster. The man has competed and won repeatedly. He has paid his dues by competing and going home empty-handed on more than one occasion. He worked his way up and finally is able to compete to win or place in one of the top levels.

Humble Origins

J.D. Davidsmeyer's first introduction to barbecuing was. like most of us, the family barbecue. He would help his father around age 14 and eventually took over the grill for family events. It was his family who first suggested that he enter into barbecue competitions. J.D. first teamed up with a neighbor to compete. He admits that for the first six years, he had team members come and go. For the most part, they would drink and goof off, yielding them exactly zero wins.

After six years, something changed. J.D. decided that he needed to start winning competitions. His game plan got serious. He started learning all he could about methods, meats, and the competitive circuit. He also found a mentor who helped J.D. learn how to be a Pitmaster. Specifically, his mentor taught Davidsmeyer how to run a team, how to be humble, how to be a family-oriented cooker, and more importantly, how to be a competitive cooker. Their relationship lasted 8 years until cancer took his friend.

All the work paid off. After six years of losing, Davidsmeyer's first win was at The Battle of Medina in San Antonio, where he took first place. After that first win, it was easier to win ensuing competitions, or to at least place in the Top 5. His experience has also taught him a variety of foods to make on the grill, such as pizza, vegetarian, cake, and other things you would not normally associate with barbecue.

After reaching success in the competitive barbecue circuit, J. D. Davidsmeyer's family encouraged him to try getting on TV shows. He eventually landed on the BBQ Pitmasters TV show, from which he gained much notoriety.

The Present Day

These days, J. D. Davidsmeyer is working the kitchen at Smokin' Aces North and doing other things that revolve around barbecue. For example, he likes to volunteer to cook for veterans organizations and even teaches barbecue classes over the weekend. The only non-barbecue activity he enjoys is riding his Victory motorcycle on his own or with his motorcycle club.

Given his work obligations, J. D. does not compete as much as in the past. However, that doesn't mean he's not working his craft. He puts his best into every plate he serves up in the Team Xtreme kitchen inside Smokin' Aces North. You don't have to follow the barbecue circuit to find some of the best grilled meats. All you have to do is stop by Smokin' Aces North to have a taste of real Pitmaster fare.
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