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Early Bird BBQ gets the ‘Que
Jun 06, 2011

The old adage, “The early bird gets the worm,” may hold true for some, but for Chris Early the saying could be tweaked to say “The early bird gets the ‘que.”

Competing in his sixth Great American Barbecue Festival, Chris’s team, Early Bird BBQ, was named the Kingsford Points Chase winner and finished fifth overall.

Chris, his wife Jana and their two sons, Jake and Nick, make up Early Bird BBQ and have been competing since 2005. They first joined forces with Flat Tire BBQ before starting their own team in 2006.

Like many other competitive BBQ’rs, Chris started grilling and barbequing at a young age. His family members were often his guinea pigs for what he refers to as his “unsuccessful experiments.”

Chris started competing after his neighbor Dan invited him to a competition he was competing in at the Kansas Speedway. He was instantly drawn to the sport and borrowed Dan’s smoker so he could compete at the Johnson County Cookoff in Warrensburg, Mo. The team received a call in chicken and ribs and they were immediately hooked. Later that year, they bought their own cooker – a Lang 84.

Chris loves to compete and says that his favorite competition is “the one I’m at, at the time, or the next one.” The team competes in 12-15 contests every year, mostly concentrating on the Kansas City area where the family resides.

Their most memorable win came in June 2008 at the Big Blue BBQ in Marysville, Mo. where the team won their first grand championship. Another memorable contest was the 2006 American Royal. It was Chris’s first time competing at the prestigious contest – and the team finished fifth overall and 11th in brisket.

Chris’s favorite competition category is ribs, which also happens to be his favorite category to eat.

Now that his days of “unsuccessful experiments” on the grill are behind him, Chris offered this nugget of wisdom to Grilling.com readers … “A clean grill is a happy grill.” He says to always clean your grill before each use and suggests brushing it with oil before cooking any meat.

In between BBQ contests, the Earlys do what they can to help out their neighbors. Most recently, the team headed down to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo. to cook BBQ for the workers and tornado victims.

Catch Chris and the Early Bird BBQ crew at their next competition in Lenexa, Kan. at the great Lenexa BBQ Battle on June 24.

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