What Would I Change About My First BBQ Smoker? – Mike Wozniak
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The following answer comes from Mike Wozniak from TEAM BAR-B-QUAU, winner of Jack Daniels 2010 World Championship (press release 2010 Jack Daniels Championship BBQ Grand Champion Press Release), 2010 Winner of the Kingsford Points Chase, and Winner of KCBS team of the year for 2010. As you can see, it was one impressive year for Mike and TEAM BAR-B-QUAU!
It’s a pleasure to have his response included as part of this one question interview question series about what he would do differently if he had to buy his first BBQ Smoker setup again. Be sure to check out the TEAM BAR-B-QUAU website, their Facebook page, and their featured BBQ Cooker manufacturer, Peoria Custom Cookers.
The first cooker set ups I had were all similar uninsulated offset cookers. While at a contest in N Kansas city in 2003, where it was fairly cold, I realized that most of the heat from my cooker was being wasted. Heat was escaping through the uninsulated fire box, and the unsealed gaps in the doors. That winter I undertook to modify my cooker so that the air flow through the cooker would be more efficient and to also insulate the firebox.
Originally, air could feed the fire from any direction at the back of the cooker. After modification the fire only got air from underneath the fire, the optimal direction. Feeding a fire from the top with air will eventually smother it out and coals or wood underneath will remain unburned.
I was able to insulate about 90% of the firebox, with double walls and ceramic isulation. The first time I used the modified cooker I was very impressed! It naturally wanted to cook about 275 degrees and I literally was only using 1/4 of the fuel I had been before the mods.
When I switched to the Peoria Custom Cookers, which I have used since 2006, we incorporated the same concepts in the firebox. The Meat Monster cooker from Peoria is available with what is called a “competition ” firebox, it is an option that is more expensive than the standard box but well worth it! It is almost an exact copy of the modification i made to my previous cooker, although we did make it bigger so you could do some grilling in it.
In addition to the firebox, Bill the owner of Peoria Cookers, decided to fully insulate the cook chamber also. The result is a cooker that can be burned very hot and uses very little fuel compared to other offset cookers. The advantage of all this is that the hotter and cleaner you can burn your cooker the better the bbq products that come off the cooker.
UPDATE: See responses we received from those interviewed here.
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