The roots of Bustin' Loose BBQ can likely be traced way back to the mid 1960's, but I wasn't aware of it at the time. My intention is to turn my love and appreciation for barbecue away from the normal hotdog, hamburger and steak routine on the grill and to bust loose toward a new level of outdoor cookery, which turned out to be smoked food with wood and charcoal I had a familiarity with smoked food that led back to when I was 10 or 11 years old. Every Saturday my parents would go grocery shopping and return with a large batch of smoked kippers. For those not familiar with them, smoked kippers are a traditional Scottish fish item. Anyway, I was a fanatic for the smell and taste of all smoked foods even at that age, and the kippers especially, would just fill the house with a wonderful, heady smoke aroma when we cooked them up. This weekend love affair with the smoked kippers went on for a number of years until the time when I foolishly pigged out on 6 whole fish and, in the aftermath, virtually destroyed my taste for smoked foods for a long, long time. When I finally was able to muster up the urge to try smoked foods again, it all came back to me. My aversion to smoked foods was over, but I did learn a very important lesson about cooking and eating, a lesson that I have never forgotten - enjoy in moderation.
From that point onward, I slowly began to work on my cooking technique with both gas and charcoal cookers. My first unit was a Brinkman gas-fuelled water smoker which I have since passed on to my brother-in-law, and he reports that it is still in great working order, blowing out puffs of flavourful smoke and creating great BBQ. Maybe at this point I should make note of this little habit I have. You see, that cooker that I passed on to my brother-in-law is one of the few that have gotten away from me. Between those I have bought and have won, I currently own 17 barbecues/ smokers/grills of all makes, models and sizes. Some are simple burger grills, while others are capable of smoking up huge batches of ribs, pork shoulders, whole pig, and another can handle upwards of 50 whole rotisserie chickens at one time.
 
Competition Cooking

The move from intense backyard barbecue enthusiast to that of a competition cook came about through contacts made via the Internet. With my interest in barbecue, it was only natural to search the Internet for recipes, tips and, of course, like-minded people who might be nearby. Eventually, I found a group of Southwestern Ontario BBQ enthusiasts who were starting the Canadian Barbecue Smokers' Association, based out of Brantford, Ontario. As they initiated a forum for people to meet and discuss a mutual interest in all things barbecue, I quickly found others sharing my passion and it wasn't long before posts to the forum led to private emails. These Internet contacts soon led to in person gatherings and before I knew it, I was part of a barbecue team!
Dubbing ourselves "Hi! I Que BBQ Team," my four new teammates and I made our entry into the world of competitive barbecue in May of 2001 at a KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society)event in Buffalo, New York, called the Buffalo Stampede. It was at this event that I took the KCBS judging class so that I could learn just what they were looking for in competition barbecue as opposed to what I was doing, and enjoying, at home. Both the competition and the judging class were real eye openers, but we had a lot of fun that rainy weekend, and I vowed to keep trying and learning to create better BBQ at home and at competitions. The Hi! I Que BBQ Team did two more events during the summer of 2001, getting better each time out, even earning two 1st place awards at the Brantford Summerfest in August of 2001! However, as was inevitable from the start, with only 3 or 4 categories per contest, there weren't enough entries to allow for everyone on the team to contribute their efforts. This led to the teammates moving on to head up their own teams, or to move away from the competition aspect of BBQ and into creation of successful catering companies.

When 2002 rolled around, I knew I wanted to keep on competing and maybe even try my hand at catering or fundraising or, quite simply, grab onto any opportunity to promote barbecue in Canada, and Toronto in particular. With Hi! I Que in the rearview mirror, it was time to start out on my own to do what I intended to do since those mid 60's efforts to expand my cooking universe. Yes, it was time for me to be Bustin' Loose.......

Since the spring of 2002 there have been a number of people who have been a part of the Bustin' Loose efforts, some for one contest or charitable function, others for multiple events and contests. We've turned out some wonderful barbecue and some, by my own admission, that suffered from lack of sleep on my part or a neglected cooker while I was off talking BBQ with a visitor or fellow competitor. Fortunately, as a visit to our Awards page will show, we do manage to get it right far more often than not.

It has been my wish to be able to pass along whatever knowledge I can in respect to wood/charcoal fuelled low n' slow smoking with the hope that you will come to find the same enjoyment in this hobby/sport that I have experienced over the past 20+ years.

Earl Whyte
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