|My Barbecue World
John Raven Ph.B.
Commissioner of Barbecue
I am a Texian and I do not take my barbecue lightly. I know more about barbecue than
I can make this statement without fear of contradiction as I was born and raised in Taylor,
Texas, home of “The Big Three” of barbecue joints.Of Louie Mueller’s, Mikeska’s Barbecue
and Taylor Café I can say I am on friendly terms with the owners of all three.
No one is born knowing how to barbecue. A person must have a passion to learn the
techniques involved or he/she is simply taking up space. I am self educated in the barbecue
field. I started with a simple grill made of a couple of old car rims and the grate out of a dead
I have worked my way up to being the Commissioner of Barbecue and hold a Ph.B.
(Doctor of barbecue philosophy) from Grease House University. I am the barbecue/grilling
expert for “Texas Cooking“, an online magazine devoted to Texas and Southwest style
I was a judge at the renowned Taylor International Barbecue Cook-off for 23 of it’s first
25 years in existence. I was head judge on several occasions.
I organized the International Barbecue Society. It was founded as “Texas Barbecue
Appreciation Society” but when out of state interest began to pour in I went International with
it. My intent in organizing the barbecue competitions was to get a uniform set of judging rules
put in place so the cookers would know what to expect at any given competition.
I wrote most of the barbecue cook-off rules that are being used today.
[ Author note: At the time I wrote the rules the North Texas Area Barbecue Cooks
Association was the largest barbecue cook-off organization going. They wanted to see if they
approved my my rules. They approved them down to the part where they used the same
misspelling of “cabrito” that I used.]
With my rules and a “How to” pamphlet I wrote; I assisted in the founding of over 50
cook-offs nationwide. Many of which are still in operation.
While writing for the “Goat-Gap Gazette” a chili cook-off newsletter I began to write about
the barbecue world in 1977. I was published on the subject of barbecue in “Southwest
Airlines Magazine” and “Tips from the pit” out of Boston.
I published the first barbecue cook-off newsletter, “The Barbecue Times” in March of
1981. I published 4 editions before the money ran out.
I produced the first legitimate world championship barbecue cook-off; my “ IBS
Tournament of Champions” The cookers had to qualify to get an invitation. The event was
held at Trader’s Village in Grand Prairie, Texas October 13, 1984.
The day went down in history as the day Trader’s Village had it’s largest single day rainfall
total and smallest crowd. Still the cook-off went on. Sam LeGear of Denton, Texas was the
first legitimate world champion barbecuer.
I produced three more world championship barbecue cook-offs. Another at Trader’s
Village, one at Uvalde, Texas and the final one at Temple, Texas.
In my spare time I produced the first “Women’s Only” barbecue cook-off at , where else?
Luckenbach, Texas the home of the Texas Ladies State Chili Championship. This was June
30, 1984 as a warm up for the Tournament of Champions.
I produced the first “Manufacturer’s Championship” for those who build barbecue
I was head judge for the first “Head to Head” barbecue contest held with the chili cooking
at Terlingua, Texas.
I put together the rules for the “Backyard Barbecue” series which was very popular for a
While head of the IBS I won a brisket cooking competition at Navasota, Texas which
featured several of the hot hand traveling barbecue teams. I wanted to show the world that
aside from talking the talk, I could walk the walk.. For a diversion I won the Margarita mixing
contest there also.
Recently someone asked me how I got to be Commissioner of Barbecue. My answer was
simple, “I’m the only person qualified to hold the position”.