BBQ Boot Camp Instructor Mike Davis

How come you get to teach a barbecue class?

I'm a competitive barbecue cook. Our corporate name is Lotta Bull, my wife Debbie and I, and we travel around to compete.

You'll come in for the Sevierville Bloomin' Bluegrass and Barbecue festival from...?

We live in Oklahoma, but between now and then I'll go to California and do three contests in three days, then back to Richmond, Va. for another contest, on to cater a party for a steeplechase in Nashville, then to a cookoff in Pulaski, Tenn., then here.

Is that more contests than the average competitor?

When I was doing this and still had a separate full-time job, I did 35-40 contests a year. Now this is all I do and I can do more.

You can't tell students exactly what spices you put in sauces and rubs, can you?

No, I really do. I really can. Well, not every single thing. In the class, we do show people how to make a basic rub with ingredients readily available on store shelves, or how to buy a pre-made rub and tweak it if you like.

Do you get ingredients from local stores on the road?

When we can, we shop a lot from Whole Foods. It's a little pricey sometimes, sure, but the quality trade-off is worth it. For our beef and pork, we have corporate sponsors.

That sounds like NASCAR...

We did six NASCAR events this year, and it's been a great promotion for us and for our sponsors.

How do you get around?

We always travel by RV, with our two miniature schnauzers. They don't know they're not humans, haven't got a clue.

Do you fix barbecue as you ride along?

No, no, can't do that. All the barbecue has to be prepared at the cookoff.

BBQ Boot Camp May 12-14, registration closes May 5; for more info, visit