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The Hardest Day of my Life

BeefBadger

Newbie
4
9
Joined Jul 27, 2020
TLTR – The grill master is not the easy, glamourous BBQ job that everyone thinks it is. If you are hosting a cookout, more work goes into it than you think. Before leaving, ALWAYS tell the cook you enjoyed the food, that makes the whole day worth it.



This is a post that will probably hit a very specific nerve with a lot of men between the ages of 28-55. A little back story, I am 30 years old, and began washing dishes at a local country club when I was 16. I had that job throughout high school and college to make some extra beer and gas money. One day, when I was 17, the line cook went on a coke fuel bender and never showed up for his shift. I was promoted from dishwasher to fryolator worker that day, and that is when I fell in love with cooking. I love to cook all types of food. Last year the wife and I moved into our home in the suburbs, and for my 30th birthday, she bought me a smoker. This summer, I have been obsessed with smoking meats, and have been working on perfecting the perfect brisket.

This weekend we decided to have a social distance cook out for a group of our close friends and family. The night before, I went to the butcher and picked up a 9lb pork shoulder, two racks of ribs, two full chickens, and one pescatarian guest requested a piece of salmon. I brought the meat home after picking out each specific cut, trimmed up the pork, seasoned it, wrapped it in butcher paper and put it in the fridge overnight. I cleaned the rest of the house, got my things set up for the morning, and went to bed around midnight.

My alarm went off at 6am on the day of the cookout. I jumped out of bed and went straight to the backyard. I fired up the smoker and let it climb to 225. In the meantime, I took the pork out of the fridge, and seasoned the ribs (one with a honey and applewood seasoning and one with a traditional bbq seasoning) and I also seasoned the chicken too. The pork went on the smoker at 6:45am. I let the bark build until about 9am. At 9am, I spritz the pork with an apple juice/water combo, and did so every 45 minutes for the next few hours until it reached an internal temp of 168. It hit this temp around 12, at which point I pulled the pork, spritz it, mopped it with a BBQ sauce, wrapped it in butcher paper, and put it back on the smoker.

At this time, the ribs went onto the smoker. I went with the 3, 2, 1 method, so I let the ribs cook for 3 hours, mopping them as needed. I then pulled them, and did a brown sugar/margarine base for the honey applewood ribs. And I did a BBQ sauce for the other rack. I wrapped them in butcher paper, and back on the smoker for 2 hours. After 2 hours, I pull them out of the butcher paper and back on the smoker for the last hour.

When I put the ribs on the smoker, I made my salmon marinade. I used a soy/honey/garlic/red pepper flake marinade. I poured it on and let the salmon sit for about 4 hours in the marinade. I also began soaking my cedar plank at this time. Around 2pm I put the chicken on a beer can and put it in the smoker, mopping it with BBQ sauce along the way. Around 330pm I put the cedar plank onto the smoker to warm up, and then cooked the salmon on it for about 90 minutes.

The pork was done at 4pm, and rested for 1.5 hrs in my yeti wrapped in towels. The ribs finished at 430 and rested for 30 min. The chicken finished around 430pm and the salmon finished right at 5. The cooking started at 6am, and everything finished right at the perfect dinner time that I aimed for.

While I was cooking the meat throughout the day, I also needed to get the yard ready for guests. I mowed and weed wacked my entire yard the morning of the cookout. I refilled all my tiki torches with citronella fluid, I cleaned all of our yard furniture, I filled the fire pit with wood and I did a mosquito fog around my wood line to try to help keep the bugs at bay. I am in the Northeast, and this Saturday was 92 degrees and straight sun. So, needless to say, I spent the day DRENCHED in sweat.

Everything was on pace and going great. Around 3pm, although already exhausted, I jumped in a quick shower. I freshened up as our guest started to arrive. I set up our lawn tent for shade, put the hors d’oeurves on some serving trays and set up an appetizer station.

Now, let me stress, up until this point I was good. What I love about cooking putting in all the hard work and having people enjoy it. It makes it worth it. And I know what I signed up for when I volunteered to host, and I know how much work smoking is if you want to do it the right way. At this time, all was good, and I cracked my first beer of the day.

Fast forward to 5pm, dinner time. Now I have been sweating, running around, already changed into my 2nd shirt, and only had 1 beer. My guests have been lounging, but have been drinking at a very furious rate. Now let me be clear, if I wasn’t the one in charge of the food, I would have been the one leading the pace. With that said, the difference is, I know how much work goes into cooking for a group, so I would never give the grill guy anything but complements.

This is when my day changed. Up until now, I was EXHAUSTED. I weighed myself the next morning, I lost 4lbs that day, I think mostly to sweat. But I was happy, ecstatic even bc the food had gone well, nothing burned, nothing stalled on me, everything came out the way I wanted it and one time. That quickly changed.

As I watched people begin to eat, it was like a knife being stabbed in my heart. Let me preface this by saying, the majority of these people said they did not like BBQ that much, but all wanted me to make it bc they still “liked it, it just isn’t their favorite thing”. None of the guest told me it was bad, and maybe this is me overreacting, but I could tell by people’s reactions, and their “tips for making it better next time” (which were things like there was to much bark on the pork or the smoke ring penetrated to far. Complaints that literally are the opposite of what you want with good bbq).

Now, if for some reason you are still reading this, you probably are wondering why I care. I know it tasted good. I know all the flavor I used. I know the cuts of meat I hand picked. I know the pellet combo I used to get the perfect smoke flavor. I know it came out phenomenal, so why let people who don’t really like BBQ get to you so much. For reference, I am your typical 30 year old, suburban American man. I like to smoke meats, woodwork, play sports, workout, the typical guy. I also hold myself to a certain standard. I want everything I do to be perfect, and I want to be the best. I also want to be a strong man for my wife and our child. I want to teach my son how to be a strong man, like men used to be, and not a soy boy cry baby.

BUT – after it was all said and done, and all the guests left the cookout. I cleaned the backyard, put the fire out, took out the trash, broke down the tables and chairs, did the dishes and cleaned my smoker. It was about 930pm, and dark out. I was caked in multiple layers of dried sweat, and I stood under a cold shower, exhausted.

And at this moment, it was the closest I had ever been to crying in as long as I could remember. I actually found a tear starting to form until I caught myself. It was a feeling I had never felt before.

For the first time in my 30years, I put so much effort into something. So much hard work. So much sweat. So much research and hope and optimism. All to see none of it be appreciated. People came, they drank, they had fun, they somewhat liked the food but had plenty of things to say about it, and then they left. None of them knowing how crushed I was at the end of the day.

With all this being said – I’ve come to two conclusions.

  • I have a new born baby. I could not be more excited to be a dad. But I have this really troubling feeling that this is what the next 30 years of my life will be. Me, the man of the family, needing to be strong and hold things together for everyone, putting my all into things, just to have people not appreciate it. Maybe this is me looking back at all the times I took my parents for granite, and wondering if this is how my dad ever felt.
  • This is an easier, more straightforward rule that I will always live my life by now. No matter what, anytime I go to someone’s house, as always, I will try to brings things and help clean up etc. But moving forward, I will NEVER leave without seeking out the person who cooked, shaking their hand, looking them dead in the eyes, and telling them how much I enjoyed their food, even if it sucked. If one person had done that to me, it would have made the whole day worth it.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

BigW.

Meat Mopper
189
98
Joined May 13, 2019
Welcome to the site and congrats on the new baby! I say you nailed the cook. Several meats and all done when needed. That is impressive. You handled the day well. Too much smoke ring guy would have been quickly removed from my back yard. My only advice is do what makes you and your immediate family happy. Let the other stuff slide off your back.
 

JLeonard

Smoking Fanatic
366
235
Joined Apr 17, 2020
My folks taught me a long time ago that when someone hosted and fed you, even if it was just a bologna sammich you thanked them for feeding you and you didnt complain. If it was a get together like you set up, clean up and set up assistance was almost expected. Todays society just isnt geared to be that way anymore. It may just have been the folks you hosted.
 

Brokenhandle

Master of the Pit
★ Lifetime Premier ★
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Joined Nov 9, 2019
Sounds like you did an awesome job! Some people are just rude and hard to please, ask anyone in the restaurant business. Don't let it get to you. Congrats on the new baby! Sounds like you have your head screwed on straight, you'll do fine...think we all have fears of being a new parent, we all make mistakes along the way but raise them right and it will be ok.

Keep on smoking!

Ryan
 

jfsjazz

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
142
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Joined Jun 6, 2012
Sounds like you did an awesome job! Some people are just rude and hard to please, ask anyone in the restaurant business. Don't let it get to you. Congrats on the new baby! Sounds like you have your head screwed on straight, you'll do fine...think we all have fears of being a new parent, we all make mistakes along the way but raise them right and it will be ok.

Keep on smoking!

Ryan
Hey brother, this happens all the time and they will keep coming back, if invited. My bet is you did an awesome job!!! Sounds like you are already a GREAT Dad too!

BTW, one of my themes in life as a husband, father and grandfather is "expect nothing and you will never be disappointed". It has served me well - keeps me calm, especially in situations like you just described!!!
 

SmokinAl

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First if all, welcome to SMF!
In my opinion you did a phenomenal job on setting up a perfect party atmosphere.
It sounds like you nailed the Q as well. Having everything ready at the same time is something to be proud of & very hard to do. I also agree with you that when I eat at a friends house ( which I don’t do very often cause most of them can’t cook for crap ), I always compliment them on the food they cooked, even if it sucked. And we always help with the cleanup. Personally I would never go to that kind of trouble for those folks again. If they are good friends, just cook them some burgers & hot dogs, and get sh$3 faced drunk with them. I think we have all been in similar situations. My Grandson doesn’t like my ribs no matter how I cook them for him, he would rather have his ribs boiled then slathered with BBQ sauce & grilled. So that’s what we do when he comes. All the flavor is in the water that goes down the drain. Don’t beat yourself up over this. It sounds to me like you just need some new friends!
Al
 

JC in GB

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
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Joined Sep 28, 2018
I have come to find out, to my shock and disappointment that some people simply don't appreciate expertly prepared food. They are just as happy with a cold Oscar Meyer bologna sandwich as they are with a $400 filet mignon. It gets frustrating when someone doesn't even acknowledge all the hard work you put into something. It would be different if a fellow pit master was critiquing your Q as they would likely have technical tips that would actually be useful. Congrats on the new baby and here's to a happy and healthy childhood for your little one.

If you don't mind, I would like to share a similar story just to show you are not alone and there are a lot of ingrates out there.

My next door neighbor had an issue that required her to clean and rearrange much of her back yard. I had recently completed my wood fired stone oven and she has expressed interest in me making a pizza for her out of the oven. Being an avid cook, I thought it was a smashing idea.

She planned a yard clean up day and invited several of her friends over. I told her that I would make pizzas for everyone of her work group as a neighborly gesture to help out. It takes about 3 hours to get my oven up to temp.

I made the dough and sauce the night before. Got all the ingredients prepped and was all ready to go.

The next day, the work crew arrived and I started my oven.

Two hours into me firing my oven, a delivery pizza guy shows up at the neighbors house. I asked them what are you guys doing? I am getting ready to make you pizzas in a bit as soon as the oven is hot. I was pretty miffed at that to begin with but I thought that maybe they were really hungry and were going to eat again when I was ready. Nope.

I started cooking pizzas and told them to come and get some. Every single one turned me down and now I had pizza for 8 people and only myself to feed. I almost launched hot pizzas over the fence at them I was so angry.

I ended up having to throw some pizzas and ingredients away which really set me off as I hate to waste things.

Such ingratitude can never be forgotten. The people in that group will never get anything from my kitchen again, EVER!

One thing that helps is cook for yourself. It may sound selfish but if you know you did a great job the opinion of a Dunning-Kruger candidate in BBQ shouldn't phase you. I know when and how I screwed up even if folks are raving about the item.

Thanks for reading.

JC :emoji_cat:
 

BeefBadger

Newbie
4
9
Joined Jul 27, 2020
Thanks Guys! Happy to share my smoking success and failures here moving forward. Thanks for the feedback, usually i take these feelings, bottle them, and push them down as deep as i possibly can, like im sure the majority of us do, where someday it will eventually explode on some poor person, who was probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or ill be dead of a heart attack by 40...
 

adam15

Fire Starter
56
33
Joined Sep 21, 2016
Sounds like you did a great job and don’t let them break your spirits. I have only been smoking meats a few years but near the beginning I smoked a couple of butts for some friends. Everyone seemed to at least tell me they really enjoyed it except 1 guy. Needless to say the next time I got the group together to cook things I handed him a pack of hot dogs when he walked in and said he could use the grill whenever he was hungry. After that he got the point that a few kind words go a long way. Keep on smoking!
 

JC in GB

Master of the Pit
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Joined Sep 28, 2018
Sounds like you did a great job and don’t let them break your spirits. I have only been smoking meats a few years but near the beginning I smoked a couple of butts for some friends. Everyone seemed to at least tell me they really enjoyed it except 1 guy. Needless to say the next time I got the group together to cook things I handed him a pack of hot dogs when he walked in and said he could use the grill whenever he was hungry. After that he got the point that a few kind words go a long way. Keep on smoking!
I am going to steal your pack of hot dogs idea.. Brilliant!
 

R Blum

Meat Mopper
161
84
Joined Dec 19, 2017
I got a good little story about my neighbors, not a BBQ story put a kick in the ass anyways. The family was supposedly having a hard time and the wife told us that they had nothing in their refrigerator . My wife and I felt so bad we went to the grocery store and bought them a bunch of groceries. Nothing great just all the staples, milk, eggs, lunch meat (baloney) bread ect. We took it to them and the woman had the gall to say " oh John doesn't like baloney so we gave it to the dog". No that's not the end of the story. About 2 or 3 weeks later she was telling us that her and her husband went up to Traverse City Michigan for a wine tasting trip. She said it only cost them $700. I told my wife I would have felt better it John would have just kicked me in the balls.
 

daspyknows

Smoke Blower
88
49
Joined Jun 9, 2020
Congrats on the little one. People really suck sometimes. Sounds like you cooked a feast and if they didn't like it that is on them. Too much of a smoke ring, now I have heard everything. Not sure I would cook for that group again, they are not worthy.
 

SmokinVOLfan

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
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Joined Feb 27, 2018
Very well said man. Don't let some D-bags get you down after you busted your ass. There are just some rude unappreciative people out there who were brought up to think that's ok. I mean come on...too much smoke ring? And then no one stays to help clean up? Probably the type of people who drank all your beer too and then bitched because there wasn't more in the fridge even though they brought nothing. Keep on smoking man and congrats on the newborn!
 

Smokin' in AZ

Master of the Pit
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Joined Jul 13, 2019
Congrats on the new edition to the family!

And also for what sounds like a kick ass cookout.

Don't let them get to you, personally I would not invite them over again or if you do, as said earlier just do hot dogs and burgers, and kick back.

John
 

JC in GB

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
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Joined Sep 28, 2018
Congrats on the new edition to the family!

And also for what sounds like a kick ass cookout.

Don't let them get to you, personally I would not invite them over again or if you do, as said earlier just do hot dogs and burgers, and kick back.

John

I agree with John. Invite them back and serve skinless wieners with cheap chips on a paper plate with no condiments. That should send the message.

JC :emoji_cat:
 

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