Page 9 - April 2021 Barbecue News Digital
P. 9

bbq profile
Mike Garretson
 T. Michael Garrison
The Flying BBQ Judge
  This month’s profile is a very
special one for me, in many re-
spects. This individual has been
giving back to competition BBQ
for over 20 years as one of KCBS
top Reps, as well as a top Master
Certified Judge. Not only is he a
Mike but he spells his last name
almost the same as mine. We
have had a lot of fun through the
years with the similarity in our
names. I have such a high respect
for Mike Garretson and admire all
that he has given back to BBQ.
When I see his name on the Rep
list for a contest, I rest assured
the event will be well organized,
will run smooth, and all too often
unexpected problems will simply disappear with Mike at the helm. Mike remembers his childhood in California where his Dad frequently cooked over open fires with a grill. Nothing special but always very good steaks, burgers, dogs and other basic backyard barbeque. Looking back after a long career in the competition BBQ scene Mike is sur- prised he always looked forward to these very simple meals, cooked outside over open fires, from his childhood.
Mike was born in Richland, Cali- fornia, and raised in Petaluma. He attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo where he earned a degree in engineering, also parallel to my two engineering degrees. He was in ROTC and was commis- sioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army upon graduation. An- other similarity except the US Navy put me through the Univer- sity of Kansas and I was in the Regular NROTC program there, and was commissioned an Ensign upon graduation. So we have nu- merous similarities in our lives. Mike flew helicopters, which in- cluded tours of duty in Viet Nam.
He completed Test Pilot School and his Army career took him to Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Central Amer- ica, Paris and Rome. He retired from the Army in 1993 as a Major. His last duty assignment was in Orlando and he has been there ever since. In 1980 he was stationed at Ft Rucker, Alabama, attending Helicopter school. While there he was exposed to Southern Style Chicken and Pork and at- tended one of his first contests in Folson, Alabama. In 1985 he was stationed in Texas and was introduced to the Texas style Brisket, which was really special to him,
Mike’s first exposure to serious BBQ was in 1996 at a con- test in Daytona Beach. He was not a certified judge, just an interested person attending the contest. He met Carolyn and Gary Wells who talked him into attending a judge training class. This led to him becoming a certified judge. In those years all the competition contests in Florida were sanctioned by Memphis in May. They had three categories, Whole Hog, Ribs, and Pork, and he would typically judge two of those three. He was hooked and couldn’t get enough of competition BBQ, and particularly judging this top qual- ity meat. Some of his early mentors included Johnny Trigg and Myron Mixon. Certainly not a bad way to get started. In
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