Page 10 - May 2021 Barbecue News Magazine
P. 10

bbq profile
 T. Michael Garrison
The Flying BBQ Judge
  This month I will be profiling a
relatively new BBQ team that
has a stunning record of
achievements in the competi-
tion BBQ world. They marched
through the Backyard ranks rap-
idly and were very soon domi-
nating the BY contests by
virtually winning every event.
Although they had not been in
the BY ranks very long, they were strongly encouraged to make the leap up to the Pro level, and they did. However, they were walking on almost every event they entered and even earned some Champi- onships along the way. They surprised a lot of folks plus they rapidly became a contributor to this fabulous BBQ Family that I recognize so often in this column.
This is none other than Cooters-n-Smoke. The leader and Pit Master of this three-person team is Daniel Tomlinsen. He is joined by his wife Samantha and long time friend Kenny Shiflett. Daniel shared a very personal story with me but agreed to let me share it with my readers. When a baby turtle first comes out of their eggs, they are very active and doing everything they can do to make it to the open waters of the ocean. If that baby turtle should come out of their shell upside down their arms and legs are going 100 miles an hour but the turtle is going nowhere. Their legs are not making contact with the ground. This is known among fishermen as a Cooter. Daniel’s Father was a commercial fisherman. When Daniel was first born, in Lake Hamilton, he was on his back in the crib, in the maternity ward. Both arms and both legs were going full speed, but he clearly wasn’t going anywhere. His father took one look at his new boy and his first com- ment was “Look at that Cooter”. That nickname stuck with Daniel all through his school years and then some. He was simply known as Cooter for as long back as he could remember. He would point out that his name is Daniel but that didn’t seem to do much good.
So as his BBQ team gained some fame and success, he transferred his long-time nickname into the team name, Cooters-n-Smoke. His Dad was a pit master and grilled and smoked many of their meals in the back yard. Daniel took an interest in this from an early age. He re- members this became intense when he was about 12 years old. He began watching TV shows on BBQ and cooking. His first solo en- counter was their family’s Thanksgiving dinner. His first smoker was a Montgomery Ward’s smoker and he prepared pulled pork. He re- members he was up most of the night tending to his pork butt. He experimented with rubs, sauces and injections. Both his Mom and Grandma declared his pulled pork as great. He was hooked.
Daniel became the meat manager in the local Publix, thus gained knowledge and expertise in meats. He started doing some catering for Birthday Parties, Weddings, and gaining over- all experience with BBQ. He teamed up with Sam Saunders Backyard BBQ Team and his first competition was the Big Belly Up in Dav- enport, Florida. He was doing so well he was encouraged to form a competition team, which he did. His first contest, in 2015, was the Orange Blossom Revue in Lake Wales. He remembers very well that his Rib entry was DQ’d for a foreign object. That was a crushing
blow. However, his first Grand Championship in BY was at Ribs on the Ridge in Haines City, Florida.
Samantha, born in Davenport, where they still live today, remembers being involved with organizing BBQ competitions. She was involved with organizing the first Belly Up in Davenport. In this role she was getting to know the teams, the Reps and the Judges. Her Father grilled and smoked many of their family meals in their back yard. So she was exposed to BBQ at an early age. Later she opened up a Tea Room in Davenport and before long they were offering smoked meats on the menu. All of this made a big impression on Samantha. She even worked some with the team Downright Smokin, helping them prepare their turn in boxes and overall presentations. From here she learned a lot about competition BBQ.
About 7 years ago someone told her she needed to meet this guy named Cooter. She couldn’t imagine anyone named Cooter but later learned his name was Daniel. They met, developed a relationship, and she started contributing to the success of Cooters-n-Smoke. She is the sauce and rub person for the team and contributes to the meat preparation. About 2 years ago they were married. The green drum smoker, as seen in the photo, was a wedding gift from Sweet Smoke Q. It is their main smoker. She has really enjoyed the BBQ circuit, all the BBQ Family members she has developed relationships with. This has become a major element in her life. Samantha usually cooks up a dinner on Friday evenings and breakfast on Saturday morning at the BBQ events and many of the family join them for these meals. Kenny Shiflett is probably the foreigner on the team, he was born in Ft Lauderdale. He had a neighbor, when he was a kid of 10-11 years old, who became a father figure to him. Once a month his neighbor cooked a whole hog in his back yard and fed the neighborhood.
Kenny slowly got interested in the smoking and outdoor cooking principals. This evolved in the more intensive preparation and cook- ing of the whole hog, and he was slowly becoming entrenched in the world of BBQ. He couldn’t learn enough, fast enough, and became part of his neighbor’s BBQ operation. He started tagging along with competition teams and got to know a lot of people in the BBQ world, over a years’ time. His first competition was about 9 years ago, in - 10
MAY 2021

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