An Interview with LC BBQ

In episode 3 of BBQ321 Pit Master Interviews, Phil and Carmen share their experiences of being on the TV show Barbecue USA and participating in the American Royal contest. Having enjoyed a successful year in cooking competitions, including a first-place win in the open category at the Jack, the duo delves into their journey into the competitive BBQ world. Both Phil and Carmen discuss their custom rubs and injections, the role of product sales and sponsorships in their income, and the importance of tenderness and quality ingredients in cooking different meats. They also touch on their approach to ancillary categories in competitions and advise newcomers to the BBQ sport to keep it fun. The episode wraps up with anticipation for their upcoming appearance on the American Royal BBQ USA episode and high hopes for their son, Reid, in the realm of competitive BBQ

[This interview has been edited for length and clarity]

In the world of competitive barbecue, few names are as respected as LC BBQ. At the helm of this award-winning team are Phil and Carmen Breeden, a dynamic duo whose passion for barbecue is as infectious as their food is delicious. The Breedens opened up about their journey, sharing insights into their techniques, their love for the community, and the secret sauce that makes LC BBQ a cut above the rest.

BBQ321: Can you share a bit about your background and how you got into competitive barbecue?

PHIL: Sure, I've always enjoyed cooking, especially at deer camps with my buddies. One day, a friend suggested we should enter a barbecue competition. I didn't even know such things existed! We ended up participating, and even though we didn't place in chicken or ribs, we won first place in brisket. That win really changed the course of my life. It started as a hobby, but by 2018, I was cooking every weekend. What began as three consecutive weekends turned into 37, then 85. It was hard work, but I loved every minute of it.

BBQ321: How has your year been so far in terms of competitions?

PHIL: Our year has been great in terms of competitions. We've had several wins and even when we don't win, we're usually in the mix. We're currently trying to get back to the Jack [Daniel’s Invitational] competition.

BBQ321: Carmen, how did you get involved in the barbecue world?

CARMEN: I got involved in the barbecue world through Phil. I started as a dishwasher and gradually learned more about cooking. I now compete in competitions under my own team, Chicken on a Chain.

PHIL: She’s beat me, twice!

BBQ321: When did you start doing competitive BBQ as your full-time job?

PHIL: It's been just over two years. We do competitions, we develop products, and we bring 'em to market and share 'em with the barbecue world.

BBQ321: Competitive BBQ every weekend can get pretty expensive, how do you make it all work so you can focus on BBQ full-time?

PHIL: We do a lot of competitions. Basically every weekend, we're at a competition. But, if we were dependent on our winnings, and we win a lot, we couldn't keep the lights burning. If you can break even in competition barbecue, that's a win. Because that's 50 weeks, a hundred-plus days of advertising for your products, and product development time. Most of our income comes from our product sales and some from sponsorship. You have to have all those things pulled together to make it work.

BBQ321: What's the one thing you wish someone had told you when you were starting out in barbecue competitions?

PHIL: I would say make sure and keep it on the fun level. At the end of the day, it's a big barbecue family, and we're having fun seeing each other every weekend. I couldn't do it every weekend if it wasn't fun, so make sure it's fun.

Listen to the complete episode for an in-depth look at their passion for the craft of barbecue on the BBQ321 Pitmaster interview podcast.