The Pit Masters

The Pit Masters (Listed Alphabetically)

Pit Masters will participate as their schedule permits. For an exact list of instructors for any given class please contact us.

Jerry Aguilar

In less than 2 seasons since starting in 2012, Jerry Aguilar has racked up multiple awards which include winning the largest sanctioned BBQ contest in California History, Multiple Grand and Reserve Grand Championships, over 15 Top 5 Overall finishes, over 30 Top 5 category finishes.. Winner of the 2012 California Rookie of the Year title, 1st runner up for California Rib Team of the Year 2012, and the 2012 Fit2Go Tournament Grand Championship.




Sterling Ball

Sterling Ball is the owner of Big Poppa Smokers (BPS) and has become one of the leading internet providers for commercial rubs, sauces, smokers and BBQ accessories.  The Big Poppa Smokers product line of BBQ rubs has been a successful part of the Sam’s Club Invitational, Jack Daniels and American Royal championships; BPS won the American Royal Invitational in 2012. Team BPS has also been featured on the hit television series BBQ Pitmasters. BPS is currently ranked 12th in the Kansas City BBQ Association pork shoulder standings.




Kevin Bludso

Kevin started learning BBQ since he was nine years old as he spent every summer in Texas learning from his grandmother. After attending Bishop College on a football scholarship, he continued catering BBQ on the side while working at the Department of Corrections. In 2008, he opened his first restaurant, Bludso’s BBQ and in 2013, he helped open his second restaurant, Bludso’s Bar & Que. He has been featured on Fox, KTLA, ABC, the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and will be featured as the BBQ consultant on an upcoming episode of Bar Rescue.





Matt Brailey

Matt Brailey helped found the highly successful 155 South Bar-B-Q competition team.  Since inception, the team has won multiple Grand Championships and Reserve Grand Championships at contests across the state.  They have built their reputation on the success of their minimalist rib cooking process that has won the rib category at events with greater frequency than any team in California and ranks with the best in the country.

With 155 South, Matt has cooked at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.  This is the toughest contest on the planet with teams from all over the globe.  Invitations are only given to the best team on a per state basis each year.  Beyond that, Matt has adopted the unique attitude of sharing 100% of his cooking methodology with students.  What is most important to him is to help those interested in BBQ to quickly overcome the steep learning curve and rapidly develop the skills needed to wow their friends and family with delicious food.

He has been a consistent favorite among the presenters at regional barbecue classes and frequently mentors rookie teams.


Matt Dalton

Matt is the head cook and pit master for Left Coast BBQ (LCQ).  LCQ is the past 2010 Rookie of the Year Team and the 2012 Team of the Year for the California BBQ Association.  LCQ is currently ranked 6th in the country and with eight Grand Championships during this competition season;  LCQ has received an automatic invite to the Jack Daniels BBQ championship.





Donna Fong

Butcher’s Daughter BBQ is a one-woman team, headed by Donna Fong, and based in Alameda, CA. As a CBJ since 2004, she combines her passion for BBQ with knowledge of slaughtering, butchering and meat processing into a unified culinary experience.

Her father, Donald Fong, who has owned Don’s Meats in Oakland, CA for forty years, continues to be a strong influence in how she approaches the fundamentals of meat. During her 2011 rookie year, Donna traveled to competitions and events in her Toyota Avalon, packing everything she needed to cook four meats, including her two 18.5 inch WSMs. By the end of her rookie year, all four meats were cooked on a single WSM. For 2011, Donna ranked 6th in the California 2011 TOY race, third in the rookie race and first in the national Rancher’s Reserve race. She is currently ranked 1st in California for 2012. During “business hours”, Donna supports her CBJ-turned-Pitmaster habit by working as a molecular biologist at a Bay Area biotech company. She is a single Mom of a 8 year old competitive Kid’s Q’n daughter, and an avid Oakland Athletic’s fan.


Steph Franklin

Steph is an award winning BBQ pit master and owner of Simply Marvelous BBQ spices and catering company.   During the latter part of October 2012 season, Simply Marvelous BBQ began to take it to the next level competitively winning his first Grand championship.  Since that time Simply Marvelous BBQ has received two additional Grand Championships and two Reserve championships.





Ric Gilbert

Born from the “primordial ooze” of half used bottles of bbq sauce, spice rubs and blue smoke, Ric Gilbert knew at an early age he was destined to do one thing:  bbq.  This early awareness was supplanted by an urge to play with fire and food, resulting in various epic failures.

Undaunted, Ric pressed forward and has amassed over fifty cooking awards including:  a California Grand Championship, California Team-of-the Year for Chicken in 2009, and multiple People’s Choice awards. Ric won 14th place in ribs out of a field of 500 at the 2009 American Royal; commonly referred to as the “World’s Series of BBQ;” was the winner of the Iron Chef BBQ competition in Lodi;  and, along with Ryan Pang, is the current Champion of the Bay Area BBQ Throw Down.  Ric has appeared on or contributed to local and network television shows including Good Morning Sacramento, The Cooking Channel, The food Network and is featured in an episode of Mythbusters.

Ric was inducted into the California BBQ Association Hall of Fame in 2009.


Scott Hares

Barbecue Instructor Scott Hares started his low-and-slow BBQ career in 2001. Frustrated with less than stellar results he attended is first BBQ class in 2007 and the results from just that one single backyard barbecue class were dramatic.

Fueled by this success he formed the husband and wife team: Too Ashamed to Name BBQ and started competing in the professional competition BBQ circuit in 2008, and continues his higher education in BBQ by competing, testing, and attending classes from the biggest BBQ names in the country.

In 2012, Scotts team scored a total of THREE – California State Grand Championship wins – and an invitation to compete in the worlds biggest bbq competition – the American Royal Invitational and Open in Kansas City Mo – known as the World Series of Barbeque Competitions. Followed two weeks later by competing in the most prestigious BBQ competition in the world – The Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational BBQ in Lynchburg Tn, having won the draw to represent California at The Jack!

Scott started teaching backyard barbecue classes in 2011 featuring not only competition staples like ribs, chicken, pork and brisket, but backyard favorites too. His backyard favorites feature crowd pleasing grilled and smoked treats and appetizers that are sure to make any CBBQI graduate a back yard BBQ hero among friends, neighbors, church barbecue, tailgates or any other social gatherings. Come spend the day immersed in all things BBQ and grilling.


Adam “Huminie” Hollman

Adam “Huminie” Hollman is the Pitmaster of the award winning Huminie’s Hogalicious BBQ competition barbeque team out of Gilroy California. Huminie’s Hogalicious BBQ won the 2011 California Rookie Team of the Year title.Adam has been an avid backyard barbeque cook for over 10 years where he has cooked on a variety of styles of cookers.

Always looking for ways to improve his barbeque food, Adam perfected the art of barbeque and decided to try his hand at competition barbeque in the 2011 season. All the hard work paid off as last year his team won 2 Reserve Grand Championships, placed 4th overall in the state and took 3rd in Pork Ribs and Pork and 6th in Chicken and Brisket. The team was also ranked 74th in the nation by KCBS and finished 21st in ribs out of over 5,000 teams. Adam’s specialties include pork ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and tri-tip. He also has fun experimenting with his dutch ovens.


Chris Juencke

Chris Juencke, Pitmaster of Smokin Yankee’s BBQ was always drawn to BBQ. It started out as just back yard grilling on Friday nights little did he know how far his love for BBQ would take him.. After watching the All Star Showdown on TV he decided to branch out of the backyard, take a few classes, and see where this could lead him. After competing in his first competition in May of 2008 he placed 5th place pork and 7th place chicken for a 6th place overall (48 teams) he was instantly hooked.

BBQ became a way of life, an extreme passion. Since then he has won 2 grand championships and claimed 2010 Team of the Year in both ribs and chicken, but his greatest and proudest achievement came in 2009 at the American Royal Invitational where he walked for 4th place in brisket. In addition to competing Chris has also been a rib instructor for the CBBQA class and has served on the CBBQA Board of Directors for 2 years, along with participating in many charity events around his community.


Dana Myers

Dana Myers built his first charcoal fire to grill hamburgers in 1968, shortly before starting kindergarten in California’s Diablo Valley. The burgers were great, no one went to the hospital, and his parents didn’t catch him until nearly first-grade, thus starting a life-long passion for barbecue.

This really blossomed in the early 2000s when he impulsively bought an offset smoker, one thing led to another and Dana traveled to North Carolina to compete for the first time 2007 with the results being best described as “educational” (or “dead last” in less kind terms). In 2008, Dana returned to North Carolina to set the record straight, taking his first Grand Champion walk, in 2010 he co-developed a rib class now taught to over 400 people a year in North Carolina. Dana is very excited to be part of the CBBQA Backyard BBQ faculty.



Ryan Pang

Pit Master of Bad S. BBQ an Award Winning Competitive BBQ, Chili and Chowder team out of Sunnyvale and Professional Private Chef, graduated with honors and won the Service Award at The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY is happy to share his passion of BBQ, cooking, competition and good times.

Formerly in the trenches and the fire of the restaurants,  Pit Master Pang’s Bad S. BBQ hold the only Triple crown of Chili, at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Chili Cook off with Peoples Choice, Most Tasted and Judges Choice, Reigning Champion at Lambtown for the last two years as well as many other Chili, Rib and BBQ Cook offs . In 2011 Ryan Teamed up with HOF BBQ’er Ric Gilbert to Win the BBQ Throw down at the Oakland Coliseum. Ryan and his team was visited Ching-he Huang, a best-selling author, chef and host from the U.K. “Easy Chinese: San Francisco” on The Cooking Channel and Bad S. BBQ was chosen for an episode that featured food fusion between Chinese and BBQ.But most note-able about Bad S. BBQ is the backyard built smokers that Bad S. BBQ cooks at for competitions that are made from  early 1900′s GE Refrigerators mounted on top of wood burning stoves. Not your typical store bought or Internet ordered cooker, but Ryan of Bad S. BBQ knows that they could cook on anything…and cook it well.


Bryan Rice

Bryan is the keel of the Twisted Brisket BBQ Team and like a mad scientist concocts, twists, and blends the art and the science in making our products what they are.  Forming a family team allows for cheers, jeers and tears, and is ‘all in’ for the hard work, the fun and the rewards of this hobby on steroids.  Competing with two brothers and a Dad can be a challenge, but he’s always up for a good ribbing.





Rob Rice

Rob is the founding Pitmaster of Twisted Brisket BBQ.  The team isn’t about title’s but somebody has to be there to take the blame.  Being an avid backyard barbeque cook and watching two full seasons of BBQ Pitmasters the Twisted Brisket BBQ team was born and ready to rock everyone’s world…TV makes everything look so easy, right?

2013 was our first year competing as a Team and we had a few great successes and many learning opportunities.   Both students and teachers of the craft, we have built a great following in a very short time, people have lined up for over an hour to get a taste of what we think is pretty darn good BBQ.



Harry Soo

Slap Yo Daddy BBQ is the love child of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters Head Cook Harry Soo. Preparing a bucket list of wishes to do before kicking the bucket, he started competing in 2008. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Slap Yo Daddy BBQ, one of the top-ranked Kansas City BBQ Society teams in America, was chosen among over 5,000 professional teams to appear on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters Season One. In the Season Finale, SYD stunned the nation by defeating all the teams in the show including two BBQ World Champions in the winner-take-all Rib Throwdown in Texas. Awarded California Team of the Year 2010 & 2011; Arizona Team of the Year 2010 and 2011; 2010 Grand Champion in Langley, Canada; 2010 3rd ranked Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) team in the nation; 1st KCBS Ranchers Reserve Brisket Cup 2010; 1st KCBS Ranchers Reserve Beef Cup 2011; winner of 20+ Grand Championships including a history making 1st place in all four meat categories in the 2009 Way Out West BBQ Championship has proven this BBQ team knows their stuff.

He’s received many awards including Reserve Grand Champion in Kansas City in 2009 amid 162 of the best teams in the nation at the Great American BBQ and 50+ first place finishes in various categories and countless 2nd, and 3rd place finishes. Clearly, Slap Yo Daddy BBQ are masters at the grill, so you’ll just have to check Harry out for yourself at the


Andy Soto

Andy is the one-man-cook of Master of Disaster who began competitively cooking in 2007. During his years on the circuit, he has earned an invite to the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational and the American Royal Invitational. You can often see the veteran pit master under his Simple Green canopy or walking around talking to all the teams, new and old. In 2012, he was presented the Brent Walton Award, an award given to CBBQA members who personify the very best of what the CBBQA stands for – service, competition, and education.





Harry Stewart

An original member of our staff at CBBQA BBU. Harry Stewart own/operates Great American Barbecue Alameda, Ca., an award winning restaurant being listed 4 yrs in a row on The SF Chronicle’s Bargain bites list and is included in the  ”Who’s Who of BBQ”and listed as one of the” Best of the Best BBQ joints in America” and also has been featured on the CBS evening news and KTVU 2 live news. A CBBQA Member since 2007 he began judging then competing as Backstreet BBQ where he has racked up numerous awards and always seeems to talk a walk or 2 when competing. in addition he has  also mentored several rookie teams and is always available with a spin on things of with his own observations and philosophies.

Building on the CBBQA’s cornerstone of charitable work Great American Barbecue donates time and resources to a myriad of Charitable orgination both in and out of the CBBQA, these include Marine Corps Toys for Tots, HOF Football Players Association ,The Ted Hendricks Foundation, Alternative Family Services Annual Bay Area BBQ Champioships in conjuction with The Oakland A’s as a sponsor and presenter of live cooking demonstrations. An avid member of the NBBQA he has been a featured speaker and caterer at several of the of the most recent NBBQA conferences nationwide spreading the word for Santa Maria tri-tip and reperesenting California to many back east. Students have included many BBQ illuminaries such as  Mike Mills ” the Legend” 17 th. St. Bar and Grill, Famous Dave Anderson and “Sweet Baby Ray” himself  Dave Raymond, Hobson Cherry head pitmaster of the Shed in Ocean Springs , Miss., “Meathead” Craig Goldwyn of and Barry Sorkin Smoque Chicago.

Judging credentials include KCBS, Memphis Barbecue Network, IBCA. PNBWA.


Steve Wilson

Steve is the Pitmaster for The Pit Crew BBQ of SoCal. The Pit Crew started competing in 2011 and has four Grand Championships and three Reserve Grand Championships plus multiple category awards, including perfect scores at the 2012 Dana Point BBQ Championship and 2013 Lancaster Cowboy Up Rodeo. TPCBBQ has had a very successful end of the year in 2013, moving up to # 4 in California in overall points and top 40 in the Nation. On November 2, 2013 The Pit Crew BBQ of SoCal won the Grand Championship at the prestigious USA BBQ Championship in Laughlin, Nevada at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort where they won a 2014 Chevy Camaro SS.


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