Credit: Famous Dave's
Editor's note: This article was sponsored by Ascend Hospitality Group.
Along with the chattering birds and budding trees signaling the arrival of spring, there is another truly telltale sign that warmer weather has finally arrived. And that is the scent of delicious smoked and grilled meats permeating the air. May is National BBQ Month, and we are here for it, so pass us a bib and stand aside!
In honor of this mouthwatering monthlong holiday, ParentMap seized the opportunity to reach out to Lili Edwards, general manager of Famous Dave’s in Tukwila and a true BBQ authority, to share her story and great tips for celebrating all things BBQ.
What is your BBQ/Famous Dave’s story?
Famous Dave’s BBQ has been a part of my life for more than 21 years. I started off learning all of Dave’s best BBQ secrets working as a prep cook in Midville, Utah. I was instantly drawn to the Famous Dave’s culture. Always eager to learn more about how the restaurant works, excitement was an understatement when I was given the opportunity to advance in the restaurant. I accepted a position as kitchen supervisor, shortly thereafter as kitchen manager, and now I am a general manager here in Tukwila.
My passion for Famous Dave’s has only deepened after 20 years. I have been lucky to witness the growth of the company, and I have grown alongside it. Through the core values of our parent company, Ascend Hospitality Group, our Famous Dave’s teams always make sure we are involved with the community. Whether that is by making donations to hospitals, catering for the Seattle Seahawks or our food truck at a Kenny Chesney concert, there is always something different and exciting here at this backyard BBQ.
What types of cooking methods does the Famous Dave’s BBQ team specialize in?
At Famous Dave’s, we specialize in grilling, roasting, baking and smoking.
Grilling: We grill our St. Louis-style ribs until the membrane is ready to be pulled apart from the bone. We then bring them to the perfect char after being caramelized with our award-winning Rich & Sassy BBQ sauce.
Roasting: Right after our Country Roast Chicken is baked, we place it on the grill for the perfect “flame kiss” char.
Baking: Every two hours, our ovens are full, baking our famous corn bread muffins. After they come out of the oven, we add our Famous touch, which is our secret, homemade honey glaze.
Smoking: I am very proud of our smoking process. We ensure that all of the proteins we receive from vendors meet our standards. Our managers use the “FAT” test to determine when the core proteins are truly “Famous”: Flavor, Appearance and Texture. Our proteins are slowly smoked for 4–8 hours. When they pass the FAT test, we know that they are ready to be pulled out of the smoker.
What makes Famous Dave’s BBQ unique — in terms of the food, the experience?
BBQ is one of the American classics. It takes time, patience and consistency to achieve the perfect recipe. Famous Dave’s takes pride in our smoking procedures, striving to achieve that perfect flavor profile that makes us unique. The hickory wood we use for smoking gives our proteins a red smoke ring that is visible along the edges, resulting in a mouthwatering experience for BBQ lovers.
I truly believe that BBQ is a comfort food. Humans love to venture outside to BBQ their food in the thick summer heat, and it results in the perfect opportunity for social engagement. For us, every day is like having a BBQ in your backyard. We want to give our guests this same feeling of comfort and happiness when they are eating our food.
Founder “Famous Dave” Anderson turned a metal garbage can into his first smoker as a kid growing up in Chicago. To honor this, we continue to serve our feasts on a trash can lid. After 21 years working here, I still enjoy seeing people’s reaction for the first time when they see the plethora of food come out!
What is your favorite Famous Dave’s menu item?
After working with this company for so long, I have had my fair share of Famous Dave’s BBQ! But there is one item on the menu that I truly believe I could eat every day: From my first bite, I fell in love with our homemade, award-winning bread pudding. It is covered with a pecan praline sauce and served with a side of vanilla Ice cream — it’s the perfect dessert!
Why do you think BBQ is such an American obsession?
BBQ needs time and attention to achieve perfection. Patience, tenacity and love are at the center of BBQ. Striving for that perfection creates an obsession. Transforming a hunk of meat into a smoky, tasty treat gives an unexplainable feeling of satisfaction. There are no limits or rules to smoking or exploring the variety of rubs and sauces that will make your BBQ perfect.
What is your personal BBQ obsession?
My personal BBQ obsession is our beef brisket. We hand-rub brown sugar for a caramelized flavor, followed by our homemade brisket rub. The brisket is smoked for two hours, reaching 165 degrees, then taken out, wrapped in foil, and then smoked for four extra hours or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. Although this is a lengthy process, the result of the finished brisket is what a pit master would call perfection.
Can you share any tools of the trade for home cooks who want to up their BBQ game?
There is no secret tool, there is just a passion for BBQ. “The best never rest.” Everyone needs to believe in themselves as I did 21 years ago. Finding your perfect recipe and mastering being on the grill is not easy. It takes patience, drive and consistency. But BBQ is a labor of love that is always worth the wait.
Any suggestions for how families can celebrate National BBQ Month?
If they don’t own a grill or they don’t have time to BBQ, Famous Dave’s invites every family to celebrate National BBQ month by having a BBQ experience at our locations in Tukwila and Tacoma, especially on Mother’s Day! I promise they will feel like they are having their own BBQ. Ordering from our catering menu is a great option as well. Enjoy that backyard BBQ experience but leave the hassle of cooking to us!