Big Papa’s Basic BBQ Sauce

by Dana ‘Big Papa’ Hillis

It used to be easy. When you showed up to BBQ, you could look around and say to yourself, “I just have a few guys to beat if I have a good cook.”

Big Papa’s has never taken for granted that we were able to beat anyone. We are very humble and know you have to cook extremely well, turn in some very good food AND have the luck of there being some judges that are not afraid to give some good scores to be able to come out near the top.

Rob “Rub” Bagby of the infamous Swamp Boys rolled into Ft. Pierce late Friday with a goal of climbing back on top. It was his birthday, and all he wanted was a Grand Championship. By golly, he got it!

Rub has switched to some new cookers and seems to have them figured out. The truth behind his success is a great team of supporters, including the Swamp Girls and, of course, Super Corn Woody. He also has a new mascot (a little gator named Swampy) that now has a bounty on its head for whoever can kidnap it and bring it to Big Papa.

Terry McKay’s Git-R-Smoked team is one to beat. He always has one of the nicest trailers, takes more showers and naps than anyone, finally figured out there is bad mojo when you don’t buy pizza, and has cooked with some of the best fellers in BBQ. He has passed on some secrets to some teams that have done very well. Besides all that, the guy can cook!

Forrest Fine Foods is a threat to win anywhere he goes. He can show up with a horse trailer and any one of the hundred cookers he owns, or can show up in a mini van so small his cowboy hat rubs the windshield AND the back window, toting only a WSM (Weber Smoky Mountain) and still out-cook everyone! He can bring a big horse trailer with the most awesome collection of crockpots anyone has ever seen, feed an army and still walk away with a truckload of awards. However, he has one weakness: if you take away his pink shirts, hats, drink cups, pink logos and pink BBQ boxers, he is just an average cook.

Jady Hill’s Florida Boys could win every contest he entered...if he really wanted to. The big guy has cooked in (and forgotten more) contests then most of us added together. Jady is not really old, he just started cooking when he was 10. He is truly one of the most enjoyable guys to talk BBQ with, and I highly recommend stopping by and visiting him at any contest he attends.

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Big Papa’s Basic BBQ Sauce


• 3 cups ketchup

• 1/2 cup honey mustard sauce

• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 cup brown sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

• 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon chile powder

• 4 tablespoons molasses

Cooking Instructions:

If you like sweet – add honey. If you like hot – add Louisiana hot sauce.

Cook in a pot on your stove, stirring all ingredients until they boil.

Then put into a pan and put it in your smoker while cooking some meat for three or four hours for a true smoky flavor.

Will keep in the refrigerator for 4 months.

(story continued from above)

If he gets tired of talking BBQ, ask him about his business ventures with Wendell (his longtime BBQ partner). They have sold Christmas trees, coffee cups and Easter Bunny fishing poles. Wendell has even sold me a few BBQ secrets. These guys are as cool as they come, and I would love to cook with them sometime. Hot Wachulas is hard to beat. He has brought me tons of sauces with unique flavors to try, and he blows me away with his flavor profiles. He is going to win ribs every time he shows up. If Wally from ZooyMamas shows up with him, we don’t have a chance. I have only found one way to throw him off his game – steal all his electronic cigarette batteries. Also, if his phone goes dead, he is lost! (I think he keeps his recipes in his phone).

Blitzkrieg BBQ has proven to be one of the best teams in the FBA and is having an awesome year. We all know his big secret to success (his son Gavin – the #1 spy in all of competition BBQ). Gavin is one of the nicest kids you will ever meet, but if the truth ever comes out, we will discover he works for the FBI or the CIA. The one contest Gavin and his mom did not attend was Tommy’s worst performance of the year. We just need to keep Tommy cooking by himself!

Wooly Bully BBQ Mafia is a threat to win each time they show up. Damon never travels without Pops, and the two have some magic going on. The only thing I’ve ever seen that slows these guys down a notch is when they happen to do double backflips off the back of their new trailer. Pops did a flip off the back of the trailer at a recent contest, but they did not win. A short time later Damon did a few basic ballet moves off the back deck and won a trip to the dentist. Damon is like Matt with Hot Wachulas – he is a flavor monster and always hard to beat.

Team Unknown has made a rapid climb to the top. It used to be the only thing you had to worry about when these guys showed up was who was going to make more noise – them or Whiskey Bent. They have figured out how to lure people to their camp and mesmerize them with great entertainment and laughing real hard (or maybe partaking in a few rum and Mountain Dews or Silver Bullets). If these guys cooked every week they could win every event.

But, I’ve found their weakness – finger mullet! Clean out your old tackle boxes, and bring some old bait by the Unknown BBQ camp to see what I mean. You will fall in love with them just like me and everyone else.

Bill Tanner’s B&T BBQ Cook Team is the only team that has been winning as of late that I can’t seem to find a weakness in. They do well north or south in Florida. They win in Georgia and Alabama. Bill had a little surgery on his shoulder a while back, and when I patted him on the shoulder, he hollered like I’d killed him, before quickly laughing and telling me he was just kidding. Maybe if we all whack him in the shoulder a few times we can slow him down a bit.

Team Budmeister is a tough team. Thomas and son Josh are like family to me. When they show up, perfect scores are just around the corner. The truth behind their great cooking skills is that Thomas’ momma is one of the best cooks alive. He is lucky some of it rubbed off on him. (Try her banana pudding pie to see what I mean).

But, I have figured out how to beat these guys. I just need Woods ‘n Water to print something that would convince them that deer season is open every weekend of the year, and they would never show up at a BBQ event again (and take Gordon from GB’s BBQ with them).

To beat Jack’s Old South (and his chip-off-the-old-block Jack’s New South) all I have to do is keep them busy smiling for the television cameras and signing autographs by sending people over to talk to them. These fellers love to talk, which allows me to throw them off their game just enough to beat them by a tenth of a point!

There are a lot more tough teams to beat, but I have run out of space. Come to a contest to meet some of these great folks.

How about a nice little homemade BBQ sauce? I have played around with a million BBQ recipes, but this one is simple and can be the base for your own experiments!

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