079 Andy Groneman – Kansas City Style BBQ

Kansas City Style BBQ

079 Andy Groneman -
Style BBQ


This is Episode Twelve of Season Six, my U.S. Road Trip Part II. There is one world champion BBQ’er who has done so much to grow the BBQ scene in Australia that we should just make him an honorary Australian. And that man is Andy Groneman, Pitmaster of Smoke On Wheels Competition Team. Born and bred in Kansas City, Andy preaches KC Style BBQ around the US and indeed the world. And so he was the perfect person for us to get a lesson in what makes KC BBQ so unique.

With summer coming up, it’s time for a new favourite t-shirt, and I’ve got just the thing. Drawing inspiration from the iconic BBQ pop culture art by Gil Elvgren, the Hail Mary T is black, like all good BBQ shirts should be, comes in both men’s and women’s cuts in a variety of sizes and of course feature Mary, who likes her BBQ smokey, spicy and just a little bit naughty. Check her out now!



Dragon’s Breath Charcoal is premium Australian Gidgee Lump Charcoal. Launching soon in October 2019!

Rubs, Sauces and Finishing Dusts, Harvey’s Kitchen has everything you need to take your cook to the next level!

Smokers, Asados and Custom Fabrication, JAGRD Woodfired can do it all. The one-stop-shop for all your smoker needs.

Here at SHC, we have the hottest line of merch out there. We got you covered with our range of caps, shirts, tumblers and stickers! Items are available singly or in various bundles to save you some cash. Check them out now!



  •  The last thing that he BBQ’d was chuck short ribs
    • He loves coffee chipotle rub on the ribs (his own rub)
    • He goes heavy with that rub
  • He’s got three grills in rotation
    • YS640 – his go-to daily
    • YS1500 – big cuts
    • Hasty Bake is his charcoal grill go-to
  • Hasty Bake is made in Tulsa, Oklahoma
    • They’ve been made since the 1940’s and have a cult-following
    • The pit that he learned on was a Hasty Bake
    • Hasty Bake pre-dates both PK Grills and Weber Grills
    • The charcoal basket raises up and down and are very adaptable
  • Where did BBQ start for him? 
    • He started cooking with his Dad and Uncle
    • He got into it in the late ‘80’s when KCBS was first starting up
    • Prize money was non-existent
    • Comps were usually fundraising activities
    • Prizes were usually in-kind: gift cards, a product from a store etc
    • There were no $10k prize purses etc
    • His Dad, Uncle and some of their friends would get together and cook at these events
    • Andy’s Dad used to put pressure on him to work hard and be successful at school, but Andy found that he was more drawn to cooking BBQ
    • Gradually, he got to do more and more of the cooking in that team
    • He saw his relationship move from ‘father-son’ time to ‘hanging out’ time
  • He usually looks at who else is going to an event, before he looks at prize purses
    • He’s more interested in meeting people than making money
    • As a result, he has friends all over the USA and now the world who will help him out, give him a place to stay, etc
  • Smoke on Wheels
    • His Dad’s team was called the HoDeDo’s
    • They decided they wanted to cook less, and Andy decided he wanted to cook more
    • The HoDeDo’s donated him a Hasty Bake BBQ to get him started
    • HoDeDo comes from the fact that they were always runnings late – ‘Hold The Door’
    • The name came from an event where it was pouring rain so they lit the cooker at home and drove it to the comp. They were pulled over by the police and various members of the public. His sister made the comment about ‘smoke on wheels’ and they adopted it as their team name
    • Over time the team and their reputation grew
      • People started asking them for their stuff, so they developed some stuff
      • Whether you know it or not, your profiles and routines become entrenched
    • Andy is an engineer and product person by trade so is good at developing and refining processes
      • This led to developing BBQ classes
      • From the classes, people started wanted to take his rubs, sauces and marinades home with them, so that’s what they brought to market first
    • It hasn’t been easy – it’s been a grind, but he now has products on shelves around the world
  • The Grind – a day in the life of Andy
    • Classes in many different venues
    • His rubs are with different distributors now
    • He does a lot of charity events
    • His day is is 9-5 and Smoke on Wheels is his 5-9
    • He and his wife will go to events separately to cover all their bases
    • They even go to events on weeknights
  • Masterchef in Australia
    • He was in Australia for another event with Redheads BBQ, GrillPro had just started importing Yoders, Hark was starting up etc
    • Jess Pryles and Chris Girwin-Brown introduced him to the BBQ scene
    • Those meetings helped him line up a month of other engagements in Australia
    • They did an event with Gary Meghan were they were bringing in a whole side of a beast into the dining room and then cooking it in front of people
    • Gary Meghan had wanted to do a BBQ episode for a while
    • Masterchef is usually a quick cook scenario
    • They settled on pork ribs
    • The executives sat on the idea for a while and then okayed it at the last minute and decided to shoot the episode in the last week of his trip
    • David Sprigg with GrillPro got all the pits to him in time
    • Cooking Australian ribs was challenging – Andy had to give specs to Coles who had to spec out the ribs 
    • This led to a social media fiasco as you couldn’t get the ribs at Coles
    • Andy would love to do another BBQ episode
  • As a result of the Masterchef BBQ success, we’ve now had two shows dedicated solely to BBQ
  • The funniest story that he could share:
    • Every single event he goes to seems to end up with stories attached to it
    • About ten years ago he was at a BBQ comp on his birthday
      • Everybody wanted to have a birthday shot with him
      • They usually pick a theme and do a big feed for everybody
      • This particular year they did a crawfish boil
      • Andy ended up so messed up that no one thought he’d be able to get his hand-ins done
      • Somehow he got up at 6am and set about getting it done and went from last to first that weekend, winning the event


  • It’s a balanced style: sweet, salty, spicy, smokey
  • The sauce is sweet and smokey
  • Authur Bryant, Gates etc used to cook ribs no an open outdoor pit with a tangy red sauce
  • There is no ‘#1’ meat in Kansas City Style BBQ – they hit all the bases: ribs, chicken, brisket, sausage, burnt ends
  • Kansas City is a cross-roads, so the styles melded together
  • Is there a difference between Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas?
    • There is a nuance between the two
    • MO side of the river was where Henry Perry started off BBQ in the early 1900’s
    • All the other BBQ restaurants came out of the ‘Perry Period’
    • Tomato based sauces with a bit of grit from celery and a little spice
    • On the Kansas side, the oldest BBQ place is Rosedale BBQ
      • Rosedale has been around for 80-odd years and owned by the same family
      • They don’t sauce their meat at all – you sauce it yourself
      • They still have the brick charcoal pits in the store, but just use them to finish and hold the meats
      • They’re one of the people credited with the idea of using a rotisserie for BBQ
    • Gates’ is Andy’s favourite place and he loves to order a dry rack
  • Slaps combines competition style BBQ with a countertop format BBQ joint
    • It’s proved popular with lines out the door every day
  • Todd from Ploughboys is crushing it due to his attention to detail
    • As a result, he’s had incredible growth


  • The individual components of Kansas City Style BBQ
    • Smokers: brick pits with fire underneath were the traditional
    • Rotisseries and Offsets have taken over due to servicing commercial operations better
    • In the comp scene, it’s open slather
    • Yoder is from Kansas
    • Cookshack makes pellet grills
  • One of the cool things he likes about Australian BBQ scene is everybody trying to work out how to make their own pits
    • The creativity is what makes it interesting
  • Nowadays most people run branded smokers, but when he started it was mostly home made
  • Fuels and Woods
    • They use what’s plentiful in the area
    • Post Oak, Pecan, Hickory
    • Most restaurants use Oak and Hickory
  • Classic Kansas City sides
    • Burnt ends are often served as sides
    • Mac & Cheese, baked in a smoker
    • Cheesy corn
    • Pit beans which have trimming scraps etc in there
    • Q39 does a white bean cas’o’lait
      • It’s like an elevated fine dining experience
      • Incorporates rich fat from Pork Belly
    • Slaw is also popular
  • Pulled pork came from the East and is not a KC original
    • It used to be sliced pork, or shaved
    • That’s what used to go into the boxes
    • Boxes have evolved to include money muscle, tubes etc
    • Ribs have changed too
      • Started as spare, then went Baby Backs
    • Competition meats have gone high-end with Durack pork, Wagyu beef etc
    • Now, competition meats and restaurant meats are very different
  • You can turn in Cornish Game Hen instead of chicken in a KCBS competition
  • Modern pork competition boxes are more Memphis style with pulled, chunks, money muscle, horns, tubes et
  • Top 3 Tips
    • Cook – do it 20 to 50 times, not just once
    • Start with a forgiving meat like a pork shoulder or lamb shoulder
    • Don’t be afraid to over season
  • Favourite cut: brisket
  • Lighting charcoal: chimney
  • Pork ribs: St Louis
  • Biggest influence: Dad
  • Money Muscle: over rated
  • Hardest to cook: Chicken
  • 1 tip or trick: Wrap
  • The future: education
  • Steaks: reverse sear
  • Fantasy BBQ League: Todd Johns fr Ploughboys, Kurt Hidayat fr Fast Lane BBQ, Bob Ikoff, an original Ho De Do



Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on email



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *