Startin' the Fire
Everything you need to know about starting a competition bbq team
by George Hensler

100 pages
$12.99/PB (978-1-890689-14-8)

Book signings and events are listed as a master calendar. Check out the calendar by clicking the button below:

Oct. 15-16, 2010 -- Diamond State BBQ Championship, Dover, DE
August 27-28, 2010 -- New Holland Summerfest, New Holland, PA
June 27, 2010 -- Book signing at Barnes & Noble, Bel Air, MD -- 1pm

June 4-5, 2010 -- Beltway BBQ Showdown, Upper Marlboro, MD
May 14-15, 2010 -- Smoke in the Valley, Green Lane, PA
April 16-17, 2010 -- Pork in the Park, Salisbury, MD
April 9-10, 2010 -- Open House at Meadow Creek BBQ Supply, New Holland, PA

Refreshing new topic emerges on BBQ book scene: Starting a BBQ Team
By Doug Mosley
It’s always refreshing to see something new and different from the rest—an original idea or a different take, sometimes even something just a little bit out of the ordinary. I’ve been writing this review column for nearly a decade and I’ve enjoyed the privilege of reading many great books about barbeque. Yet, I’ve never come across a book anything at all like Startin’ the Fire: Everything You Need to Know about Starting a Competition BBQ Team (Except the Recipes) by George Hensler ($12.99, Rio Grande Books, 102 pp.) I’ve seen great books on how to cook barbeque, I’ve seen many excellent books on great places that serve barbeque, and I’ve seen a couple of books about barbeque competitions. But a how-to on starting a competition barbeque team? Nope, not until now.
To the credit of Hensler, he is upfront with his readers about how this book came about. He admitted right away that this doesn’t come from decades of experience on the competition barbeque circuit but rather is drawn off his skills as an organizer and a planner. And judging from what he included in this book, this is a guy who got it right away.
Hensler included a couple of bonuses in his book. The first is all the barbeque team logos interspersed throughout the pages. Some you may know, some you may not. But you’re sure to enjoy the creativity and, who knows? It may inspire a new logo for a team of your own. The second bonus is the playlists for different periods in a competition. Once you see these, I’m pretty sure you’ll be visiting iTunes to add these to your iPod. (Don’t make me explain iTunes and iPod to any of you!)--National Barbeque News

Startin’ The Fire: BBQer From Street Pens Book On Tasty Competition
By Lorrie Warfield
You might see some of the competitions on TV, teams hurrying to “plate” their dishes. For George Hensler it all began with a trip to the Bel Air BBQ Bash a couple years ago. He was attending the competition as a spectator and decided that competitive barbequing looked like it might be a good deal of fun. The team started out pretty innocently as a bunch of friends barbequing in the back yard but quickly turned into a full fledged BBQ team. When beginning competitive barbequing the team had to rely on the assistance of other teams to point them in the right directions as there was no printed information widely available at the time. Luckily although the barbequing is competitive most teams were willing to take a new team under their wing and show them the ropes. Their team out of Street, Md named “Who Are Those Guys?”, began competing under the Kansas City BBQ Society. The society lays out some of the ground rules for competition including; the types of barbequing meats, the double blind judging method, and contest rules. When beginning to barbeque competitively George Hensler searched for information on how to begin the team. He was unable to find any books to help so once the team got started he decided to write his book “Startin’ the Fire”. This book is an absolute necessity to anyone considering starting a BBQ team or someone just wanting to know more about BBQ teams. There are chapters including; building your team, selecting a cooker, and how to handle your first contest. There are also a wealth of stories intermingled into the text of events that have occurred. At the end of the book there is a glossary of BBQ terms so that even a newbie can understand what is being said. The book is available at along with other book retailers, including “Startin’ The Fire” will also be available at a book signing event at Barnes and Noble in Bel Air, Md on June 12th. You can also find George Hensler and the rest of the “Who Are Those Guys” at or on their Facebook page. George also writes for a number of BBQ related publications including; National BBQ News and Smoke Signals. This year “Who Are Those Guy’s” will be at the competitions including; Bel Air BBQ Bash on August 13th & 14th and Salisbury, Md April 16th & 17th so come down and cheer this local team on. There are many ways to get involved in barbequing . You can become a judge through classes that are available throughout the year at various locations. You can be a contestant in the competitions and compete locally or travel the country. Or you can just be a spectator and enjoy the wonderful smells and flavors. -- The Daily Dagger

Startin' the Fire
by Eric Devlin
You know that guy at work that keeps asking you about BBQ? The one who has a secret sauce recipe passed down from his grandmother? The guy who is sure that if he entered a competition he would walk away with more trophies than the NY Yankees? He needs this book. He's annoying and a bit of a poseur, but Startin' the Fire will educate him on the comptetion experience very quickly. George Hensler is the pitmaster for the "Who Are Those Guys?" BBQ team. Fairly new to competing, George has chronicled his experience as on his blog ( Startin' the Fire grew from those posts and is the first succinct and accessible introduction to competing that I have come across. George writes in a friendly and colloquial fashion with ancedotes that complements his advice.

Startin' the Fire
by Huck's Hut
Starting the fire is a book about everything you need to know about starting a competition bbq team except the recipes.When I got the book I was motivated to read due to the thickness(not thick at all) of the book. I spent a couple days checking out the art work on the front page and the back page with comments from Ray Lampe aka dr bbq, Rick Browne and Mike Stines . When I started reading this book, it became personal right away. First of all thanks to Al Gore for inventing the internet. George stated on a forum that he was writing a book and was looking for bbq pictures. Now I regret not sending our logo to make this book. My brother in law and I went to the contest in green lane, pa last year as spectators and we sat at the table at awards time with “Who Are Those Guys” (WATG) which we didn’t know at the time. After 4 top ten calls and a RGC we knew who those guys were. The book is very informative for people who plan to compete or for fans of pitmasters to know whats required to compete. As a comp bbq team we found this very valuable. This book will shortening the learning curve. From picking a name to team mates, bbq equip and the things needed compete, Transportion, box building practice were points that addressed. Resoures such as bbq forums, bbq books, equipment sources, review of kcbs rules,and bbq lingo. Reading this book could cause an addiction. But it will have you totally prepared for competition bbq. I am sure George would agree with me that he wish he had read this book before starting to compete. We think any one planing on or competing can gain valuable info from reading this book. George where are the recipes? I guess that’ll be in book 2.

We Didn't Start the Fire (But We Did Read the Book)
by BBQ Nation
Last week, we were fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of George Hensler's "Startin' the Fire," a book that will quickly emerge as the go-to resource for individuals looking to start their own competition barbecue teams.

For those of you who don't know George, he is the founding member of a team called Who Are Those Guys? and one of the friendliest folks out there on the competition circuit.

First, the basics. The book (MSRP $12.99 plus shipping) is a smallish paperback, perfect for stuffing in your back pocket as you feel your way through its step-by-step guide to competitive cooking. Over the book's 29 easy (and amusing) to read chapters, George covers off everything from selecting a team name and the proper equipment to invest in to equipment needs and food safety and shigging (the "theft" of cooking techniques from other teams during contests). George even includes a variety of team logos throughout the book including one that does not include a cartoon pig but instead involves a skull and crossed BBQ tools. And some smoke in da eye of the skull. Anyway, back to the book.

Early on, George tells the tale of one of his team's first and most favorite contests, New Holland Summerfest 2007. I mention this because that also happens to be when our team first met George and WATG? As George mentions, it was hotter than a whore on dollar night that weekend and everyone was struggling to get 6 categories completed and turned in a three-hour window while not passing out. We all survived and settled in to awards, not expecting much based on the critique our neighbor and good friend Jack McDavid had provided of our entries. But we sat anyway and were amazed to get a first place call in the first category, sausage. Soon they began calling results for chicken and when they got to third place we heard "WHO ARE THOSE GUYS?"

Well I sure as h#ll didn't know who those guys where but one of our friends Steve (aka Sledneck of R2BQ barbecue team) couldn't get over the name and soon we were all cheering their walk to the stage. We cheered so much, in fact, that I missed the fact that they called Smoke In Da Eye for second place in chicken and had to look at the trophy when I received it to even know what category it was for! WATG? went on to get a couple more calls that day, finishing an amazing third overall, and we have been friends ever since.

Yet while every existing competitor should read the book simply to experience the color way in which George shares so many of the experiences we have all had during our time on the circuit, this book was truly create as a bible for those just now looking to dip their foot in the barbecue sauce pond. As such, I asked my wife to read the book and provide her own take on it. Although she grew up minutes for the mega Memphis In May contest and has come to several of our competitions over the years, her experience has always been that of a spectator. So read on...

The ranks of competition grilling are about to get more crowded, thanks to George Hensler’s new book, Startin’ the Fire, which instructs the newbie team about all of the ins and outs of a competition. Nothing speaks like experience, and here George has been good enough to share all that he’s learned from running his award-winning team, “Who are Those Guys?”

The book covers what you would expect (keep your hands clean and your meat cool) to what you wouldn’t (avoid chafing, buy Gold Bond!). The novice shouldn’t hesitate to dive right into a competition as long as he keeps this invaluable reference book close at hand, which includes handy checklists and a glossary.

I was very impressed by the chapter about Box Building 101, which explains why putting lettuce in a Styrofoam container is surely one of the most maddening aspects of competing. George also shares some of the flavor of a real ‘que competition, recounting his highs, lows and battles with the unpredictable BBQ gremlins. What I loved most though was how he was able to convey his love of the sport and the camaraderie between all the teams. After reading this book, you’ll understand why he and so many others are completely hooked on this all-American sport.

Other Media coverage:
Huckshut Podcast

The complete guide to starting your own competition bbq team, from your initial idea to cooking in your first full contest. It covers preliminary considerations, planning, equipping, set-up, and running your own team.

George has gone where no other has before... he tells you how to compete in barbecue competitions. His book is a great read for anyone thinking of competing and for those already on the circuit. It’s informative and funny!
Mike Stines, Ph.B., Author of
Mastering Barbecue

I’ve cooked on a few teams in my time on the circuit, but we never had this kind of organized approach. Now that I have George’s book, my next team will have a good plan to follow and we won’t be stabbing each other with barbecue forks!
Ray Lampe, a.k.a. “Dr. BBQ,” Author of five barbecue books including
The NFL Gameday Cookbook

A masterful yet fun journal that will teach avid barbecuers the ins and outs of competition bbq; a must-have handbook for anyone who wishes to join the ranks of the bbq world’s best practitioners.
Rick Browne, Host of the PBS-TV show
Barbecue America and author of The Best Barbecue on Earth

George Hensler, head cook and founder of the “Who Are Those Guys?” BBQ cook team from Street, Maryland, is a monthly columnist for both the Kansas City Barbeque Society Bullsheet and the National BBQ News. He is also a contributor to Smoke Signals. In the process of starting his own bbq competition team, he and his crew have received several honors for brisket, chicken, beef ribs and overall team competition.

Get the Gear Here
Specially designed t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts and aprons with the Startin' the Fire logo are available. Click on the images below and you can get more information and order these items.