Local’s Rashad Jones Big Lee BBQ Restaurants once again brought his upbeat personality and passion for barbecue cooking to the national stage.
Jones co-owns and operates the popular Big Lee BBQ restaurants with his wife, Patrice. The business dates back to a local charity competition entry by Rashad Jones 10 years ago and now comprises five locations with 15 employees.
Rashad Jones was in ‘Guy’s Big Project’, also a Food Network offering, featuring celebrity chef Guy Fieri in 2017. He received the grand prize for directing his own six-episode series, ‘Eat, Sleep, BBQ “, which is available on Discovery+ and Amazon Prime Video, according to Patrice Jones.
The couple took the next step when Rashad Jones was recently cast in Food Network’s ongoing series “BBQ Brawl.” Two episodes have already aired, with the third scheduled for 9 p.m. Monday.
Jones joins nine other select barbecue restaurateurs across the United States as a contestant in the third season of the celebrity-judged elimination cooking style “BBQ Brawl.”
“I love what I do. I have a responsibility to represent Ocala and the barbecue culture,” said Jones, 43, a native of Rahway, New Jersey, who moved to central Florida at the 11 years old.
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This is how ‘BBQ Brawl’ works
In the ongoing third season of “BBQ Brawl,” Rashad Jones is part of a three-member team seeking the prestigious title of “Master of the ‘Cue” by defeating two other teams of other top pit masters from all over the United States.
Barbecue dishes and meals prepared in timed, high-intensity cooks are judged by celebrity judges Rodney Scott, Brooke Williamson and Carson Kressley, and the three pit masters of the three teams are coached and led by team captains: celebrity chefs Bobby Flay, Anne Burrel and Jet Tila.
The show is filmed at Star Hill Ranch in Austin, Texas.
Back to the first two episodes
In the first episode, which aired May 9, Jones made a “deconstructed fajita” skewer during the cooking intro segment. It was well received by the judges.
Jones then teamed up with Don Nguyen of Khoi Barbecue in Houston and Sunny Moody of Moodswing BBQ in Nashville to form Team Jet, with Jet Tila as captain, and prepare a full meal for the competition segment.
Tila said the team had a “multinational” flavor, prompting the team to adopt “Jet Set International Smokehouse” as a fake restaurant name.
The team’s offering included pear and prosciutto bruschetta, Galbi ribs, flank steak salad, caramel fish wings, Vietnamese sweet corn, garlic sautéed green beans and a maple bourbon pecan pie.
Jones cooked Galbi Korean-style ribs.
At the end of season three, episode one, Tila’s team was defeated by Flay’s team and were forced to change captains, making Anne Burrell the new captain of Jones’ group.
Season 3 episode 2, which aired on May 16, saw the three teams begin with a competition to shell and remove kernels of corn, grind sausages, carve up whole chickens and make coleslaw from zero in a minimum of time.
Team Anne, with Rashad Jones as a member, won the competition.
“I made a lot of sausages and I could do it fast,” Jones said.
In a second episode two contest, teams had to prepare a dish in the “team segment”.
Team Anne scored a victory with a meal reflecting a “Melting Pot” theme with Jones adding “sweet and sticky Brussels sprouts” and garlic roasted mashed potatoes.
Team Anne’s overall offering included chicken with ginger, garlic and rice, and Southwestern Tri-tip meat with garlic and herbs. The team was considered “safe” from elimination at this time, as was Team Jet.
A Team Bobby competitor, who served food with chunks of charcoal after the food fell into the lid when his grill fell, was let go for the rest of the season at the end of the season. episode two.
At 9 p.m. on May 23 on the Food Network, the team members will face new challenges in episode three.
How does Big Lee do?
Jones’ culinary forte is smoking meats like beef brisket for days on “indirect offset wood smokers.” The fire is shifted to one end and the smoke is drawn through the grill. It uses “kiln-dried central Florida oak wood”, which has a variety of flavors, including chocolate and vanilla scents.
It also uses the “Sweet Lee’s dry rub” flavor. The emphasis is on “low (temperature) and slow cooking,” or as Jones calls it, “holding” the meat.
The downtown Ocala operations center includes its catering trailer, which was the “starter” of the “Big Lee’s: Serious About Barbecue” business, and a smoker’s bank preparing food for all four locations of distant food trucks. Big Lee’s BBQ also serves the entire area.
Jones said he trains his team members carefully and insists on “consistency” in food preparation.
“I’m determined to exceed what you expect (in food),” Jones said.
Recently, Tyler Hames, a member of Big Lee’s BBQ Pit Crew, was monitoring more than 20 four-pound slices of ribs on one of the many heavy smokers in the operations center.
Tyler said that once people came from Tuscawilla Park, several blocks away, because they “followed their noses” toward the aroma of woodsmoke, which he says carries at least one half mile.
Big Lee’s barbecue food trucks, like the one that parks off Southeast Maricamp Road, are located in four locations across the county.
Nicole Jordan, with Chet Craig Plumbing which is located in a building adjacent to the site where the food truck parks.
“The smoke from the truck smells great and they’re always busy,” Jordan said.