Fans of Bigmista's mobile barbecue stand will be greeted by an enormous, fire engine-red smoker debuting at today's Torrance Farmers' Market. Neil and Phyllis Strawder, the owners of Bigmista, returned on Sunday from a week-long trip to the Missouri workshop of Spicewine Ironworks.
This is the third Spicewine smoker in Bigmista's fleet. The two previous units were semi-custom stock models, but this is a one-off rig built to Strawder's specifications. Spicewine co-owner Jay Curry says, “Neil's took 6 months to build, but there was a lot of 'daily' engineering involved, since we had never built this type before. One built just like Neil's would cost around $29,000.”
The 14-foot long trailer weighs in at 5000 pounds, according to Curry. “With over 60 square feet of cooking space, it can hold two whole hogs at once, or over 90 pork butts, or, 50 packer briskets or 100 racks of ribs. It has three times the cooking capacity of [Strawder's] current smoker. It also has a charcoal-fired oven that doesn't get any smoke in the cooking chamber so that he can do cakes, cookies or anything else that would require an oven.”
Squid Ink: It doesn't seem that long ago that you got the last cooker, “Big Red.” When was that?
Neil Strawder: We got Big Red almost two years ago to the day! It arrived just before the BBQ contest at the 2009 Stagecoach Country Music Festival.
SI: Prior to Big Red, you got “Junior,” the medium-sized Spicewine.
NS: I got my first Spicewine Smoker in 2007 as a housewarming gift from my wife. She secretly contacted all of my friends and found out exactly what to order. I still haven't figured out how all of those gossips kept it from me.
SI: Is the new rig going to be your default setup for the farmers markets, or is this just being used for special days?
NS: We won't be able to use the new rig at all of the farmers markets because there just isn't enough room. But it will get plenty of work at festivals, catering events and BBQ competitions.
SI: What features did you ask Spicewine to build in? Is there a particular feature you especially love?
NS: The trailer has a 4' x 5' smoker, a fridge, a three-compartment sink with hot & cold running water, a prep area with a cutting board top and electrical outlets for gizmos and gadgets. I think my favorite feature is the charcoal oven that can be used for warming, baking or roasting. It will also be great for pizza!
SI: Now that you have an oven, what do you plan on using it for? Does this mean you'll have ability to make mac n cheese, rice and beans and collard greens every day?
NS: Quit trying to make extra work for me, man. You only want me to make Red Beans and Rice so you can get some! And we already have greens everyday.
SI: Do you have a name for the new rig yet? Maybe you should have a naming contest?
NS: We have settled on the name Olivia J. PIMA. Olivia for the stuffed pig that Jay Curry bought for my daughter, J for Jay Curry and PIMA because everytime I asked how the build was going, Jay would say, “It's a Pain In My Ass!”
Bigmista's Barbecue: www.bigmista.com
Disclosure: The author and Strawder competed as teammates on the Four Q BBQ team prior to 2010.