Where did you get your start with Sonny’s BBQ on your journey to becoming a Pitmaster?
About 14 years ago, I just moved back from college in Gainesville, and I really wanted to do hair. As I went out one night with some friends, I met a girl who worked at Sonny’s. I was like, “I’m kind of looking for a part-time job while I’m in hair school,” so she said, “we’re hiring servers and you should come in!”
I got hired on the spot and I started a few days later. It was kind of like instant family. They made me feel so welcome, and I knew exactly what the girl was talking about.
What’s your favorite BBQ memory, and how has it influenced you as a Pitmaster?
Watching my mom growing up, on every special occasion, she made her brisket. Everyone loves her brisket, she’s famous for it. She would buy it from the store. But when I started making it, I learned a lot about how it worked. I was able to start carving my own brisket flat to make my own briskets at home.
Now, my mom gets a little bit of a break on those special occasions because I can make it. Being able to give back to my family in that way, it’s so rewarding.
Tell us about the mission of BBQ To the Rescue.
It’s a program that Eddie, the owner, and I came up with in 2014 with a few of our employees. We were so blessed with what Sonny’s had done for our families that we wanted to give back on a larger scale. Its sole purpose is to go out and feed deserving organizations in our community.
What are some of the organizations that BBQ To the Rescue has helped?
We teamed up with Feeding the Fosters, and we helped them put meals on the tables of foster families’ that live crazy busy lives.
We also visited Wheelchairs 4 Kids and fed employees and some families that received a wheelchair from their organization. They gift families wheelchairs that fit their children to what they need. Being a part of that rescue event and knowing we are helping these families, it’s awesome.
Where do you think your giving spirit comes from?
Growing up, my parents were always known as the people that never said no when someone needed something. They were always doing kind things for others when no one was watching. That’s what always inspired me growing up, seeing the things my dad would do when he didn’t want anyone to know. It inspires me to do the same for my children.
How about your kids? Do you involve them in these giving events?
I have made sure that they’re a part of as much as they can be. I want to instill this in them as much as my parents did for me.
If you had to sum it up, why do you love to give back to the community?
Giving is such a big part of my life. Whether it’s doing lunch duty at my son’s school on Fridays, coaching my son’s baseball team, or volunteering and doing these rescue events, being able to make an impact on so many people’s lives, it has just completely changed mine.