A few years back, I bumped into an old friend who said he was having a chili cook-off at his house with a few friends the next day.  I love chili and it sounded like fun. I told him I’d try and whip up a batch of my “famous” chili and swing by.  Normally my chili takes about 2-3 days to make. However, with certain techniques, it can be done in roughly 10 hours.  So I went to the store, got all the ingredients and started early in the morning on my chili.

As I pulled up to his house with a couple of my friends, I began to realize this wasn’t a small event.  Cars lined the street and you could hear the crowd from outside the door.  I walked in and couldn’t help but be overwhelmed. There were at least 80 people who I had never met before.  My friend told me thanks for showing up and handed me four small cups to fill with my chili and set them on a cookie sheet for the judges.  As I set my chili down I counted 11 rows of cups.  I was chili #12.

This was crazy! The house was packed so tight there were people overflowing into the back yard.  I grabbed a beer and a bowl of chili #5 and stepped outside with the small group of people I knew.  15 minutes later, the judges walked out of a room in the back and began tasting the chili.  As they took notes I felt a rush of adrenaline pulse through my body. What I thought was going to be a small get together to catch up with some old friends was turning out to be a full blown chili contest.  After they finished their chili they went back to the room to deliberate.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, why was I getting so anxious?  I only came to share some chili and catch up with my friends.  The judges walked out of the room after what felt like an eternity.  They began calling out the winners.  “Spiciest chili, #3,” the whole crowd boomed with excitement.  “Most Unique, #14,” the crowed roared again and the winner walked up to claim his t-shirt.  I didn’t even know what the categories were how could I win?  Then they called out “Tastiest Chili”.  As they paused the whole crowd went silent.  “#12!” Wait, did he just say #12? My friends looked at me and cheered! After I accepted my shirt I turned to my friends and a person who I had never met again in my life but will remember to the end of time walked up to me and said “Hey, I tried your chili and it was great! Thanks for sharing!”

Now, some of you might be asking, “What does this have to do with rubbing your meat?” That evening I found that sharing my cooking is what I love about cooking. Whether it’s sharing a recipe with a friend or cooking for a party on the 4th of July, I really do like to help people have delicious meals.   However, That doesn’t answer the question, does it?

One of my favorite meals is chicken wings.  In 2013 a friend mentioned we should check out the Great International Chicken Wing Society Cook-off, Reno, NV.  I had never been so I agreed and it was a glorious event! Tons of contestants from all over the country came for 3 days over 4th of July weekend to compete for the title of best wing.  After attending, I set a goal to enter The Great International Chicken Wing Cook-off, Reno, NV.

I spent the next few months perfecting my own method for cooking wings.  Now, I know most people will fry their wings but I hate the cleanup.  So I took the approach of good old fashioned BBQ.  I really love the texture of meat cooked on a BBQ and can’t resist cracking a cold one and lighting the grill on a nice afternoon.  I began with store bought sauces and dry rubs combining them like a mad scientist.  After a while I felt I had mastered the texture but there was still something missing.  I couldn’t put my finger on it but I figured if I was going to enter this contest I would need to have my own blend of spices and my own sauce. This lead me to start investigating my own rub.

My fiance and I would spend hours tasting different combinations of spices and become what we call “Spice Drunk”.  “Spice Drunk” is where you have had so many different flavors in your mouth that even water doesn’t taste right.  After what seemed would be endless trial and error we found a combination which we couldn’t stop using.   We began putting it on anything and everything. I’m talking beef, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp and even lobster! We believed this was the rub that could help me win the The Great International Chicken Wing Cook-of, Reno, NV.

Finally, we started making small batches and give them out as gifts to our friends and family.  Most of them had an idea what a “Dry Rub” was and told us thank you and they would let us know what they thought.  However, some people were not that kitchen savvy. Those who didn’t know the term “Dry Rub” would ask, “What do you do with it?”  The best response I could come up with was, “Rub it on your meat.”  After a few laughs I would tell them my recipe for “Quick Chicken”.  In return I requested extreme honesty with criticism of the rub and the recipe which they used with the dry rub.  Most of them took my recommendation and tried making Quick Chicken.  Others came up with great meals like “Hog Ass” and “Party Eggs”. The responses were overwhelmingly positive and extremely appreciated.

Today we are still working on getting everything finalized to bring Arty’s Party Rub to market. However, if you can make it to Reno, NV and want to try it out I would be more than willing give you some as long as you let me know if you loved it or hated it and what you made with it. Just check out the Rub It page and I will get back to you ASAP.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about how and always remember, flavor is king!

Arthur LeVesque