Interview with Tommy Duncan of Whiskey Ranch
Read our interview below with Tommy Duncan about his appearance on the first episode of the special Chopped: Grill Masters series.
Amy Martin: Leading up to the filming of the first episode, did you and your wife prepare at all with timed cooking challenges?
Tommy Duncan: No! Our catering business had been so busy that every week we were booked solid leading up to filming.
Amy: Was your Chopped experience anything like you had expected?
Tommy: I expected it to be a great experience but I had no idea how over-the-top and fun it would be… and the staff experience was INCREDIBLE as well.
Amy: In BBQ, I’m sure you cook outside often. Did you feel at home competing outdoors?
Tommy: Yes; our company being 100% mobile means everything is outside, so it was very comfortable and in Arizona as well.
Amy: What would have been the worst possible ingredient you could have been given on the show?
Tommy: Any type of animal organ.
Amy: Your kale pesto was a fabulous idea, especially since you are not a fan of the leafy green. What struck your inspiration?
Tommy: My inspiration for the pesto was 100% Food Network’s doing. I watch it all the time, however that was my first pesto ever and they said it was great. My wife didn’t realize I could use the food processor and she was shocked!
Amy: You and Jennifer seem to be such a competitive couple, but you obviously work well together. Does it get challenging at times?
Tommy: I love working with my best friend and wife everyday and yes, sometimes it gets very challenging because of the time we put in. However, we are blessed to do what we love everyday and get to do it together. Any frustrations we may have get taken out on each other when we compete – that’s what makes it fun for us as well.
Amy: Do you both work together to create new dishes and sauces for your BBQ menu?
Tommy: Yes. We always are creating new items and building new rigs to better the experience for our clients. We test new menu items every two weeks and, for us, when you serve as many as we are capable of serving, new items usually are tested to the masses at one of our events and we can tell right away if it is a good one or not.
Amy: The judges commented on the seasoning on your fries in round 2. What did you season them with?
Tommy: I went Southwestern with salt and chili powder.
Amy: What is your favorite protein to grill?
Tommy: I love steak and chicken.
Amy: Favorite side dish on your BBQ menu at Whiskey Ranch?
Tommy: Whiskey Ranch favorite side dishes are the Baked Beans we are known for and the Southwestern Corn.
Amy: Will you be grilling up more fish after your experience on the show?
Tommy: Absolutely. The tough part of the show is not being able to taste the food. When the judges were saying I cooked a perfect piece of fish, I wanted to taste it. Also, people are now calling me ‘Tommy Halibut’ so I think I might need to practice more fish and salad items… but the answer is NO to the sauerkraut.
Amy: Has your experience on the show influenced your career at all?
Tommy: 100% YES. This experience was definitely the highlight of my career to date. I can’t wait for the next time and the publicity from people knowing us now on the streets and coming up to us has been a blast. I am very excited for the future and what this experience has put in front of us, personally and through the business. We gauge our success by how much we can give back and we know this entire experience will increase our ability to help our charities and our community.
Amy: Are you still free from the pink shirt?
Tommy: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS! If Jennifer has anything to do with that, she will try to change my status in the the next competition coming up. But for now, it’s black.
Learn more about Tommy Duncan and Whiskey Ranch BBQ at whiskeyranchbbq.com.
Interview by Amy Martin, PhoenixBites Editor in Chief