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Big Jim, Here

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    Big Jim, Here

    Big Jim here. I'm the webmaster and lead web designer for AmazingRibs.com. I've been designing webpages and websites for over 15 years. I'm the author of the last three editions of Dreamweaver: Classroom in a Book (Adobe Press) and I'm starting on the next one soon. I've been a graphic designer and writer for over 25 years but I've been a cook since I was 12 years old, when one of my buddies would come over after Sunday school and we'd cook chili. My first real job was as a dish washer in a Czech restaurant in Chicago when I was 15. So, food has a very strong connection to me.

    I learned how to barbecue in the Chicago "wet" style, but was always curious about other forms of BBQ. I have traveled all over the country and often sought out different types of BBQ through the years but the one thing that always eluded me was this magic type known as "pit". I ate at many joints all over the south and west but never found anything that was so unusual to warrant such acclaim. Never, that is, until I went to Nashville about 20 years ago. I was teaching at a company outside the city and told my students that I was interested in finding great "pit" barbecue. One student piped up, " I know just the place."

    After class I followed him into the city to a place that looked just like someone's home. When I walked in the door I could see that the rooms were full of picnic tables and benches. There was no table service, so we had to order at the counter and, like many restaurants in the South, it didn't even sell beer. But when my number was called, the wait was over. My first taste of the ribs and brisket was all I needed to know why so many people have spent so many years trying to perfect this form of cooking. Wow. The meat was tasty and succulent and featured a bold smokey flavor that was sweet and savory at the same time. This was the taste that I had never found before that day. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what the name of the place, but that experience started my second lifelong quest, to perfect this type of barbecue myself.

    About 15 years ago I set out to do some slow cooking on my Weber kettle. I set up a two-zone cooker in my kettle and put my dry-rubbed ribs on one side and the heat and the water on the other. After about 6 hours we dined on the best ribs I had ever made. I was hooked.

    The funniest thing about the last two years is that I actually discovered AmazingRibs.com a couple of weeks before Meathead called me to redesign the site. The last two years has been a journey of discovery for both of us as Meathead is learning how to build high-quality web code, while I've been learning about "Enterprise-level" website standards and practices. (Not many web designers get the privilege to work on a site that gets over a million visitors per month!)

    We've made some important changes to the site and have already added some amazing content, but we've barely begun. For example, over the last year we've noticed that our visitors are coming to the site more and more on mobile devices. So, we've been busily redesigning the site all over again to take advantage of the latest responsive design techniques. Very soon you will be looking at a very different site. It will have all the same great content, but it will be much easier to find, access and use. Stay tuned!

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