My name is William Riley, owner and head cook for James River Bar-B-Que. We are a BBQ and Southern cooking team out of Lynchburg Virginia. In 1999 I was a novice grill cook and had it not been for a really dissatisfied customer, James River Bar-B-Que might not have ever came to be.
“These are the worst hamburgers I’ve ever tasted!”
With this simple yet brash statement muttered to me that hot August afternoon, the concept for James River Bar-B-Que was born. The next morning I went into the kitchen and started throwing a little of this and a little of that into a pot. To be brutily honest, I had no idea at all of what I was doing. When it was all said and done though, I had myself a right tasty little concoction. I went out that morning and started slathering that sauce on every hamburger and piece of chicken that came off that grill. At the end of the day, I knew I was on to something.
As the summers came and went, I began to perfect my sauce and started to incorporate rubs and marinades in my cooking. I studied everything I could find on grilling and Southern cooking and I began to experiment with my new found knowledge. I also began to notice that the lines at my little grill (along with my waistline) had begun to grow. My “spice burgers” as they were called, were beginning to catch on in a big way.
In 2004 I was honored as the phrase “almost famous” was added to the menu beside my hamburger. That was also the year I started experimenting with barbecue. Ribs and chicken were my first attempt at cooking ‘cue. The trouble was I forgot the smoke and I knew nothing of low and slow, remember my background was in grilling. In spite of all of that, the food turned out good, OK fair, well to be honest even the dogs had to think about eating it. Not one to give up, I kept on cooking and it wasn’t long before time and lots of practice began to work their magic on my barbecue.
2008 was the year the pit-master in me came out. I began to learn the techniques and tricks to cooking great barbecue. While my food was good, I still wasn’t ready to serve my barbecue to anyone but family and friends. My wife who has always been my biggest supporter and best friend kept encouraging me to share my talents with the world. So, I spent 2009 honing my skills and finally in the spring of 2011, James River Bar-B-Que made its first public appearance opening to a sell out event and rave reviews. The success has been phenomenal ever since.
We competed in the Virginia State Barbecue Championship in July placing third in ribs in the MBN patio division on our first time out. Our sauce is selling like crazy and orders for barbecue continue to roll in. James River Bar-B-Que is well on its way to becoming a force in the barbecue world and 2011 promises to be a banner year.
I have learned that cooking BBQ is a labor of love. You have to love it, to crawl out of bed at 4:00am to fire up the smoker to cook a few racks of ribs for lunch. It takes a special breed to sit up all night long waiting for a cooker of shoulders or brisket to get just right. (Dinking a beer or two an hour may not be the best idea in that kind of situation, but what the hell!)
James River Bar-B-Que is more than just a barbecue team. We are committed to bringing back the art of barbecuing and Southern cooking. The truth is anyone, and I mean anyone can cook, even if its just one Sunday afternoon cook out a month. Fire up the grill or light up the smoker and throw on your favorite slab of meat! We here at JRB understand the joy and harmony that a little smoke, a lot of good food and the laughter of family and friends can bring into your life. It is our goal to reintroduce this experience back into the backyards of the South and the rest of America while we are at it!
By the way, we also make the best damn Bloody Mary’s on the East Coast. Period!
James River Bar-B-Que is: William “Rebel” Riley– Owner and Head Cook
Connie “Lily” Riley– Team Captain and Site Decorator
Tommy “Bun-E” McKinney– Team Cook
Jennings “Hip Holder” Leebrick– Team Prep Cook
Mark “The Zim” Zimmerman– Team Consultant and Cook
Prancer “The BBQ Dog”– Team Mascot
Honorary Member: Todd “The Whiz” Burgess– Team Tech Guy (The brightest bulb in this chandelier!)
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