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Barbecue Guru



Wayne Mark Schafer has spent 30 years selling his famous bbq at fairs and festivals. We had the opportunity to conduct an interview with him. 


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What was the background story behind your bbq pit business?

As a child my mom worked in restaurants. Before she met my stepdad I was carted along to the kitchen. I had a love for watching people cook, then I wanted to do it myself. Later my mom and stepfather started a food concessions business. I helped but in high school wanted to do my own thing. I experimented with smoking meats with different seasonings, and took it on the road at fairs and festivals when I was 19. Remember in this day no one ate smoked meats and beef at fairs or festivals, maybe just the bull roasts. Fairs and festivals had pizza, funnel cakes, sausage, cheesteaks and things quick and easy to make like your regular hot dog.

In the early 90’s, I partnered with my brother and we opened Big Fat Daddy’s Famous Pit Beef which was a tiny restaurant/shack in Baltimore. It became famous real quick. We later closed it, and took the show on the road. I am now the only but still original owner of the company.

What is so unique about your bbq pits and bbq smokers?

Some require less work and some require more work. You have to find one that you enjoy, and that you can operate to the best of your ability. You can talk to ten different Pitmasters, and they will all tell you a different story, and have a favorite brand. I make my own, but I put myself though the extra work of still doing the old time “stick burner” which means it’s an open wood pit and constantly you are feeding and stoking the wood.

How do you price your products? Do you consider the pricing of your product reasonable? I price my products based on the portion size and food cost, and my food is top quality which costs more than most concessionaires. (However, that’s what keeps my loyal following coming back.) Unfortunately a lot of places you vend now make you add in meals tax, this is something new that a lot of counties are doing—and those who aren’t soon will be. Many people don’t realize when they go to a fair or festival and pay a lot for a sandwich that includes the sales taxes and local taxes, plus meals taxes that must be remitted to the local townships.

Barbecue food are somehow not the most healthy food. How do you convince people who are health conscious before they buy your products?

The problem is when you go to a fair and festival, the cheapest foods you can find are not always the best quality or good for you. I give subs and not sandwiches (bigger portions) and use high quality meats so you feel satisfied after eating a sub. I remember I used to eat at stands and feel sick with grease after eating a sandwich or fries. I blame that on cheap crap meats or all those trans-fats vendors were using because truth be told trans-fat oil was the cheapest out there and also no good for you. I am glad some states have outlawed that crap.

I only serve angus, organic, grass fed beef and pork when I can and this costs way more. I sell a lot of turkey legs as a way to implement healthier meats into your diet. Buying top quality locally sourced Ferrante’ Brothers sausage does makes my food prices higher than the guy sitting next to me, but you compare his crap-gristle for five bucks to my high quality for seven bucks we make the same profit margin.

I literally put five different brands of sausage on my grill and watched who had the least amount of fat draining from it while cooking, which tasted better and was the most lean. Most food vendors don’t take the time to do this. It’s no secret that it costs more to operate with health in mind. I also only use Soya Oil to fry real potatoes in. I can’t stand processed frozen fries and peanut oil is great but too many people are allergic to it. Soya bean is a healthier alternative to that other crap. To be honest, you should pick and choose where to eat at a fair and if you buy the cheapest sausage you get what you pay for. Now as for a funnel cake, or deep fried Oreo Cookie, well, moderation is key.

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In five years time, what are your plans and what do you hope to achieve?

I hope to retire in five years time, maybe someone would want to take over my legacy but I doubt they will because it’s hard work. My kids would rather work in offices with air conditioning and I can’t say I blame them. What I do I love too much and the satisfaction comes from being able to withstand three decades in my business, I’m still the small family owned company and for now, I’m happy doing what I do.

Barbecue Guru Reviewed by My Blogger Profile on 12:13:00 PM Rating: 5
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