Thursday, March 16, 2006

Chris Lilly - A Class Act

Of course, most of you probably already knew that. If you have ever had the opportunity to spend any time at all talking to Chris you’ve no doubt picked up on the fact that this man knows his stuff. I have had the opportunity to speak with Chris on several occasions and he has always been very gracious, humble and easy to talk to. That is huge considering his position in the world of competition bbq. Just to prove my point, try to walk up to any person who is considered the best at their craft (Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, etc) and engage in small talk. You probably will not get very far. Chris is a real gentleman and considers himself an ambassador for bbq, not a superstar. I went into the competition at Mobile with high regard and respect for Chris. However, his actions on Saturday solidified my belief that Chris truly one of the best.

Chris had camera crews following him all weekend. We were set up across the way from Big Bob Gibson’s space and had a front row seat all weekend. I watched as Chris gave of his time to talk with reporters and film crews to give them the finer points of good bbq. As Chris was preparing his boxes the cameras rolled. As he took the boxes to the turn in table he always had a cameraman in tow. His every move was being captured for all the viewing public to see.

Then it came time for the brisket category. I did not get to watch Chris during this time because I was preparing our brisket box. Our brisket entry was turned in with 3 seconds left before cut off. Yes, 3 seconds – and we were only two spaces away from the judges tent. More on that in another post. My first clue that something was wrong was when one of the nearby competitors said aloud, “they are not gonna let Chris turn in. He’s late.” When I turned around I saw Chris engaged in a very animated discussion with the contest rep. Chris was not screaming or causing a scene but you could tell he was diligently pleading his case. Several minutes later the lead contest rep entered the discussion and all three carried the conversation in a professional manner. But it was to no avail, he was DQ’d on brisket.

Now most folks (and probably me included) would have stomped back to their cook site with a scowl on their face making statements about how bad the reps were or how they should cut him some slack. I did not see this attitude in Chris. Speaking with him prior to the awards ceremony Chris told me that “it was on me. I was late and that’s my fault.” He had nothing but praise and support for the contest rep who had to make the unpleasant decision to DQ one of the sports all-time superstars. Chris even shook the reps hand and gave him a hug on his way to the stage to recieve one of his many calls that day. He told me that the rep made the right call. WOW!

Chris really showed some class in Mobile. Now don't get me wrong, Chris is a true competitor and his disappointment was evident. You could tell it was eating him up inside to have made this mistake. It is my opinion that the way Chris handled this situation will serve him a whole lot better than if he had reacted like most of us. Plus it will make for some good TV drama when the show airs this summer on Food Network.

Chris, my hat is off to you. Keep up the good work. You are truly a class act. Take a bow!

Ole Smokey

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At 8:15 AM PDT, Anonymous The Survival Gourmet said...

They were actually still talking about this at the Autry this weekend. Does anyone know if Food Network compensated him?

At 6:32 AM PDT, Blogger Ole Smokey said...

I have not heard but I doubt it. With all the pub Chris and BBG has gotten off of this and with the upcoming TV spot, I think Chris came out to the good. My boy did alright!

Good to hear from you. How was the Autry?


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