How the Spark helps Slap’s make delicious Award Winning BBQ.
Following a long-time dream to smoke competitively, brothers Joe and Mike Pearce took a chance in 2013 and started their cooking team Squeal Like a Pig. They hit the ground running with an impressive first year scoring in the top ten percent of KCBS’s Team of the Year. Impressively this was achieved by competing in less than ten shows that year.
The success from that first season earned them a spot on Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters where they appeared in the 6th season, advancing to the final round. advanced to the final round of the 6th season being judged by Tuffy Stone, Myron Mixon, and Moe Cason. This season finale pinned the Squeal Like a Pig team up against the Rescue Fire Smokers from Sycamore, GA with Pitmaster Robby Royal. The competition allowed the two teams to show their skill in the classic meat categories of brisket, ribs, chicken, pork shoulder, and a one-bite challenge of shrimp. In the end, as Joe puts it they “humbly took a photo finish 2nd place in the shadow of a BBQ legend”. This finale aired on June 14, 2014. That same month, the brothers opened the doors to Slap’s BBQ at their current location in KC, KS.
They started their production with a modest amount of food cost, slowly scaling up as their demand increased, as they sold out daily. In some industries selling out of a product can represent poor planning, but for Joe, that is their plan “We sell out every day because we are committed to cooking fresh and putting the best BBQ on the plate we can.”
In 2017 Joe ordered a first-generation FireBoard, model FBX11, to assist Slap’s kitchen production team members keep an eye on warming and smoking. “We like using it to keep an eye on bringing food up to temp,” said Pearce. The FireBoard 2 has six ports, giving them the ability to monitor the temperature and time duration of six different food products. Knowing both the temp and the timing of the temp is critical and affects food taste. For more information on how FireBoard can simplify a food safety program visit our blog about HACCAP plans.
Slap’s have since added a Spark to their lineup to monitor temps keeping food fresh and safe. Joe explains: “I gave our Kitchen manager his own personal Spark. It is perfect for all of the temperature reading he has to do.” This includes Slap’s front-line warmers, back-line warmers, and spot checks on orders, multiple times per shift, the kitchen manager does it all with a Spark. Taking it further, FireBoard’s NFC tags eliminate the need for a handwritten temperature log book. Check out this blog from last year for more information on using your Spark’s NFC tag reader.
Ten years since their first season, the Pearce brothers have continued to grow their restaurant as well as their competition record; competing in 25-35 competitions a year and earning multiple top ten rankings for KCBS’s Master Series Team of the Year, recently taking first in chicken at the American Royal 2022 Open competition. For a restaurant team to compete that much, is a rarity that takes intense planning and preparation. Efforts that are clearly worth it to Mike and Joe as they get to follow their dream to treat the world to their tasty creations. So the next time you are in Kansas City be sure to take a trip across the Kaw to visit Slaps, they are open 7 days a week 11-7, or until sold out.