Brad Orrison and his sister Brooke Lewis are co-owners of The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Coming from humble roots, the two have self-built (literally) somewhat of a barbeque empire. The original Shed is built mainly from found objects from Brad’s dumpster diving days back at Ole Miss. It was during those days when he was looking for something to do with all his found objects (aka junk) that he came up with the idea of building a take out barbeque joint. He got his sister Brooke, and eventually his entire family to help build what is now a family owned and operated business (right down to his grandma bartending), and has since franchised into several Sheds throughout the south. The folks at The Shed compete and win regularly in big-time BBQ competitions around the country, and have been featured on the Travel Channel series Food Paradise, Man vs. Food, and they won the Regis & Kelly “Home Town Cook Off”.
Their recipe for MommaMia’s Mac Salad can be found HERE.
Fanzooloo hooked up with the dynamic duo to talk Regis, BIG time tailgating and ‘dem Saints.
Fanzooloo: You’ve become some pretty serious BBQ cookin’ competitors. Describe the competition scene and one of your favorite experiences.
Brad: The competition world is a crazy group of people who love to eat, drink, and most of all love to compete for braggin’ rights against the best in the business. Competition BBQ is a sport and the Super Bowl of Swine happens every year at “Memphis In May” which is my favorite competition of all time. 400 of the top competitors in the world in one spot with plenty of beer and tequila to go around. In 2007 we were filming a documentary on (the competition) and I was introduced to the legend Mike Mills – the golden grey headed god of BBQ.
FZ: What was it like being on Regis and Kelly?
Brad: In 2009 The Shed got nominated for The Regis and Kelly “Home Town Cook Off.” It was a public vote against 10,000 other bbq joints and we had to cook the bbq on site in New York City! It was such a thrill to meet Regis. He’s like the cool old grandpa that’s always pimpin’ on the ladies, a true gentlemen, but he is really short though. We stayed in a great hotel and yes we won the big prize and got a great write up in Better Homes and Gardens !
Brooke: This was very exciting for us! I believe I was more nervous standing with the camera crew than Brad was presenting our Pulled Pork Sandwich to the judges. He showed our brand and ‘ShedStyle’ personality flawlessy! This isn’t easy under the big city lights and 11 million viewers who watch Regis and Kelly each day. Brad and I have been blessed to meet many of our BBQ mentors, television personalities, and musicians over the past 10 years.
FZ: The South is known for its incredible barbeque and one can only imagine how difficult it must be to make a name for yourself among so many greats, and yet in the past few lean economic years you guys have had a real growth spurt. What has been the secret behind that?
Brad: In August we had our 10 year reunion and celebrated it with a giant Blues festival. It has been an amazing run from a 300 square foot tiny shed to a sprawling shed that seats 1,000 people and averages 2,200 pounds of meat everyday. I think we’ve been able to ride this out because The Shed is not just a place to eat, it’s a place to enjoy and experience; bring the kids and everybody. The Shed has always been family friendly. We have been featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, the Travel Channel (Food Paradise), and most recently Man vs Food.
FZ: The south is big on it’s college football teams. If you were planning a big tailgate party for your favorite team, what would it be like? Where would it be, who would be there? (You can invite anyone to this party by the way.) What are you cooking and what are you drinking?
Brad: My family is divided on a favorite team. Mine is Ole Miss, Brooke likes LSU and my dad loves the Jayhawkers, so go figure it’s a party no matter what jersey you have on.
Brooke: I would split the house and yard straight down the middle with all Ole Miss (red & blue) on the left and all LSU (purple and gold) on the right. We would have a Cajun seafood boil with crabs, shrimp, crawfish, and all the fixins! Then light up the smoker and slow smoke some beer butt chicken and ribs. Maybe throw some bacon wrapped jalapeños on the grill with some marinated vegetables!. We could fry up some fresh speckled trout and we would have hit all four corners of outdoor cooking – Boil, Smoke, Grill, and Fry! Drinks would most likely involve Bloody Marys that morning while we are marinating, then onto a selection of cold beer!
Brad: I’d be drinking Newcastle but I always keep some Moonshine handy. I like the Coconut Moonshine. There is a song about that by Grayson Capps – he’s on the tailgate Guest List along with a myriad cast of personalities who include Mr. Jim, The Sheds first customer, Regis, Mick Jagger, my Buddy Big Joe Turner and R.L Burnside both are in Heaven sitting down watching the party happen.
FZ: What are the essentials to a great BBQ tailgate party? (equipment, sauces, beers, people, fire pit?)
Brad: We always have a smoker, a grill and a fryer at our parties and oysters on the half shell. We produce our sauces at a place called The Saucery and have 8 main sauces that range from Vinegar based to Mustard base to our famous Poppa Jacks Shed Spread which is our original tomato based sauce all of our products are available on our website theshedbbq.com. We always use a charcoal grill for our burgers and steaks but the gas grill is great for cooking up some Mississippi raised catfish. Lots of beer!
Brooke: There are 4 main components to a great tailgate party. 1.) Surrounding yourself with wild and crazy friends, 2.) Great Food – Now there are a couple components that make up GREAT tailgate food! It must please your sense of smell, sight, and taste! So, in my book…A grill or smoker is REQUIRED! 3.) COCKTAILS! 4.) Music you can Shake a Tail feather to.
FZ: In your opinion, do they do it better in the South, tailgate that is…what might a gal find at a southern tailgate party that you wouldn’t necessarily find in say, Buffalo?
Brad: Southern hospitality is the philosophy in Mississippi and it shows at our tailgating parties. It doesn’t matter what jersey you have on it’s about tailgating – partying with people you don’t know and meeting new friends and seeing old friends. Tailgating is a sport all in itself.
Brooke: We Southern girls can hang in with the best of them! Whether its sports talk, grilling, or haven a few cold ones! And of course, in the Southern Hospitality Regions…We don’t care who you are…you’re ALWAYS invited to the party!
FZ: As far as who wins the World Series this year, the sibling co-owners are divided…
Brad: Texas Rangers. They are hot, they closed out the Tigers 15-5.
FZ: But they do agree on who’s in the Super Bowl…
Brooke: The Saints! I live in “Who Dat” country!
Brad: I want to see Dem Saints! Who Dat! It would be cool though to see Detroit make it after the season they had last year. Katrina devastated our area, the Saints brought a lot of hope. I think we can parallel that with Detroit and the auto industry.