The Dizzy Pig Story
It began with food,
The story begins in the year 2000 with two men, Chris Capell and Mike Kerslake. At the time both men were strangers in their late thirties residing in two different countries in search of ‘true bbq’. Their search led them to explore flavors and satisfaction found only in authentic barbecue cookery.
They wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for their purchase of the Big Green Egg, a ceramic smoker/grill. Not too long after the purchase, Chris and Mike joined the Big Green Egg online forums for hints, techniques, recipes, and the fellowship of other BGE owners.
Following the common practice of assuming a forum ‘handle’, Chris looked no further than his other passion in life, camping, hiking, and outdoor sports, for his inspiration in latching onto the online persona of Nature Boy.
Mike’s search for a handle was much more pragmatic; he found that the strongest bbq-related name available through his AOL service was that of BBQfan1, affectionately “Qfan” to friends and fellow Qers.
Finally their paths crossed for the first time online as Nature Boy and BBQFan1. As their dialogue about bbq moved from the BGE forum into off-line emails and phone calls, the two found that their interests went beyond the grill; music, sports, their young daughters, personal goals, and philosophies all seemed to mirror those of the other. Yup; a cross-border friendship was born!
In late 2001 and early 2002, Mike went through a series of changes in his life that lead to the wish of making an honest, full-fledged pursuit of a ‘career’ in bbq.
The idea of a pig roasting restaurant proved too overwhelming, but the imagery of a roasting pig going around on a rotisserie created a name and mental picture so strong that it couldn’t be dismissed: The Dizzy Pig BBQ Company.
Chris was going through some changes of his own, as his full-service design business was slowing with the economy. His desire to explore his passion for bbq and potential ventures had him relishing the opportunities.
Mike approached Chris with the request for him to ‘offer some creative graphic thoughts and ideas’ for a bbq rub company that Mike might pursue somewhere down the road, and , “Oh, by the way, what do you think of the name The Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company?” Nature Boy couldn’t help but answer back with the rhetorical question. “So, do you have a partner in this new venture yet?”
Now it is a community
made up of the
best darn people.
Chris and Mike developed the first original spice blends, Dizzy Dust, Cow Lick, Raging River, and Tsunami Spin. While friends and family graciously taste-tested the flavors, Chris and Mike realized that blind and unbiased testers were needed, so the Dizzy Pig Barbecue Competition Team was formed.
The team made its competitive debut in August 2002 at the New Holland Summerfest in New Holland, Pennsylvania. This competition, and most of the ones entered since, was sanctioned by KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society), which used ‘blind box’ judging to determine a winner. This approach allowed for each team to remain anonymous to the judges and seems to us to be the fairest way of judging barbecue and testing Dizzy Pig’s spice blends. Since New Holland, the team has cooked over 100 competitions with over half of those being top-10 overall finishes, including 15 grand championships and four more with the Dizzy Pig North team from Canada.
In 2003, Chris abandoned his business in graphic design and made Dizzy Pig his full-time job. At his home in Fairfax, Virginia, Chris blended, bottled, and shipped with the help of family and friends. The company had a steady growth and everything was going well up until 2006. During a family visit at Chris’s, an ember from his grill rolled 20 feet into his home. Tragically, his home and business in Fairfax caught fire and burned down. Thankfully, Chris, Lan, his wife, their 11-year-old twin daughters, and family members safely escaped.
However, there were silver linings. Brian Junkins, a fellow Big Green Egger, knew of Chris through the BGE forum and lived about a hour West of Fairfax. Over the forum, news about Chris’s home circulated quickly. Even though Brian didn’t know Chris personally, he brought food to Chris and his family. Later on, Brian and Chris became great friends and equals on the Dizzy Pig Barbecue Competition team. Soon after, the business continued to grow as his home was rebuilt.
A few years later, the business had out-grown Chris’s home. In nearby Manassas, Virginia, Dizzy Pig has gone from leasing a building for spice blending and bottling to buying their own space for both the spices and a storefront for barbecue grilling supplies.
We are lucky to
say the least.
Dizzy Pig continues to grow. We are building a new bigger and better headquarters down the street from our current location. Chris is consistently in the test kitchen working on new spice blends. More importantly, our network of friends and family is growing exponentially.
Like the Big Green Egg, Dizzy Pig has grown into a community of some of the best people who share recipes, tips, cooking techniques, and the passion & love for cooking. The community goes beyond the customers to their own employees. All of the people who work or have worked at Dizzy Pig share some sort of expertise in cooking and have occasionally helped out with the barbecue competition team. The good people that surround Dizzy Pig make it feel more like a bunch of a friends and family and not just another company that supplies spice blends.
Cooking his own pancakes and eggs as a 10 year old, Chris was curious enough about cooking to dive in…plus it was cool making animal shapes out of the pancakes! He then moved onto fancier items like grilled cheese sandwiches and coffee cake using the recipe on the side of the Bisquick box. In 1974 he did his first cook on a gas grill, and being a “Nature Boy”, cooking outdoors was the best of both worlds! His 1988 marriage to his lovely wife exposed him to a large family of fabulous Asian cooks, where he continued learning about the unique flavors used on the other side of the world.
20-some years after Chris’ first cook on a gas grill, he made a life-changing purchase of a ceramic smoker called a Big Green Egg. After spending several years absorbing all he could about true BBQ, Chris felt a need to vent some of his creative energy. He wanted to combine his extensive knowledge of spices and flavors from all over the world with his knowledge of true barbecue cooking….and this is a big part of the uniqueness of Dizzy Pig products. Chris has also taken his BBQ team to over 100 professional competitions and won 15 grand championships.
Other interests include backpacking, fishing, canoeing, gardening and sharing these passions with his wife and twin daughters.
Mike Kerslake, or ‘Qfan’ as he is known in the BBQ community, cut his teeth in the kitchen cooking up steaks, eggs and his ‘famous’ pound cake recipe (which, in hind-sight, weighed more like 5 or 6 lbs!).
The first hint of BBQ prowess came in the late teens when he mastered the “Mikey Burger”; a 2 lb burger that sustained more than one beer-saturated young Canuck in its heyday! After his father received a top-shelf Ducane gas grill as a Christmas bonus, he was off to the races, creating bbq pizza, boiled-then-grilled ribs, nachos, steaks, fajitas etc…
Life in an apartment slowed the Qfan’s BBQ progress through the mid-90’s, but the purchase of a detached home in late 90’s went with an agreement with the Mrs that a ‘real’ BBQ would have to occupy the deck space upon purchase. That agreement led to the Big Green Egg ceramic bbq/grill, which the Qfan is still working at learning and mastering. The rest of the story is still being written…