Barbecue makes Spencer man a star

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 30, 2012

SPENCER — Jack Moore has been trying to keep a secret all summer. Problem is, he told about a thousand people what it was, then asked them not to tell anybody until the official announcement.
Moore, creator and distributor of Blowin’ Smoke barbecue sauce, is going to be a television star.
On a 9 p.m. Aug. 19 episode of the Travel Channel’s new series, “All You Can Meat,” Moore cooks ribs for — and with — host Chuey Martinez at the Spencer Little League Ballpark on Eighth Street.
Moore’s wife, Jeannie says, she has the perfect headline for this story about her husband’s being on television:
“Look Out, Swamp People.”
Jack Moore stews on that a bit.
“I’m kind of thinking that’s a slam on me,” he says.
Moore loves the way everything came together for his segment on the Travel Channel Show, which has Martinez traveling across America “in search of the nation’s most mouth-watering, succulent and perfect cuts of meat,” according to promotion material.
The Aug. 19 episode is all about ribs.
Moore thinks the show will be great for the town of Spencer, the Little League and, yes, his Blowin’ Smoke barbecue sauce.
He credits Mayor Jody Everhart and Town Manager Larry Smith with quickly signing the necessary releases for Magnetic Productions to shoot the segment at the Eighth Street park.
Willie Noles and Phip Sparger made sure the field itself could be available on the day of the shoot.
Jeff Holshouser, coach of the Blowin’ Smoke Bombers, provided his players as diners. At the end of the day, the youngsters eagerly cleaned Moore’s television ribs to the bone.
Best ribs he has ever eaten, Bombers pitcher Maddux Holshouser says.
“Pretty good,” agrees Ethan Swicegood, a third baseman on the team, “because the barbecue sauce is very good.”
No, these comments were not scripted.
Moore also gives a nod to three friends he asked to be on hand during the filming — Jeff Clifton, Wilson Cherry and Tim Witkowski.
Though he can carry any conversation, Moore thought he might need these talkative friends for support, in case he became camera shy.
“I was a little bit worried about Jack on TV, I’ll tell you,” Moore says of himself.
It turns out his friends were in the background off camera, giving Moore a lot of grief. “They were over there making fun of me, smirking,” Moore complains.
As always, Moore cooked his ribs for the television show on the trusty cooker that he can hitch to his truck and take anywhere.
“The fact that I can cook darn good barbecue promotes my sauce,” Moore says.
He set up the cooker on the parking lot side of the outfield fence in left-field. And the table for eating, borrowed from Emil Sparger’s house just up the street, was placed in foul territory, not far from Moore’s Blowin’ Smoke advertising sign.
Moore used his original Blowin’ Smoke thick sauce on the 15 racks of ribs, and he can’t say enough good things about working with the energetic Martinez.
“I predict he’s going to be the next George Lopez,” Moore says.
Martinez played football at Arizona State University, was a pro wrestler and is a radio and television personality in Los Angeles, when he’s not traveling the country tasting meats.
He helped Moore turn, cook and pack the ribs.
“And he enjoyed eating the ribs, though he said mine were not the best he had eaten,” Moore says.
That was about the only disagreement Moore and Martinez had April 24 when the segment was shot.
Martinez found time to yuck it up with some of the Bomber players on the field. The big guy looked pretty funny with one of those Little League helmets pressed about a third of the way down his head, Moore says.
“He wasn’t much of a pitcher,” Moore adds.
As for his own acting abilities, Moore tried to be himself and follow the director’s suggestions on what to talk about as the ribs were cooking. The best thing the director told him was not to worry — they could do a lot of editing later, or simply do another take.
“Once I got that in my head, I barely made any mistakes,” Moore says.
The film crew took three to four hours that day, Moore says, and he realizes his part on the Aug. 19 show might last only three or four minutes.
But that’s what comes with stardom.
Over the last several years, Moore has put his sauce in about 200 different locations, most of them independently owned places.
Kristie Shore, of the Olde World Meat Market in Winston-Salem, connected Magnetic Productions of Minneapolis, Minn., with Moore.
A producer called Shore one day looking for good backyard barbecuers in North Carolina and she said, “I got your guy.”
Many telephone conversations between Moore and the production company followed. One weekend, a scout of sorts traveled to Salisbury to record some test footage of Moore during one of his cooks.
Moore wasn’t happy. The young guy arrived about 7:30 in the morning after Moore had stayed up all night cooking Boston butts at Rusher Tire for a school fundraiser.
Moore was worn out, his eyes were bloodshot, and he just wasn’t on his game.
The producer assured him later that everything was all right, but when she said, “Oh, Jack, we love you, you’re going to be great,” Moore considered it television’s kiss of death.
“This was ol’ Jack being kicked to the curb,” he says.
But he received a call back. He hoped the show could film him cooking Boston butts for an event at Johnson Concrete, but the producer said it had to be ribs.
Plus, things had to come together quickly.
At first, Moore proposed cooking ribs at his house and taking them to Newman Park for the Catawba College baseball team.
“I cook for them a lot,” he says. But Coach Jim Gantt warned the NCAA might present a hurdle. At the minimum, a lot of releases would have to be signed.
That’s when Moore thought of the Little League team he sponsors in Spencer. The town officials, his friends at the ballpark and Holshouser came through under deadline pressure.
It proved to be the perfect place. The 59-year-old Moore grew up in Spencer and played at this same field as a youngster in the 1960s.
His team then was called the Sims Texaco Bombers, and he played with guys named Wishon, Patterson, Bringle, Beck and Sparger, to name a few.
“We dominated,” Moore said.
Holshouser’s Bombers played well this year, too. They won the regular season championship before losing in the championship game of the playoffs.
Moore also sponsors a girls softball team, which plays most of its games at Salisbury’s park off Hurley School Road. They are called the Blowin’ Smoke Bombshells.
Moore is proud of that name.
When the April television shoot was finished, Moore gave the racks he had left over to the crew for their trip back to the hotel.
Moore noticed later that their vehicle hadn’t left the parking lot. Before he could walk toward them to see if they needed help, he saw bones flying out the windows.
They weren’t waiting to dig into those ribs.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or
When: 9 p.m. Aug. 19
Where: An episode on Travel Channel’s “All You Can Meat” series.
Featuring: Jack Moore of Spencer
What: Host Chuey Martinez is on a quest for America’s best ribs. He tries it all, from award-winning barrel-smoked ribs in Kansas City, Mo., to traditional Texas-style beef ribs in Austin, Texas, to Moore’s ribs, cooked for the Blowin’ Smoke Bombers baseball team in Spencer, N.C.
Additional notes: “All You Can Meat” premieres at 10 p.m. Aug. 12 with back-to-back episodes on the Travel Channel before moving to its regular time slot at 9 p.m. Aug. 19. Other shows feature meats such as steak, pulled pork, brisket, jerky and more.