Chow Town

The daily dish on Kansas City's food and drink scene

Where there’s smoke, there’s opportunity to bring barbecue history into classroom

10/24/2013 12:06 PM

10/24/2013 12:39 PM

What do Chow Town third graders know about Kansas City barbecue? It depends upon their school, the curriculum and their teachers.

Third graders at Westwood View Elementary in Westwood are the most barbecue-savvy third graders in Chow Town today.

On a good day, suburban prairie winds treat their nostrils to the aroma of hardwood smoke from meat fires at Oklahoma Joe’s on 47th Avenue and Mission Road. Rebecca Blizzard and Jana Winkelbauer, third grade teachers at Westwood View, make sure their students do more than smell the barbecue.

When their fall curriculum focuses on Kansas City history, an important chunk of that history is spelled “B-B-Q.” By the time they are finished, the students can tell you:

• What barbecue is and isn’t.

• Why and when barbecue got started in Kansas City.

• How Kansas City become famous for barbecue.

Blizzard and Winkelbauer bring Kansas City barbecue history to life by inviting local barbecue experts to meet with their students. After a review of the what, why, when and how of Kansas City barbecue, students are introduced to a local pitmaster.

What’s it like to operate a barbecue business? How and why did you get involved in it? How much barbecue do you sell in a week? What’s your most popular item? Do you ever get tired of barbecue? And the questions roll on.

The school’s Chow Town Barbecue Royalty guests thus far have been Johnny White of Johnny’s Bar-B-Q in Mission and Olathe; Ron Quick of Earl Quick’s in Kansas City, Kan; Doug Worgul of Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kan., Olathe and Leawood; Case Dorman of Jack Stack in Kansas City, Martin City and Overland Park, Kan., and Gary Berbiglia of Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City and Village West in Kansas City, Kan.

Last week, Gary Berbiglia and his wife, Roxane, returned to Westwood View for an encore engagement. Imagine the thrill of meeting the owners of the most famous barbecue restaurant in the world.

Gary told the students that Mr. Bryant often humbly remarked, “It’s just a greasehouse.”

Gary reviewed the restaurant’s legacy from Henry Perry to present-day, including Mr. Bryant’s original signature vinegar base sauce that is a longtime favorite of Arthur Bryant fans. They also learned about Gary’s new Sweet Heat and Rich and Spicy smooth tomato base sauces for customers who like it sweet.

After the lively Q A, Westwood View Pythons took the official Kansas City Barbeque Society judges’ oath and chowed down on Arthur Bryant’s barbecue beef or turkey sandwiches, pork ribs, pit beans, dill pickle chips, Rich and Spicy sauce and a gigantic chocolate chip cookie.

Learning doesn’t get more hands on than that! Their oohs and ahhs resonated all the way to 47th Avenue.

Westwood View Elementary third graders and yours truly applaud Gary and Roxy Berbiglia, Chow Town Barbecue Rock Stars.

Ardie Davis is an iconic figure in the barbecue community. He founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS’s Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on numerous food shows and writes for a variety of barbecue-related publications. He is also the author of a number of barbecue books, His most recent release book is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”

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