BBQ Buddha: Where There's Smoke
BBQ Buddha owner Ray Sheehan has a very ambitious goal: to make the best-tasting all-natural barbecue condiments. His products, which are free of trans fats, gluten and peanuts, contain no artificial flavors or colors.
The company’s Memphis Mop BBQ Sauce and Belly Rub spice rub are available at Monmouth Meats (Red Bank), Pat’s Market (Lincroft), and other locations in New Jersey and along the East Coast—and they’re winning accolades across the barbecue circuit. Not too shabby for a company that just celebrated its one-year anniversary. EJ caught up with Sheehan while he was headed to Virginia and North Carolina on a research mission.
“I always had a love for barbecue,” says the Long Branch native and Florida Culinary Institute graduate. “I started helping out a competitive team, [and] some of the sauces I made were well received. There was this fire lit under me and I thought, ‘I’ve got to try this and see what happens.’”
Sheehan studied under Tuffy Stone from TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters and under online barbecue retailer Bob Trudnak, “The BBQ Guru.” He continued to test his products among his peers until he was ready to launch the company. Recently the chef, pit master and barbecue judge released BBQ Buddha’s Kansas City BBQ sauce and Zen Steak Rub, just in time for fall grilling.
The new sauce is “a touch thinner than most Kansas City sauces,” says Sheehan. “It’s smoky and has real sugar, so it won’t melt on the grill,” unlike corn syrup. As for the rub, it’s “herby and peppery. We use kosher salt so it doesn’t break down the meat too much.”
The company recently competed in the Historic New Castle Colonial BBQ competition in Delaware, where it finished in the top ten. The Kansas City sauce took fifth place in the chicken category in the 2016 Sauces of Honor competition held by National Barbecue News.
BBQ Buddha, Sheehan stresses, “is not some big corporation. It’s a way of life.” —Marisa Procopio