LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Some may know Chris Freels and Andy Walker as friends, since the duo grew up together. Others – perhaps acquaintances – may only see them as business partners, since the pair owns a flooring store together. However, a large amount of people know Freels and Walker solely by their competitive grilling and smoking moniker – The Sons of Smoke.
Freels and Walker make up one of the teams competing in this weekend’s Grills Gone Wild event at the Laurel County Optimist Center. The event, hosted by the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission, will see over 40 teams competing to see who can smoke and grill the best chicken, pork ribs, pork, and beef brisket.
For Freels and Walker, the competition will be the end product of hard work and paid dues.
“We do a lot of catering and special events,” Freels said. “We’re cooking at least three weekends a month in the summer. We use that money to pay for competitions. I would do it every weekend if I could – I’d travel the world cookin’.”
Freels and Walker got the idea to begin competitive grilling and smoking by simply watching the hit television show, “BBQ Pitmasters.” The duo have friends who compete in events, and decided to accompany them to a competition in Cleveland, Tenn. There, they saw Myron Mixon and Johnny Trigg – two stars from “BBQ Pitmasters.” It wasn’t long until they began competing against them.
“It’s just a blast,” Freels said. “We went to a few competitions as spectators before deciding we had to compete.”
Today – two years later – Freels and Walker are the Sons of Smoke, named after another favorite television show, “Sons of Anarchy.” The team even has a logo similar to the biker patch featured on the show, which consists of a reaper with a scythe. Walker and Freels’ rendition features a reaper holding a pig.