From the top of his cowboy hat to the tip of his boots, to the lingering aroma of smoke on his apron, competitive barbecuer, Dennis Westerlin, is exactly as one imagines a Texas born and bred pit master to be: a shiny Lone Star who is able to deliver the mouth-watering goods.
“Dennis is passionate about several things, the constant being his love of cooking chili and barbecuing meat,” says former McKinney High School classmate and friend Greg Moorhead, “Even his agricultural degree [from East Texas State University] is in Meat Science!”
For the past fifteen years, Westerlin, and his crew of family and friends have competed in chili and barbecue competitions garnering numerous awards and titles while placing in the top ten in multiple categories more often than not. Westerlin competes in sanctioned events within the Lone Star Barbecue Society (LSBS), as well as, the International Barbecue Cookers Association (IBCA), and has recently qualified once again to compete as a finalist at the North Texas State Fair’s Summer Showdown, where he has placed multiple times, including Grand Champion in 2008. This year’s Summer Showdown is slated to begin Saturday, August 20th, and conclude Sunday, August 21st.
Even when not competing, Westerlin enjoys adding to his already expert level base of knowledge by reading more about barbecue, technique, and the finer points of the sport.
“I read tons of books,” says Westerlin, “It’s part of it. You never stop learning.”
As a welding teacher with the Texas Youth Commission, Westerlin shares both his philosophy of life-long learning and his passion for barbeque with his young charges, while teaching the necessary skills needed to become certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), a not-for-profit education foundation whose mission is “to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals.”
“I teach the kids how to weld and even how to build smokers,” says Westerlin of the 16 to 19 year old students he instructs, “It takes about six months, or 235 hours of actual time to build one. Once completed, I cook for the kids to celebrate and let them enjoy their sense of accomplishment.”
“The one phrase that comes to mind when I think of Dennis Westerlin,” says Moorhead, “is salt of the earth.”
To be described as salt of the earth is to be “regarded as the finest of his kind” or as we say in Texas, a shiny Lone Star who is able to deliver the mouth-watering goods; which to be sure, fellow barbecuers, students, family and friends of Westerlin surely agree.
TSB would like to congratulate Dennis Westerlin on his accomplishments, and wish him the best of luck in the upcoming North Texas State Fair Summer Showdown.