Who Is Cujo’s Big Smoke BBQ?
Jerry Calloway runs Cujo’s Big Smoke B-B-Q, which combines the flavor of Louisiana with the barbecue cooking style of Texas.
Thirteen years ago, I gave up my 17-year career to follow in my father’s footsteps. After working for so many years for corporations, I decided I wanted to work for myself. Even when I was an Engineer I wanted to own a restaurant.
I grew up the youngest in a family of 12, along with one nephew in Grambling, Louisiana, where my family gatherings centered on cooking big meals, which included barbecues and fish fries every Friday night. We were very close and we come from an old family with old traditions.
Since we lived on a farm, we raised our own cows, pigs and chickens, and grew our own vegetables, we never bought these things. The only things we bought were salt, pepper, sugar, flour and cornmeal. We had a 250-acre farm that was complete with its smokehouse. My father was a well-known pit master, like a cook on a wagon trail. He was responsible for cooking the meals for large groups of people. At the age of six, I began helping my father, and would accompany him on three-day hunting expeditions where we would cook whole hogs overnight in the ground with hickory coal.
My daddy did all the big cooking and we would help, that’s where my passion came from. But the most important thing I picked up from my father was how to cook and maintain a full-course meal outside without using microwaves or freezers a tradition I continue to carry on today.
Cujo’s Big Smoke barbecue sauce or mud rub comes from a secret Cajun family recipe that is sweet in taste and is smoked on the pit just like my meats. The reason why it is called mud rub is because it sticks to the meat. It allows the seasoning to stick to the meat while cooking.
I later moved to Texas where I attended Prairie View A&M University, but I didn’t leave my roots behind and soon found a use for my childhood experiences. I learned to cook Texas style barbecue, which is long slow cooking in a smoke chamber indirectly heated by the fire source and continuous moisture.
While I was attending college I would barbecue to make money on the side. As a college baseball player, I traveled to different cities and one day, while driving in Louisiana I could smell the scent of home and I began banging on the bus and yelling in excitement. “Cujo” was a popular movie at the time and my teammates started calling me Cujo, which became my college fraternity name and my nickname, finally becoming the name of my business.
We smoke our meats on Big Smoke, a three-chambered Texas-sized barbecue pit designed from beer cans. We have the ability to cook 480 slabs of ribs at one time. We use mesquite and hickory woods to naturally smoke our meats, including baby back ribs, pork spare ribs, tri-tip, brisket, hot links and chicken.
I don’t believe in propane, it takes away the natural flavor and the juices, and it dries out the meat.
The juices that fall from the meat down into the wood become steam, which helps to retain the moisture in the meats. Cujo’s Big Smoke B-B-Q has barbecued at many local events, including Route 66 Rendezvous, the Orange Blossom Festival, the Grape Harvest Festival and NASCAR. The guys from North and South Carolina only want country cooking.
While driving through the area in 1989 to visit family, my wife Terria and I stumbled upon Rancho Cucamonga. When we first came here it was mostly populated by orange orchards and grape vines, it was the most romantic and quiet place you could ever live in 1989. In 1999, my wife and I settled in Rancho Cucamonga because we wanted to raise our daughters Kiara and Karrie in a good area with an excellent education system.
Although, I cook at my kitchen four or five days a week, I plan to open up my own restaurant in the near future.
Letters from Our Satisfied Customers!
I’ve had your BBQ on many occassions thru KFRG and I just wanted to post some postive feedback on your website! The best BBQ around! I agree with the other gentleman…. blows Lucille’s out of the water!! Please, please open your restaurant soon so everyone can enjoy Cujo’s cookin’!!!
Just wanted to pass along the guest at my party were just ecstatic with how good the food was. The ribs and chicken were excellent…I especially loved the chicken…it just fell of the bone! I enjoyed your cooking…and the flavors were great. The only negative feedback I got from some guests was about the ribs not being ready when the chicken was…something I’ll just pass along since I’m sure you like to know what guest say! But other than that everyone had only positive things to say and Cujo’s Big Smoke BBQ was a huge hit! Thanks for being part of what made my daughter’s graduation party a huge success!!!
I ran across your website as a link on KFROG 95.1 I was searching through your site with the hopes of finding a location nearby (I live in Ontario, CA so Rancho Cucamonga is in my backyard so to speak) so that I could get a taste of you BBQ that makes my mouth water just reading about it! It is so difficult to find good BBQ these days.
I was disappointed that you don’t yet have a restaurant location but that you plan on opening one in the future. If you keep a customer mailing list, I would appreciate being added to it so I could be one of your first customers once you open your restaurant.
In the meantime if you will be catering a public event such as those that you have in the past, I will try to visit one of them. Although I was born and raised in California, I have southern roots (Dad was from Georgia and my Great Grandmother and Grandmother were from the Lake Charles area of Louisiana.) from my personnel experience, I have never met a bad cook from the south. They may not be fancy, but they sure make some good ribsticking comfort food!
I wish you the best of luck with your BBQ endeavors.
A Customer in Waiting!
Thank you ever so much for the wonderful selection of BBQ last night. They could not stop talking about how wonderful everything was the best BBQ they have had. When it’s my turn to bring dinner again I will be calling you.
Randi was going to call you today as well, I brought here some of the leftovers of which there were plenty. Thanks again everything was delicious. Better than Lucille’s. Can you pick-up at your store last minute or does everything need to be preordered?