Here's a Jim Lampe photo you don't see every day

Chris Allingham

Staff member
Here's how it happened from my perspective.

I got an email from the writer Anne Marie Chaker. She was working on an article about low & slow barbecue and wanted to ask me some questions. She was also looking for referrals to people who were really into barbecuing that she could interview. She had already interviewed Jamie Purviance and when asked for such referrals, he suggested that she contact The Virtual Weber Bullet.

Before my phone call with Anne Marie, I put together a short list of people and contacted each one, asking if I could pass along their name and email address. Some said yes, some said no, some didn't respond.

On May 17, I had a 30 minute phone interview. Anne Marie wanted to know about my background and how I'd come to develop TVWB and TVWBB. She had lots of questions about barbecue trends and popularity and techniques and equipment. In fact, it was that conversation that spurred my musing about the popularity of barbecue and is a "barbecue bubble" developing.

At the end of our conversation, she asked if I could recommend anyone for interviews, and I gave her the names and emails of those who had responded in the affirmative.

On May 20, we had a much shorter phone call. Anne Marie said she'd talked to several of the folks I'd referred and all were great, but one stood out—Jim Lampe. She was thinking about sending a photographer out to his house on WSM Smoke Day. She wasn't so much asking for my approval as I think she was asking for confirmation that Jim would be a good subject. I said that I thought he was a great candidate.

Here's the part Jim doesn't know...she asked me very sheepishly, "I hate to ask this...but what does he look like?" Ha! And fair enough, right? You're shooting a story for the WSJ and you want someone who's at least somewhat photogenic! I told her that Jim looks like Mr. Clean but with a beard. I said that he's quite a character, a tremendous Weber enthusiast, a tremendous grilling and barbecuing enthusiast, that he's built a pavilion in which he does all his cooking, he has an arsenal of grills and smokers, and he's located in Wisconsin, in the Heartland of America. As they say on House Hunters, Jim Lampe "ticks all the boxes" of what you're looking for. I followed up by sending links to this photo of Jim and this photo and this photo of his Pigvilion.

I guess that photo of Jim didn't hurt matters, because shortly thereafter, Jim contacted me saying that they were sending out a photographer on May 24. He sounded nervous. He needed to gather some family members, and fast, because they wanted photos with people enjoying the barbecue process and the food. Jim expressed some concern about being a good representative of TVWBB, and I said not to worry about that. Not a burden you have to shoulder. Just do your thing and have a good time and I'm sure that will come through in the photographs, and I think it did!

I never heard from Anne Marie after that. I only learned about the publication date from Jim, who heard it from Anne Marie and told me on May 30 that June 4 would be the publication date.

Jim sent me a note saying a bit about his experience that day. When he gets in front of an *actual* keyboard ;) maybe he'll share some details of how his Smoke Day went, to the extent he wishes to share.

As I've already said, great exposure for a great guy! And great exposure for Weber and the WSM!


Doggone it Chris. If you had properly planned your trip to the land of cheese, you would have been in Raymond for the event.

The photos of Jim & the Pigvillion are really great. They picked the right venue.

Matt Gard

TVWBB All-Star
Thats absolutely amazing and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy. Since I've been on this site Jim has always been full of helpful advice and my personal bbq knowledge has been expanded greatly just from looking at his cooks. Well done Jim!

Jim Lampe

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
thank you again everyone:eek: i'm glad this thing is over!
it was fun, but leading up to Smoke Day 10 was not my idea of a good time.
I was very nervous yet everyone that knew about it told me to relax & flow with it.
I guess my biggest fear was turning out bad ribs.

Chris, I love the part: "I hate to ask this...but..."

Anyway, I remember sending Bob Correll an email telling him what was happening and saying they're thinking of sending a photographer.
THAT freaked me out the most.
WHY a photographer? I asked Bob, "is it too late to chicken out of this?"

backtracking a bit, when I was talking with Anne Marie on the phone the Monday before Smoke Day, everything was mellow...
she was asking easy questions anyone would answer... then I think she asked about how often I cook outside.
well, I told her almost everyday but only smoke once or twice a week. And in the cold and snow?
Then I told her about the enclosed pavilion where I can cook in winter...
she asked if I could email her a photo of it and I did.
and I told her this coming Saturday is Smoke Day 10 (she remembered then that Chris also told her about it).

When she received the photo of the Pigvilion and told her I was planning on smoking two or 3 racks of ribs on Saturday, she got a little excited... I think.
That's when I should have stopped. "Oh, Can you gather a group of friends for us...?"
I thought this was ONLY talk, an interview.... next thing I know i'm agreeing to let her send a camera here to photo-shoot the entire deal.

well, it's Thursday before Smoke Day and everyone we know is going to Wautoma Wisconsin for the weekend (usual thing). So liz sends out an email anyway stating this thing with the Wall Street paper and Smoke Day and ribs and...
but everyone is going out of town or working or busy....
and i'm thinking, I am not going to have anyone here to eat this food. Maybe i'll just cook two racks and the photographer will be bored and go home.

then, responses came in via email....
nearly everyone was now coming over.
Big Sigh. ok.
Party time.

lots to be done.
sides of the Pigvilion need to be removed, lawn trimmed and mowed, house cleaned, dog to the groomer, some groceries are needed...
and I promised the writer i'd make ATBs.
(cleaned the peppers, stuffed and wrapped them at 11pm Friday night with help from some smooth Cuban rhum;) )

to cut this short, I was kinda ready for Sara (the photographer) to show up Saturday... just had two quick errands to run before she arrived...
but once she got here, it was bangBANGbang... just what I do to get and stay on schedule for a long cook if you want to eat at a certain time.
She was Great! Make me feel real comfortable, like we've known each other for years...

once everything was on, she shot a lot of photos of anything and everything then left about 2pm.
She returned about 330 when guests were to arrive, but there were 8 here already at that time.

Dinner was planned for 430 to 5.
She shot more photos of people just eating hor'dourves (she loved the Buffalo Turds) and just mingling...

looking at the ribs about 430, I decided to wait until 5 to remove them.
And I was happy to see how they looked. Now, how do they taste???

I used 5 different rubs over the 7 racks. I cannot name to this day. But they were pretty good. The ribs. :)
Ended up with just under two racks leftover (3 vegetarians in the crowd).
The thing that really sticks out in my memory is the smell of the pork as I was cutting them outside...
the air was filled with this AWESOME barbecue aroma.... it was quite Amazing!! and I can STILL smell it!
It was Perfect!

Again, I thank you all for your wonderful comments and hope everyone here gets the chance to experience something like this.
It was fun. Really was.
But I'm glad it's over. :D

John Solak

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Great back stories Chris and Jim, thanks for the insight!!!

Jim, I am guilty of it too but am getting better at controlling it, relax, worrying is just a wasted effort. Most things turn out just fine, maybe not the way you thought they would but they usually do. Even if they don't there isn't much you can do about about it so relax and enjoy yourself. Yes it is easier said than done but I am working on it and am much happier.

Greg B.

Wow that is so awesome Jim! Looks like it was pretty hectic behind the scenes, but you got through it.