Barbecue legend Paul Schatte passes away in Ponca City
PONCA CITY—Paul Schatte first came to Oklahoma to educate the children of Kay county and did, but along the way he built a legacy on championship barbecue.
Schatte died on his farm on Sunday, he was 62.
The long-time Head Country Barbecue pitmaster and executive would’ve turned 63 today. In honor of that, a prayer vigil is planned tonight at 8:30 p.m. in front of the school cafeteria at First Lutheran School.
The site of Schatte’s memorial service is the place where he worked for 20 years before finding barbecue glory. Schatte started at First Lutheran School in 1979, shortly after graduating from Concordia University in Seward, Kan. He and his wife, Shelly, came to the school as elementary teachers.
Paul taught nine years while working towards his Master’s Degree in Administration from Oklahoma State University, which allowed him to become principal of the school for 11 years.
All along, the Houston-native harbored a passion for eating and making barbecue, “hot and fast.” The practice dated back to his youth in Houston, where his father Ed taught him to make brisket, ribs and chicken while they tended to weekend chores.
Schatte’s first competition came in 1990 at the Ponca City Cherokee Strip competition, with his father as partner. Paul and Ed’s brisket would only finish fifth in the backyard competition, but it led them to an introduction to Danny Head.
They would quickly team up and a legend was born. Head and Schatte would lead two barbecue teams under the Head Country banner to numerous ribbons around the country, including the American Royal, Great American BBQ and the 1994 Grand Champion title from the Jack Daniel World Invitational Barbecue Championship — Oklahoma’s first win at that competition.