The inner workings

Dwain Pannell

TVWBB Hall of Fame
First off thanks for agreeing to do this.

Characters have come and gone, you've moved service providers, you've been doing TVWB and TVWBB for over a decade, etc, etc.. Reflect for us: Describe some of the highs and lows, people, places, things, etc that you've seen and done in connection with BBQ, Weber, and this project.
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Chris Allingham

Staff member
Highs include:

  • Receiving a pre-release 22.5" WSM from Weber in August, 2008 and being invited to visit Weber HQ in Palatine to meet with the product development and marketing teams to share my feedback on the product. I had the privilege of meeting Erich Schlosser, the brains behind the original WSM. And I got to cook on the front patio of the Weber offices in the shadow of the original brick patio barbecue belonging to George Stephen himself. And I got to see the most amazing collection of vintage Weber grills scattered throughout the office. And did I mention the conference room filled with Weber and George Stephen memorabilia? I still get excited thinking about that day... :)
  • Attending the Paul Kirk barbecue class in May, 1997. I had my WSM for just a month at that point and I'd never cooked a brisket or pork butt until that class. It was a long, exhausting day, but it really got me pointed in the right direction. Thanks to Frank Boyer and CBBQA for organizing that event in the back parking lot of Armadillo Willy's in Los Altos!
  • Honestly, attending Harry Soo's class last weekend was a real high! It's amazing to watch someone so skilled do his thing in front of a class of eager students and give of himself so freely. I'll never forget that and the amazing food he and Donna prepared for us! As Harry says, "Live, Love, Laugh, BBQ, and Give".
  • Doing the Little Red Bullet Project was a ton of fun and for a very good cause.
  • Starting up WSM Smoke Day at the suggestion of Joel Kiess has been a wonderful social event each year that I feel really good about.
  • Having a cheap Italian dinner at Pasta Pomodoro in Union City in 2004 with Jim Minion while he was in town on a business trip. He gave me a 2004 Jack Daniel's BBQ t-shirt that I still wear and cherish to this day. I gave him a bottle of California sparkling wine. I think I got the better end of the deal.
  • And I've got something else coming up soon (hopefully) that will be another high, but I can't say anything yet. How's that for a tease? :)
I think the single biggest challenge was getting off our old software platform and onto vBulletin with a new hosting service. As I mentioned in another post, we were originally on Ultimate Bulletin Board running on a PC. When we outgrew that, we moved to a hosted version called Infopop Groupee (later called Social Strata Eve). That wasn't a very popular platform, and there was no easy migration from it to anything else. I really felt like we were stuck, and the price of hosting with them was really going through the roof. I was getting killed each month on overage fees for bandwidth and disc space. I was lucky to find the nice people at that helped me make the not-so-easy transition to vBulletin and a much more affordable hosting plan in July, 2012. Whew!

I've had a chance to interact with some really great people over the years, many of which have sort of drifted off in various directions. Examples include Kevin Taylor ("Stogie") and Jim Minion. I also had a close-knit group of guys that I worked with at HP that became WSM fans over the years with me, and we had fun enjoying BBQ together, but all moved away from the SF Bay Area back to their birthplaces, got married, had kids, and we all got busy with life, as tends to happen. Still love those guys, and I sometimes miss those days...

As for low points, I think most of those have to do with difficult interactions with people. I like to be liked, I like things to go smoothly, I don't like controversy, I just want everyone to get along and for everything to be easy. There's a great quote by Herbert Bayard Swope, the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Reporting, that says, "I can't give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time." That's got me written all over it...trying to please everybody all the time.

But things don't always go that way. I've done some dumb things over the years, made some mistakes, and probably rubbed a few people the wrong way. But it's always been with the goal of keeping this discussion forum relevant and useful and friendly. I sometimes have gotten it wrong, but more often than not, I've gotten it right. Hopefully I have learned from my mistakes and won't repeat them moving forward. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. :)

Having said that, the few difficult interactions I've had with people are far outweighed by the wonderful people I've meet online though The Virtual Weber Bullet and these discussion forums. It's a lot of work, and sometimes it feels like a thankless job, but then I get an email from someone saying that they dusted-off an old grill and used information found here to successfully make a meal for their family and they felt like a hero. Or someone catered their daughter's wedding reception using info they found here. Or someone sends me a photo of them grilling with their grandchild. Or I occasionally meet someone in-person and they shake my hand and tell me how useful they have found all of this...and that makes it all worthwhile.

I should have mentioned this last part is the "highs" section above. :)
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Bob Correll

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Very nice insight into you as a person Chris.
The one member most of us, if not all, know the least about. :)

Chris Allingham

Staff member
Well, as I mentioned in another thread, I am not the life of the party. I'm kind of an introvert, I'm not a gregarious, social person, so it's not in my nature to talk a lot about myself. Answering some of these questions is a bit of a stretch for a good way, I think. :)

Robert McGee

TVWBB Gold Member
This Forum has certainly elevated my level of BBQ production! You may "work behind the scenes" but most of us realize who is responsible for the finest cooking show on earth - tvwbb!!

Thank you, Chris, for all that you do and provide for us!

Keep on smokin',

John Sp

TVWBB All-Star
Great and thoughtful response Chris - I have learned a lot here and hope to continue doing so...




Thanks, Chris for your labor of love for this website. It has altered the course of my days and nights ever since I stumbled upon it in the past month. Since then, I've made a wsm mini build, bought two more Weber grills (Q200 on CL for $50, a 22.5 silver on CL for $30), made my first beer can chicken, and smoked a few racks of ribs. It's been a delight to come home after work, light up the grill, and cook some hearty meat for my family of 5. I look forward to my next smoke! (or Weber grill!)