This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Alpine • Roger and Rod Livingston might be considered Utah's best barbecue brothers.
This year, the 52-year-old twins, who co-own a mortgage business, have been smokin' the competition during sanctioned barbecue events.
In May and June, the siblings better known as the R&R BBQ Team earned first place or "grand champion" titles at three different events, including the state championships in Heber City. In July, they took second, or "reserve champion," at a contest at the Boise Music Festival.
The team now will represent Utah in three of the country's most prestigious barbecue competitions: the American Royal World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City, Mo.; the International Barbecue Cookers Association (IBCA) Championship in Texas; and the Sam's U.S. Championships, which is limited to just 50 teams and offers $100,000 in prizes.
Roger, of Taylorsville, and Rod, of Alpine, also are waiting to see if their names will be drawn for a spot at the Jack Daniels World Barbecue Championship in October. They already have two chances in the draw and they will try to earn a third by participating in the Rock 'N' Ribs competition at the Gallivan Center this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 19-20. R&R is among 28 teams from around the U.S. competing for $10,000 in prizes. (See box with details.)
In the genes • The Southern California natives and former surfing champions say slow-cooked barbecue is a family tradition.
"We've always loved to grill," explained Rod, who is seven minutes younger than Roger. Their father, a butcher, and their uncle, a hog farmer, were early influences.
"We always had pulled pork as little kids," said Rod, "I remember my uncle staying up all night smoking pulled pork."
Rod moved to Utah in 1989 to attend Brigham Young University; Roger followed him to Utah in 1995. Together they operate Livingston Mortgage Company with offices in Salt Lake City and American Fork.
A few years ago, Pat Barber, owner of Pat's Barbecue in Salt Lake City, let the brothers borrow an old smoker for the weekend. Not long after, they bought their own equipment made from an old 250-gallon propane tank. After good reviews from neighbors and friends, they started entering barbecue competitions.
The Livingston brothers "are well on their way" to doing great things in the barbecue arena, said Barber, who has both competed on the national level and judged. He said traveling to out-of-state competitions has helped the pair see what it takes to win big competitions. Travel also has helped the Livingstons become more consistent in their cooking methods.
"You might be really good in cooking chicken, but you need to be consistent in the other three categories to win," said Barber, adding: "They are doing what no one else in the state is doing."
Smokin' good • Naturally competitive, the brothers entered 12 different contests in 2010, traveling around Utah and into Idaho, Colorado, Arizona and California. The are now Utah's top competition team and have won enough titles to be ranked 95 out of 3,500 U.S. teams.
Rod Livingston said that for each competition, they will cook two beef briskets (14-17 pounds), six racks of pork ribs, 4 pork butts and 18 chicken thighs, just so they have a good selection when it comes time to sending food to the judges. They slow-cook the meats using primarily oak and a little bit of cherry wood.
While they receive high scores in all four meat categories, R&R really excels when it comes to ribs. Last year, they were named "Rib Team of the Year" in Arizona's Triple Crown series.
The secret, said Rod, is their special spice rub sorry, they won't share the recipe and a finishing glaze that's slightly sweet with a little bit of heat.
Earlier this year, R&R's slow-cooked offerings were the featured special on the Chow Truck, a popular mobile food truck in Salt Lake City. Owner SuAn Chow said the brothers approached her about participating in her monthly feature. When she heard about their winning ways, Chow jumped at the chance to include them.
"They don't actually have a location so it was fun to have people sample their food from my truck," said Chow, who used R&R's beef brisket for tacos topped with coleslaw, feta and avocado. She also used the shredded pork for quesadillas.
Sometimes it seems that the Livingstons eat and sleep barbecue. Last year, the brothers launched the Intermountain Barbecue Association to get more people involved in barbecuing. And a few months ago, they started their own catering company, called what else? R&R Barbecue.
And in their spare time, it's not unusual to find the brothers smokin' up a storm in the backyard for neighbors and friends.
Said Rod: "We can always find someone to help taste our food."
Rock 'N' Ribs Festival
Barbecue competitors from across the country, including several from Utah, will vie for $10,000 in cash prizes at this event, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.
When • Saturday, Aug. 20, 2 to 10 p.m.
Where • Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main, Salt Lake City
Cost • Free admission; sample plates $3, plus local barbecue restaurants will be selling flame-grilled favorites.
Details • slcgov.com/publicservices/gallivan/
Who • Twin brothers Roger and Rod Livingston, the R&R BBQ Team
What • Utah's top barbecue competition team and owners of R&R Barbecue catering company
Details • 801-722-9121
Web • randrbbq.net