trucker barbecue

Part of our ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

John Fitzpatrick is a country boy, even now, at 58.

The oldest of five kids, Fitzpatrick learned to barbecue from his father, his scout leader in Boy Scouts.

From his dad, Fitzpatrick learned how to cook over an open flame, clean fish and build snow caves in the frigid Canadian winter.

“We always barbecued growing up. When my parents started camping, that’s when I got really into grilling,” he says.

John chicken wings 2Fitzpatrick, a company driver for Canadian American Transport, is a long-haul trucker who spends up to four weeks at a time on the road. But he still grills out every chance he gets.

Among friends, Fitzpatrick is called “The Barbecue King,” with good reason.

The die-hard griller has two grills and three smokers at home in Kingston, Ontario.

“I do love my grilling,” he says. On the truck, Fitzpatrick grills out on an 18-inch gas grill he travels with, using mesquite, cherry or apple wood chips to enhance his barbecue. But at home, he cooks for others.

“We invite family and friends over and we all get together,” Fitzpatrick says. “There’s camaraderie. We have a good time.”

At gatherings, Fitzpatrick cooks up beef ribs on the smoker.

“My friends like the flavor and how tender and moist my meat is,” he says. “The juice just pours out.”

Fitzpatrick’s friends savor his ribs most of all. That’s probably because he makes a homemade rub that John bbq ribs and wingsgives his ribs an extra kick. He calls it Bone Dust. It’s a mix of cumin, chipotle powder and other seasonings. “I can take any type of rub and change it to give it my own flavor,” Fitzpatrick says.

Fitzpatrick has tried to cook brisket on the road, but it’s never the same.

So he saves his brisket for home time and does it right—smoking it at 210 degrees for 18 hours. The result is delicious, says.

“Patience is the key, and keeping a close on eye it,” he says. “You never want to rush it, whether you’re cooking on the grill or the smoker. If you rush, you’ll end up with tough meats. It takes a lot of practice.”

Fitzpatrick has been smoking his own meats for 25 years and grilling for 40 years. He enjoys cooking for his wife, Evelyn, most of all.

“I wish she was with me on the road,” he says. “When I retired after working 25 years at DuPont, we traveled in a camper together for a year. I loved driving with her.”

Evelyn loves her husband’s lemon chicken.

Fitzpatrick rubs it with salt and pepper, stuffs it with halved lemons and smokes it on his vertical smoker for about two-and-a-half hours. “It’s her favorite,” he says.

When Fitzpatrick retires from his CDL trucking job, he and Evelyn will drive Route 66. “We’ll hook up the camper and just stop wherever we stop,” he says. “We’ll go fishing and enjoy the journey.”

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Featured photos from; other photos courtesy John Fitzpatrick.


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