When Tyler came to me over the summer with the idea of opening yet another restaurant in Whitewater, I thought he was out of his mind, but with each passing day and month I began to realize that I should not question him. Tyler Salisbury (and I mean this in the most sincere form of flattery) is a freak of nature. He is living proof of the saying “Where there is a will, there is a way!” I am constantly inspired by the tenacious vision he has for the Whitewater Community. So why am I agreeing to go on a 16-day road trip sleeping in a van with my boss and coworker? I’ve always wanted an adventure. To just get in the car and drive without knowing what state I am going to end up in that night. I am so excited to help create this restaurant and realize not only Tyler’s dream, but also my own. This BBQ joint will be so much more that a place to eat…it will be a journey.
Yesterday, Grandma called and we caught up on my love life, joked about both our cases of early onset Alzheimers (yet to be officially diagnosed), and I mentioned our Pork America trip. As we talked about living as hobos out of a van and having only general destinations in mind for the journey, she quickly and matter-of-factly said, “Tyler, that sounds like something you would do.”
Experience captivates me. The first time I cooked dinner for my mom and dad, I just stared at their changing expressions as different flavors hit their taste buds…or when I flew over to Thailand during midterms because I wanted to, in only 4 days, completely engross myself in a different culture by savoring new tastes, feeling different air, and understanding that I am small in a diverse world.
These experiences are what compel me to be creative. They create in me that drive to say that apples and pumpkin, mixed with just a hint of bacon would make a tasty, memorable flatbread… and convincing my friends in college that real dark chocolate is actually better than milk chocolate. That’s what’s important to me. I will likely never be wealthy, but to watch people’s faces making those same expressions of satisfaction and surprise I remember my so fondly from that first dinner I cooked will keep a true smile on my face money could never buy.
So, what is this Pork America trip my grandma is so worried about? Well, it’s a trip of epic porkportions spanning over 4,300 miles and the barbecues of 14 different states in our 2006 Ford Freestar cargo van. The trip starts in Whitewater WI on January 1st 2013. It’s a chance to see and experiences things and places we’ve never seen or experienced before. It’s 16 days of meeting and connecting with passionate people to break down the difference between a Memphis barbecue sandwich and one from the Carolinas. And, most importantly, it’s our chance to connect intimately with barbecue, from the snout of the pig to the pit masters.
If you’ve had an experience that left a memory in your mind and a tingle on your tastebuds anywhere along our route, tell us about it, because we’d love to stop in your favorite locations, too. Here is our general trip itinerary: