Chapman bulls his way to Grand Championship cook-off

By: J. Werner
| Published 12/27/2011


Wild Willis Kookers win an unprecedented four first places at 1st Annual Cowbow Round Up, Jason Pelton's 'Cookin' for the Kids' Barbecue Cook-off.

CONROE, Texas -- Lang “Bull” Chapman of the Wild Willis Kookers, not only won the Grand Championship at the 1st Annual Cowboy Round Up Jason Pelton's ‘Cookin’ for the Kids’ Barbecue Cook-off on December 3, he did so in grand fashion. Chapman won first place in all four meat categories which included beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and chicken, to take top honors and thus earning the right to be referred to as a ‘Pitmaster.’

When a pitmaster wins first place in three categories, it’s called the ‘hat trick.’ A term was first used in cricket in 1858, to describe HH Stephenson’s feat of taking three wickets in three balls. (A collection was taken up and Stephenson was presented with a hat bought with the proceeds.)The term was eventually adopted by hockey for three goals in a game, and some other sports, and apparently so in barbecue competitions. A rare occurrence, the ‘hat trick’…winning in three categories, has occurred less than a handful of times in the past five years in the Texas Gulf Coast BBQ Cookers Association.

So what do you call four first places? I’ll use a term taken from the world of tennis to denote winning the four major tennis tournaments (the Australian Open, French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon)…a ‘Grand Slam.’ Chapman certainly slammed the competition in grand fashion. Scoring high marks for specific criteria which most certainly includes taste, but also the use of spices, and aesthetic presentation of the meat. A competition Chapman was going to pass up due to his work schedule, the Wild Willis Kookers entered at the last minute, cooking for Mariner Realty, where his wife, Brandi, is a realtor. He said he wanted to show his support of this inaugural event which will be held annually to commemorate the passing of Jason “Jake” Rex Pelton, who lost his life earlier this year while working cattle. The fundraiser cook-off raised funds for area Future Farmers of America and 4-H programs.

The father of two sons, Chase and Logan, Chapman said, “It’s hard to say ‘No’ to fundraisers for kids, when you’re raising two of your own.“

Chapman is no stranger to Greater Houston barbecue cook-offs. He regularly wins, places, or shows, in one or more categories, but he even admittedly was astonished with the results as he felt he wasn’t adequately prepared. Asked if at some point the experience just kicks in, and you’re functioning on ‘auto-pilot,’ modestly Chapman replied, “On any given day, it’s anybody’s game at these cook-offs. It’s entirely in the hands of the judges.” Chapman has been featured in the National Barbecue News, a national BBQ news publication out of Douglas, Georgia. Chapman took an interest in cooking at a very early age, visiting the kitchens in restaurants as a young boy, watching the chefs. Son, Chase, appears to be following in dad’s footsteps. He too, was recently featured in the National Barbecue News for his winning efforts.

These charity cook-offs are generally open to the public to purchase plates or to-go orders. Why wouldn’t you want to partake of award-winning barbecue, and help a good cause at that the same time? To find out where area cook-offs are taking place, visit their website or become a ‘Friend’ of their Facebook page.