A free-fall affair with barbecue

Roger Mooking, second from right, host of the Cooking Channel’s ‘Man Fire Food’, interviewed competitive BBQ chef Bill Rousseau, left, for the show. Rousseau and Marty Edwards, his partner in the Swine Flew BBQ team, cook in an eye-catching smoker – the fuselage of an old airplane. (Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

A skydiving instructor combined his love of flying and barbecue, catching the Cooking Channel’s attention

By Russ Green/Richmond News

Take a man who combines his love of skydiving and cooking and you have Bill Rousseau. Rousseau, a jump instructor for the Missouri River Valley Skydivers in Henrietta with almost 1,100 jumps to his credit, also owns The Small Engine Shop in Grain Valley.

It was during a jump to deliver the football at a Blue Springs High School game several years ago where the competitive cooking bug first got a hold of Rousseau. After the jump, he ventured across the street where a contest was being held. Rousseau and his friend since the seventh grade, Marty Edwards, sat and visited with a few of the competitors and afterwards decided to try their hands at it.

In the winter of 1991 the two found their ultimate smoker and Swine Flew BBQ was born.

“Someone at the Lexington Airport bought a fuselage to salvage some parts from,” Rousseau explained. “Marty and I had been talking for a while about building a cooker to do competitions with. It was pretty good size and I thought that this would be unusual.”

Since then Rousseau and Edwards have taken their unique smoker around the country and participated on the average of 11 or 12 contests a year. Of course their unusual smoker is always the topic of conversation.

“That’s our main cooker when we do contests,” Rousseau said. “We take a Weber Grill to cook chicken or sausage or something like that. We cook brisket, pork shoulder and ribs in the plane for the contests.”

Due to their work schedules, Rousseau said he and Edwards competed in just one contest this year, and that was in Blue Springs. Even though they competed just once this year, Swine Flew BBQ received more exposure then they would normally get when they appeared on the Food Network’s “Man, Fire, Food.” Rousseau explained the producers of the show discovered them when they were going through a cookbook from the mid-90’s that featured a couple of pages on the Swine Flew team, the plane and a few recipes.

“When they were doing research to find subjects for their show, they ran across us and tracked us down,” Rousseau said. “They asked if we would be interested in doing an interview with them. So they set it up and called back and we did an interview and they pretty well decided then they were going to come by and shoot some footage for possible inclusion in the show.”

Shooting for the show was in July and Rousseau said that it was a long day for their 8 to 9 minute portion of the half-hour program.

“The actual shooting began at my house on Friday morning at 7,” he explained. “They did shots at my house and business here in Grain Valley and that lasted until about 6 p.m. Then they came back and we hauled everything to the airport in Henrietta and set it up. We came back here and shot until after 10 that night.”



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