I have the good fortune of living in the middle Mike Mills' BBQ empire. I've enjoyed the BBQ at his restaurants in the midwest for quite awhile, and frankly it's the yardstick that I use to measure most other BBQ restaurants (not to mention my own BBQ). I've also had the pleasure of making the virtual acquaintenace of Mike's daughter Amy via the very active BBQ community that exists on the internet.
Last night my family treated me to dinner at 17th Street Bar & Grill, Mike Mills' restaurant, for my birthday. As I commented via Twitter on the way to dinner, "If I can't BBQ myself then I'll gladly eat at 17th Street". Amy picked up my message on Twitter and let me know that it so happened that Mike was going to be at the O'fallon joint for last night's airing of "Food Feuds" on the Food Network. She let Mike know I was on my way and asked him to say hello.
Sure enough, Mike found us shortly after I arrived and I had the opportunity to chat with him for several minutes about the Food Network competition, eating and enjoying other folks' BBQ, and the possibility of joining him for one of his On-Cue classes after the first of the year.
In spite of his accomplishments, Mike was as common as cornbread. He is exactly who I thought he'd be after reading his book "Peace, Love, and Barbecue". It was like chatting with an old friend. Mike even sent around some special appetizers for us to sample and made a second stop by our table just to make sure that things were good.
Mike Mills and his family are perfect examples of the kind of folks that I've had the good fortune to meet along the way as I've enjoyed this uniquely American pastime called BBQ.
Oh, and congratulations to Mike and the crew at 17th Street for the win over Pappy's Smokehouse on Food Feud last night.