FREEPORT — Dan and Jan Canterbury, though happily married, decided they should see other cook-off teams.
The couple from Conroe love each other and love to cook, but like most couples, they don’t always see eye to eye on things. Their disagreements over barbecue competitions caused them to head to different pits.
“We were one team a long time ago, and actually on another team,” Dan Canterbury said. “I decided I wanted my own team, so we branched out and between us each one took care of one thing and the other the other thing.”
At Saturday’s 72nd annual Fishin’ Fiesta, the Canterburys were going head to head again.
Their competitive separation started when Jan decided to use her own ideas on ribs.
“At that point, they didn’t have the rule that you had to have separate pits for the entries,” Jan said. “So I just threw some ribs on his pit and I turned in mine, and he turned in his and I beat him. That’s when he went and bought me my own smoker.”
That’s when We B Smokin’, which was the couple’s original team name, became We B Smokin Too for Jan’s team. Dan kept the original name.
“She had some ideas on how to do ribs on her own and wanted her own team,” Dan said. “So I went out and bought her a $99 pit at Academy and bolted it to the fender of mine and off she went. At the same time, off she went and kicked everybody’s butt.
“But it’s been good competition and all in the name of fun. I know where all of the money goes, in her pocket. This is our hobby and our kids grew up in it and one of them has his own pit to this day.”
The Canterburys have a lot in common, including being champion pitmasters at the Fishin’ Fiesta.
“This event has been good for us; he’s won it twice and I’ve won it twice,” Jan said with a big smile. “He’s won a rocking chair and one year it was a glider swing and our patio is full, and I’ve won two rocking chairs. This could be the tiebreaker this weekend.
“Don’t tell him I told you, but he is relatively consistent. He gets his number called every weekend. I am more prone to sit and clap for my friends, but he is a great cook and I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Keeping it hush-hush can be hard, especially when competing against someone from the same household.
“We don’t keep our recipes away from each other, because we don’t do anything alike,” Jan said. “Our theory is that if you have two different entries, if they don’t like his profile, they might like mine. That’s how we do it mostly, because we are way too competitive to do it any other way.”
The Canterburys, who’ve been married 24 years, actually met at a barbecue cook-off. Their approach to barbecue is proof opposites attract.
“When he was on that barbecue team when we met, all they let him do was chop wood and pull the pit,” Jan said. “So I came home one day and there was a barbecue pit in my garage and he bought it at a pawn shop and that’s how it started for us. He wanted to cook his own stuff, and I just kind of evolved through him.”
There are really no bragging rights in this family.
“We are modest people, we hug each other and say ‘good job’ and ‘maybe the next time,’” Dan said. “It’s competition, but it’s best friends. That’s the way it started out and that’s the way its always been.”