Chef Ernie, a regular guest on WBTV and WCNC, is an award-winning smokemaster who serves traditional and upscale outdoor food right here in the Queen City. His company, Ernie’s Smokehouse, is home to premier outdoor cooking and catering and also hosts grilling classes, competes in professional competitions and offers delicious cuts at the local Charlotte farmers markets.

Ernie’s passion to cook began when he was behind the grill and in the kitchen crafting meals for his family and friends. But it quickly evolved into something more in the early 2000s when he began teaching cooking classes to small groups, individuals and residents when he visited foreign countries. In 2005 he began competing professionally in Kansas City and Memphis sanctioned barbecue contests, winning in ribs his first time around and winning multiple awards since then.

Ernie also recognized a gap in the market. Most people love to grill and barbecue but need help getting started. He decided he wanted to share his passion with others by teaching outdoor cooking and grilling classes.

“A lot of women tell me they do a lot of the indoor cooking and don’t go near the grill but are enthusiastic to learn, so I love teaching them,” Ernie says. “A few years [after I began teaching], I started making regular appearances on local television networks, showing people how to cook amazing food outdoors. And since then, all aspects of my business have continued to grow.”

A regular on WBTV and WCNC, Ernie demonstrates easy and great outdoor cooking recipes monthly.

“Now that football season is starting, I focus on my 2-minute grill theme because nothing is more exciting in football than a 2-minute drill, and nothing is more exciting than my 2-minute grill,” he says. “During these [television segments], I discuss making tailgate parties at home or at the game more exciting with upscale food. Tailgates are no longer just grilling up burgers, dogs or ribs. Now they are formal events that entertain business clients or coworkers, friends, family and neighbors. It’s a competition in the parking lot between attendees long before the game begins. Tailgate menus are now high-end with stuffed tenderloin, whole turkeys to carve, pig pickings, clambakes and even glamping s’mores.”

You can find Ernie and his award-winning food each week at the Matthews Farmers Market and at other select venues throughout the month. His outdoor cooking and grilling classes make great birthday, anniversary and holiday gifts. Visit ErniesBBQ.com or email him at ernie@erniesbbq.com for more information.

“A few years [after I began teaching], I started making regular appearances on local television networks, showing people how to cook amazing food outdoors. And since then, all aspects of my business have continued to grow.”