Michael Gould had only recently found a new hobby when the pandemic hit and made pursuing it unwise.
The 72-year-old retired Monsanto employee had been barbecuing all his life and enjoyed cooking with his adult son, so he decided in 2018 to put a team together to participate in the competitive barbecue circuit.
“We thought it would be fun. We didn’t know anything about it,” said Gould, a lifelong Dupo resident. “It was more like a weekend getaway. It was nice.”
Family members who made up the team quickly learned how outgunned they were in terms of barbecue equipment, as other participants had spent thousands on cooking gear while the Goulds only had a lawn chair and their barrel cooker.
That was enough for at least the first competition because the Goulds’ team placed eighth in the ribs category out of 45 teams.
“It was off to the races after that,” Gould said. “I really enjoyed it.”
The success continued, with the family getting recognized at other events and even placing first in another one.
Then, the pandemic began, and Gould lost a fun way to spend time with his family.
Shortly after last March, Gould was watching videos on YouTube and came across videos of individuals building cinder block barbecue pits. He needed a new grill, so Gould decided to use this as an opportunity to get his grandchildren to help build the grill.
Next, he decided to use the help of his children to begin uploading barbecue recipe videos to YouTube, recreating the BBQ experience as best as he could during the pandemic.
“It’s just a big family deal. It’s fun. I like it,” Gould said.
One of Gould’s daughters, Gina Thompson, taught him the basics of how to film the videos on his phone, while his wife handles much of the filming. One of his sons, Luke Gould, then helps cook the food. Another daughter, Rita Hamontree, edits the videos so another son, Nick Gould can upload them to YouTube and share them on Facebook.
“It really has been a lot of fun,” Gould said. “It’s really just a good time. It’s all about the family.”
Gould said he thought the videos could help sell T-shirts Hamontree made for the barbecue team, which he named 2 Poots BBQ because he thought it would be funny to hear that shouted at competitions.
In addition to serving as a way to connect with current family members, Gould said he also hopes the videos will make him familiar to a new grandchild on the way in Washington, D.C.
“I won’t get to interact with that baby too much because of the distance,” he said. “I’m 72, so I thought if I’d make these videos I could maybe give him an idea of what I’m like, what grandma’s like and all the rest of us. It’s just a little something the kid might know us from.”
In terms of the videos themselves, Gould said he takes his experience from competitive barbecuing and uses that to inform his cooking.
He explained that those individuals are “outstanding,” but they use equipment and take extra steps that most people cannot or do not want to do.
“I got to thinking, anybody can do this. There’s nothing to it, just whatever you like,” Gould shared. “So, I decided whatever I put on these videos would be what the next-door neighbor would want to do. It’s even better, I think.”
Even though there has been little promotion of the videos – which are not meant to go viral in any way – each of the weekly installments has gotten more than 100 views so far.
“It makes me feel good,” Gould says of that response. “A lot of my friends have seen it, and they stop by the house to see when I will be cooking next so they can get a piece of pork steak or whatever. It’s nice.”