Pitmaster trains BBQ apprentice through community mentorship

100 Strong holds barbeque fundraiser Sunday to show off skills.
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Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 4:59 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - To Thaddeaus Denthriff its not just barbeque, its life.

Cooking combines patience and discipline; core values that the award winning pitmaster world champion, Thaddeaus Denthriff teaches his employees at Little Nick’s BBQ in Rockford.

It also brings people together. In the 100 Strong program, that’s a helpful bridge to reach the youth.

“Just keep trying and work hard and you will always succeed in anything you do,” says Jeramaine Richardson, Little Nick’s BBQ assistant manager.

Jeramaine was the first teenager Denthriff took under his wing. While he underwent training on slow cooking, he was also learning about the real-world.

“Those life lessons of learning patience, learning integrity, learning sticking and believing in processes, and that discipline all transfers to just regular life,” said Denthriff.

At Sunday’s 100 Strong event, community members were able to get a bite of barbeque and a taste of how nonprofits like 100 Strong are changing lives.

Seven months ago, Denthriff decided to bring on teenagers at Little Nick’s BBQ, who not only needed a job but needed direction. He says Jeramaine shows tremendous talent on the grill.

The student was hesitant at first, but learned to pour his heart into his work. “I did like it, I just didn’t really understand what to do at first but it just, as the progress went on and on; it just got better for me.”

Jeramaine was moving furniture before being placed in front of a slow cooker. He says he dedicates his days to putting love and affection into his food; waking up at 5 a.m. every day to get started on the mouth watering meals at Little Nick’s.

“This is what I actually want to do because it’s a good experience, and (Denthriff) taught me a lot so I just want to keep moving forward and progressing,” he says.

Denthriff takes Jeramaine to competitions across the country. The team just recently returned from a competition in Memphis, Tenn.

“You know so they say a man who loves what he’s doing will never work a day in his life. I think that’s true for me,” says Denthriff.

Both Jeramaine and his mentor will be making their way to another competition in Kansas sometime in September.

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