ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Smells of barbeque filled part of Rockford’s West Side on Sunday as one local organization teamed up with a restaurant for a fundraiser.
It was all so the kids who are part of a young, Black and gifted program can showcase their new skills on the grill. 100 Strong has been providing kids the opportunity to explore their talents for going on seven years, and this one came with the help of Little Nick’s Barbeque.
The pit master said that one student has even been promoted to assistant manager.
“When you come down to Little Nick’s BBQ, you’re not just patronizing my business, you’re patronizing something that we make sure we turn back into the community,” said Thaddeus Denthriff II, owner and operator of Little Nick’s BBQ.
Denthriff is the second owner of operator of the barbeque tucked away on Auburn Street, and people were stopping by for some BBQ just down the road at 100 Strong Community Safe on Sunday.
It was all cooked by Denthriff’s apprentices.
“They just basically learn how to prep meat, how to process meat, how to trim it, get it rubbed down, ready to go on the pits, how to work the fires, so just all those elementary techniques and the fundamentals of BBQ,” Denthriff said.
It all started several months ago when Denthriff inquired about getting some extra help around the restaurant. Virgil Hobson, president of 100 Strong, was able to provide him with teens interested in learning how to work the pit.
Some of them now have part-time jobs, something that Hobson said will help make them productive citizens in the future.
“Its very important because if they learn these good habits, it going to transfer to their home, its going to transfer to the community, so its an investment,” Hobson said.
Denthriff echoed that statement, adding that they are not only learning the skills of barbeque but also how to be better people for the real world.
“Barbecue is one of those things that its got a few elements of it that you have to stay true to,” Denthriff said. “Good barbeque has integrity, meaning that when nobody is watching you’re still doing the right thing. Shortcuts always come to the surface in barbecue and so I think those life lessons of learning patience, learning integrity, learning believing in processes, and that discipline, that all transfers to just regular life.”
Denthriff is a 6-time world champion BBQ pit master. He takes the kids with him to competition so they can witness first had everything they can accomplish.