COOKS AT HOME
Photos by Chad Spencer
Gary Bradshaw is a man with focus. Three focuses, in fact: faith, family, and brisket. Focuses that commonly overlap and are permanently intertwined. His wife of 42 years, Susan, and their two sons can attest to that, as the family still works, plays, and eats together almost daily. The members of his church can vouch for that too, as well as the physically and intellectually challenged children of Esther’s School, in St. Petersburg, who just had the wonderful burden of trying to figure out what to do with the 800 pounds of Gary’s famed barbecue brisket that he prepared and donated through a church fundraiser.
The final version of that famed brisket has been a long time coming. Gary has spent decades perfecting his dry rub, but has truly been working on the ‘perfect’ recipe since childhood. When asked about his Louisiana youth, Gary quickly conjures an image of weekends watching his father masterfully smoking meats in the 55-pound metal barrel out back, a pastime practically as common in his home as brushing his teeth. Gary has been enjoying brisket and other barbecue with his family since the days when a pound of meat only cost 45 cents, unlike today’s whopping prices, which thanks to the laws of supply and demand have reached approximately $5 per pound. Gary shoulders a good portion of the blame for the rising costs as the community is continually demanding more and Gary is happily supplying it, often graciously waking up before 3 a.m. to start the slow, slow, slow process of smoking the meat in a pellet smoker for at least 12 hours—until it is so tender that chewing becomes a simple courtesy, as it could easily be swallowed whole, and the aromas of paprika, cumin, and cayenne work toward having this perfect specimen of barbecue declared a miracle.
Brisket isn’t the only star in Gary’s life. Perhaps you have heard of his brother, Terry Bradshaw, most commonly known for his 14-season run as quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Terry and Gary have always been close—emotionally and now geographically, with Terry living only minutes down the road—which makes watching games and sharing pellet smokers easy tasks to accomplish together. Terry may have garnered fame for his athletic ability, but make no mistake, Gary is no slouch either; he exercises daily while still making time for hobbies such as scuba diving, spear fishing, hunting and, most importantly, golfing. He and his wife also donate their time to the aforementioned Esther’s School, a program near and dear to their hearts.
Gary and Susan currently reside in Parrish, Florida, where, on any given day, you can typically find him doing what he does best: Brisket with the family, with a big ol’ side of faith.
—Megan Greenberg of The Three Kitcheneers