Russell Bird loves to barbecue. Ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork, steak…you name it, he’s probably cooked it. He took a major step three years ago when he brought home a smoker, used to cook big pieces of meat that take a lot of time and energy to finish. “It’s worth every second,” he says.
During the day, Bird is a member of the promotional industry. The Sherwood Park, AB, native began at a distributorship in 2009, and six years later, in September 2015, he opened his own company, The Promo Addict (asi/302225), where he specializes in corporate sales of branded hard goods and apparel.
But four years before joining the promotional industry, when he was between jobs for one three-week stretch, he watched a lot of shows on The Food Network. “My wife would ask about the job search,” he says. “But when she came home from work and there was a gourmet meal prepared, we would forget about all that and just enjoy an awesome meal.”
As Bird worked his way up in the promotional industry, he never gave up cooking. He and his wife, also an accomplished cook, had their own home-based competitions for bragging rights. Then in 2013, he made it official when he applied for an amateur food competition during Taste of Edmonton, a 10-day outdoor festival, and was accepted. After wins in both 2013 and 2014, he was asked to participate in the Canadian Food Championships…against professional chefs.
“I was apprehensive,” says Bird, “but I ended up taking the opportunity.” If he did well, the payoff was enormous, for the Canadian Food Championships is the only Canadian qualifying event for the annual World Food Championships.
When Bird was given a choice of category, he chose Bacon because of the newfound popularity surrounding the cured meat. “I thought, if I put my mind to it, I can come up with a recipe that featured bacon in a way that nobody had ever tried before and it would be amazing,” he says.
Read more in the April edition of Counselor magazine’s Social section: bit.ly/counselorsocial.