Darquia and Gordon Biffle are serious about good barbecue.
The Biffles are the owners of Big Daddy's BBQ in Gary and recently took top honors for their restaurant and standout fare in The Hoodie Awards, a national contest sponsored by Steve Harvey.
"The whole experience was so much more than we expected it to be," said Darquia.
Big Daddy's BBQ was voted the No. 1 restaurant in the Best BBQ category. The Hoodie Awards honor businesses, community and religious leaders, high schools and churches around the country for excellence and their contributions to their communities. Fans of the restaurant were invited to vote online.
"It was so exciting," Darquia said, adding every time she sees video footage of her husband's acceptance of the award she wants to "holler and shout."
Big Daddy Gordon's acceptance speech is shown continuously on a monitor in their restaurant for customers to see.
The Biffle's adventure with the art of barbecue actually began when they set up a grill at a local flea market in spring 2008.
"Everyone liked it and said it was good," said Gordon Biffle Jr. "They said 'Big Daddy, you should have a restaurant.' "
This past summer, the couple opened their Gary eatery in Diplomat Plaza on Cleveland Street. Their restaurant was named Big Daddy's after the nickname Gordon was given as a teen.
Their menu stars not only BBQ ribs and rib tips but also hot links, jerk chicken, fried/BBQ chicken, BBQ turkey and BBQ pork. Side items include dishes such as collard greens, spaghetti and Caribbean rice. Various combos are also available. The couple also offers catering through the restaurant.
"I try to keep my food backyard style," said Gordon, the star cook of the operation. His menu highlights food usually found at casual summer yard parties.
Nothing is pretentious at the eatery. The meat is smoked and features special seasonings and a flavorful sauce.
"The meat is the boss and then comes the sauce," said Gordon, stressing he takes great care in smoking the meat.
And he doesn't count on the sauce to mask the natural flavor of the ribs. For Gordon, the sauce is just a tasty accompaniment to something that already has a winning flavor.
Gordon, who's long cooked at home just for fun, learned his backyard cooking technique from his mother Archie Bonds.
Bonds, who died earlier this year, was a great cook and also his "taste tester."
According to Gordon, "Her food was my favorite food."
When it comes to successful barbecue, Gordon said it has to do with a quality product.
"But, it's also our blend of seasonings and the way I slow cook the meat until it's nice and juicy and tender," he said.
"Eighty percent of our cooking is done outside," Gordon said. There are grills indoors, including an aquarium style grill pit, but Gordon also creates his fare on outdoor grills in back of the restaurant.
"Everything comes fresh off the grill," he said. Sometimes customers have to wait awhile but as long as they're satisfied with the food the Biffles are happy.
"Some of the customers who have to wait tell me it was worth it," he said. And that's music to his ears.
While Gordon handles the cooking duties, Darquia works on the business side of the operation.
Darquia is a fan of her husband's cooking and admits she's been spoiled in the food department.
"I went from my mother and grandmother to him," she said. "He enjoys what he does. People can see it and taste it."
Darquia admires Gordon's rapport with customers as he regularly engages them in conversation.
"He's a people person and likes to make them laugh," Darquia said.
The couple, who live in Gary, are the parents of five children. Due to customer demand, they have recently expanded their menu and the eatery and now offer additional seating in the space next door to the original business.
FYI: Big Daddy's BBQ, 4213 Cleveland St., Gary; (219) 888-9592