An upcoming TV show will have grills sizzling and food flying as two Summerville men compete for $10,000.
Jack Waiboer and Cheyenne Ledyard are two weeks away from being featured on the Travel Channel’s new reality competition show “American Grilled.” The episode is set to air on July 30 at 9 p.m.
These two competitors happen to be friends and come from different backgrounds, but both share a love for food – and have a desire to get their name out there.
The episode will star four grillers representing the Lowcountry, but only one will walk away $10,000 richer. Waiboer and Ledyard’s lips are sealed tight as to the outcome: Participants aren’t allowed to reveal who won or what they grilled before the show airs.
They filmed the show in Savannah, Ga. Each show is in a new location, showing people creating food for which the area is known.
Local pitmaster Jack Waiboer is no stranger to barbecue, and he will be featured on the new Travel Channel reality series “American Grilled.”
Waiboer is also known for his appearance on another television show from Destination America, “BBQ Pitmasters.” Waibor works as a pitmaster for Kraft Foods and also owns Carolina Pit Masters Barbecue Cooking School. He has won three South Carolina State Championships and 13 Grand Championships.
Waiboer said he enjoyed participating in both television shows but is more interested in live-fire grilling. “American Grilled” is a brand new reality game show that debuted this year. Waiboer said he was in the casting call loop for the show, with producers already recognizing him from “BBQ Pitmasters.”
“They wanted people that weren’t the low and slow barbecue guys that are common to pitmasters,” he said. “They want guys that can do hot and fast grilling – the techniques are different,” Waiboer said. “I’m branded a live-fire grilling expert.”
Waiboer said he isn’t known outside of the “barbecue world” and decided this was the year he was going to get himself some local recognition. He got hired to do demonstrations at The Citadel’s Home Show in Charleston and then started pushing his and Carolina Pit Masters’s brands.
“I do represent the Lowcountry on all of my brands,” he said. “South Carolina is the birthplace of American barbecue. The Spanish were the first to bring hogs to America — the Spanish came through Port Royal, which is down around Hilton Head. So I’m proud to be here – proud to be able to make myself a South Carolina barbecue cook.”
Waiboer came to Summerville after graduating Penn State in 1982. In college he studied political science despite wanting to be a chef because, at the time, “it was still considered too domestic.” He made money in restaurants while he worked his way through college and after graduating almost immediately went into the restaurant business.
Waiboer eventually started cutting meat for grocery stores.
Now he’s loving his job at Kraft.
“I sell barbeque, barbeque sauce and the whole barbeque game,” he said.
In addition to his job with Kraft, Waiboer also works at Palmetto Outdoor Kitchens in Mt. Pleasant where he performs grilling demonstrations.
Waiboer also appears on TV once a week on the GrateTV network, once again demonstrating the art of grilling and barbequing.
Waiboer said he has always loved cooking barbeque and the tradition of it all, calling it a “traditional” cuisine.
“I like cooking stuff over fire,” he said. “I’d like to say it is the original cuisine, but it is not the original cuisine – it is the original cooked cuisine. I enjoy that traditional aspect of it.”
Waiboer calls cutting meat an art form, and feels a need to create great food.
“Being on competition barbecue gave me the opportunity to create great food,” he said.
Waiboer said the format of “American Grilled” is similar to the Food Network show “Chopped”.
“I had fun,” he said. “They challenge you, they don’t make it easy on you.”
Waiboer just celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary with his Mary. They have two daughters, Kristina and Kaitlyn, and two grandchildren.
Waiboer said he enjoyed his time on “American Grilled” and that he was thankful for making a career out of something he loves.
“Competition barbeque gave me the chance to create great things,” said Waiboer.
Waiboer also happens to be friends with the other local pitmaster who competed on the show – Cheyenne Ledyard.
“He is a very talented, local spice guy,” he said.
Cheyenne Ledyard has always liked to grill.
He has been married to his wife Brennan for 10 years and is the father of three children aged 9, 8 and 4 years old.
“If you were to ask my kids who in the house cooks they would probably point me out,” he said.
Ledyard has lived in Summerville for the past 10 years and runs an online store called The BBQ Pantry, and also caters. He travels across the state with his competition barbecue team and is currently ninth in the state under the South Carolina Barbecue Association, having just won his first place victory on July 4 in Mullins, S.C. at the Rib Throwdown, adding he has placed second and third in multiple competitions but this was a big win for him.
“We smoked ribs for the town and the SCBA judges judged the competition,” he said. “This was a one-day event, I would love to do more of them – it’s a lot more fun when you win. I was honored to cook against some of the best pitmasters in South Carolina.”
He came across a casting call for “American Grilled” via Facebook. Ledyard found being on the show to be great exposure; he makes all his own sauces and rubs, which he sells on his website.
“I’ve always had an interest in food, I look at it as I’m very creative with food,” he said. “I’ve been in the food industry for a long time, I’ve always liked it. I’m a creative person and it’s a way for me to express myself a lot of times. I like to see people get happy when I feed them some great-tasting food – whether it be barbecue or any type of food.”
Ledyard said he hopes for notoriety from the show, and a platform to sell his products. He said, right now, his favorite thing to grill is bacon.
“I’ve gotten into this big bacon kick,” he said. “It seems I’ve gotten four or five different appetizers that I’ve made from bacon.”
Ledyard hand-grinds all his own spices and herbs, and toasts then blends them into his dry rubs. He has been making his own sauce since 2003.
“I’m not a big fan of mustard so being here in Charleston there’s a lot of mustard-based barbecue sauces, so the ones I was getting just weren’t to my taste,” he said. “So I decided I was going to make my own barbecue sauce.”
Ledyard started off using mason jars for his sauces and about six years ago he started using a standard, labeled bottle. In addition to his sauces Ledyard also sells gift baskets on his website.
He has sold to about 18 countries and has been voted Editor’s Choice by Better Homes and Gardens in spring 2003 – at the time he had only been open four months.
“I’ve been able to work with wineries on the West Coast, infusing salts and such for them,” he said. “I used to get a lot of snickers from friends and such and I’d say, ‘One day it’s going to be world-famous.’ They don’t snicker too much about it anymore.”
The biggest thing for Ledyard is he gets to do what he loves.
“I get to spend great time with my family – I’ve worked my schedule around my family time,” he said.
Brennan said she loves when her husband makes smoked turkey barbecue.
“Our kids are our best critics,” she said. “It’s fun that we get to always try different stuff.”
Ledyard said he is planning a big viewing party for when the show airs. Ironically, when Waiboer appeared on “BBQ Pitmasters” last year, Ledyard attended Waiboer’s viewing party.
“I felt like I was with a celebrity,” he said. “Jack’s a good guy. It it is a little odd but I’m confident with the skills that I have so competing against Jack, even though he is a seasoned pitmaster himself, it was not too difficult. We had a good time.”
Ledyard said he was glad to see two Summerville people being featured on “American Grilled.”
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” he said. “It’s a little overwhelming, being that I’m a rookie to the TV world.”