MEET OUR PIT MASTERS




HEAD PIT MASTER - TIM KEEGAN

Background: Tim has called Jack Stack Barbecue his home for over 19 years. Before joining our Jack Stack Barbecue family, Tim was a staple in his family’s restaurant, Snead’s BBQ. Starting at the age of 6, Tim got his first taste of the restaurant business by washing dishes and helping where he could. In 1977, his family opened Keegan’s BBQ in Martin City, where Tim spent the next few years perfecting his technique in front of the pit. In 1986, Tim took over Keegan’s BBQ and worked the Pit almost every day until Keegan’s BBQ closed in 1994. Three years later, Tim had the desire to get back into the barbecue business. He reached out to Case, who was the manager of Martin City at the time, and he was hired on the spot. Tim has only had one job outside of the barbecue industry, and he says, “I guess this is where I’m supposed to be” and aren’t we glad he is!
Tim Keegan - Head Pitmaster

Tim Keegan - Head Pitmaster
Favorite Menu Item: Tim’s perfect meal starts with our Barbecue Shrimp Appetizer. For the main course, he can’t go wrong with the Barbecue Combo with Beef Burnt Ends and Baby Back Ribs and two of our most popular sides, the Hickory Pit Beans and Cheesy Corn Bake. To finish it off, Tim says he must indulge with Mom’s Carrot Cake.

Tip for At-Home Pit Masters: “Start small with chicken and pork butt and make sure you always start with a high grade, quality piece of meat. You can experiment with different woods: hickory, oak, pecan, apple and mesquite. Try many different rubs and sauces. Most important, keep good records of time and temperatures so you don’t keep making the same mistake twice. And keep in mind that over smoking a product is much worse than under smoking it.”

Fun Fact: Even though Tim Keegan, our Head Pit Master, lives and breathes barbecue, when we asked him, “If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?” He said, “Lasagna” and not just any old lasagna, it must be either his Mom’s recipe or from Jovita’s Italian Café. Fun Fact: Jovita’s Italian Café is owned by Jack Fiorella’s Sister-In-Law, Leasa Carson.

MARTIN CITY PIT MASTER - TOMMY KUPCZYK

Background: Tommy first applied to work for Jack Stack Barbecue in 1992, and believe it or not, we turned him down. With persistence and determination, Tommy gained beneficial restaurant experience at Bennigan’s and decided to apply to Jack Stack again in 1995. Tommy started his career in Martin City as a line cook, but his management team quickly saw his potential and moved him into full time pit in July of 1996. After a lot of hard work, dedication, and practice, Tommy became a Pit Master. 23 years later, Tommy is currently the most tenured Pit Master at Jack Stack Barbecue.

Favorite Menu Item: As an outstanding Pit Master who spends 40+ hours a week smoking barbecue meats, Tommy enjoys the Beef Brisket and Pulled Pork. But, when we asked him, “What is your favorite menu item?” He said, “Hickory Grilled Salmon and a side of broccoli with roasted garlic butter.”

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: “The slower the better, never rush.”

Fun Fact: One of Tommy’s favorite memories while working was in 1996, when Joe Montana came to the expo window to compliment him on a job well done!
Tommy Kupczyk - Martin City Pitmaster
Juan Beltran - Overland Park Pitmaster

OVERLAND PARK - JUAN BELTRAN

Background: Juan got his start in the restaurant industry at American Bandstand and Bristol. He had the desire to shy away from the bar & grille scene and ended up in one of Kansas City’s favorite pastimes… barbecue. Juan has worked at Jack Stack Barbecue for almost 20 years. He started out on the kitchen line, transitioned to carry out, then to the grill and finally to the pit in 2001. Juan credits his mentor, Chris Dorman, for teaching him everything he knows about barbecue. Juan worked under Chris for 13 years and followed his technique and work ethic until he retired in 2013. Following Chris’s retirement, Juan was given the opportunity to become Overland Park’s Pit Master and he says, “This is work that I perform with much pride!”

Favorite Menu Item: Even Pit Masters don’t get sick of good barbecue. Juan’s favorite menu item is the Barbecue Combo with Beef Burnt Ends and Baby Back Ribs. “The meats taste even better knowing how much hard work goes into creating them.

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: “Patience is the key to successfully smoking meats. My personal trick is putting Brisket at the top of the smoker so the drippings add flavor to the other meats and pit beans.”

Fun Fact: Juan Beltran is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, and he lived there until he was 16-years-old. In Mexico, there are several different types of barbecue, but the main difference is how it’s cooked. Juan says, “The biggest difference is that in Mexico we cook with steam instead of smoke. We call it Barbacoa, which is slowly cooked with steam instead of the fire.” Juan’s favorite thing to cook at home is Carne Asada, which is beef that has been marinated and grilled.

FREIGHT HOUSE - MATT DRUMMOND

Background: Matt has been in the restaurant industry since he was 15-years-old. He has been part of our Jack Stack Barbecue team for 10 years and has worked his way up from the kitchen line and carryout to now being the head Pit Master at the Freight House location. Being a Pit Master isn’t an easy job, Matt shared that every morning he starts his day at 2:30 a.m. From there, he heads to the restaurant to start smoking the meats. He has honed his skills as a Pit Master with commitment, perseverance and training.

Favorite Menu Item: If Matt had to choose a favorite barbecue meat to smoke and eat, he would choose the Pork Spare Ribs. These ribs can be challenging to smoke consistently, but Matt enjoys the challenge of ensuring they are smoked to perfection, every time.

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: “Find out what works for you. Don’t be afraid of experimenting. And most importantly, practice.”

Fun Fact: : Besides barbecuing, Matt’s favorite hobby is playing the drums and guitar. He started out at age 13 playing the guitar and picked up drums in his early 20s. Currently, he is the drummer and backup singer for a local Kansas City band called Forgotten Souls.
Matt Drummond - Freight House Pitmaster
Gary Kirkpatrick - Plaza Pitmaster

PLAZA - GARY KIRKPATRICK

Background: Before joining the Jack Stack Barbecue team, Gary worked at the Overland Park Houston’s as the grill cook for 20 years. Gary started his career with Jack Stack Barbecue in 2002 and worked on the grill at the Overland Park location. In 2006, Gary helped open the Country Club Plaza location, which he has called home for the last 11 years. His favorite memory at Jack Stack Barbecue is when he was promoted to Pit Master in 2006. He says, “It takes hard work, lots of focus and good teachers, which I had. You learn every day how to make yourself better.”

Favorite Menu Item: Gary’s favorite meat to smoke are the Pork Spare Ribs. He enjoys the rich flavor, fall off the bone tenderness and how it is still juicy after smoking for four to six hours.

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: “Low heat and don’t rush what you’re cooking. Great food takes time.”

Fun Fact: Gary was born and raised in Kansas City. He is a die-hard Royals and KU fan, but he shares equal amounts of love for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers. He says, “Brett Favre is the best quarterback of all time.”

LEE'S SUMMIT - JOSH BRODERICK

Background: Unlike the other Pit Masters, Josh came from a background in construction. With hopes to switch industries, Josh applied at Jack Stack Barbecue in 2004 and started as a dish washer and worked on the kitchen line at the Overland Park location. He worked his way up to carryout, grill and pit to finally becoming Pit Master at the Freight House in 2014. Three years ago, Josh helped our team open our newest store in Lee’s Summit and still calls this location his home. Josh says, “My favorite part of being a Pit Master is seeing the smiles and gratification when guests enjoy eating food I made.”

Favorite Menu Item: Josh’s favorite meat to smoke at Jack Stack is the Lamb Ribs. He says, “The Lamb Ribs are my daughters favorite, too. At home, I like barbecuing chicken. There’s so many ways you can smoke or grill chicken at home that you could have chicken seven days a week and it would all be different.”

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: Josh’s number one piece of advice would be staying patient. He says, “The most challenging part about my job is keeping all of the variables of the process consistent. Things as simple as the wood we use can make a big difference, whether it’s been rained on or how green it is when we got it are things that we can’t control, so we have to be persistent and work with what we’ve got.”

Fun Fact: Besides being the heart behind our remarkable barbecue, Josh has several hobbies outside of being in the pit. In his spare time, Josh loves to catfish and participates in catfish tournaments locally in the Kansas City area and out of state.
Josh Broderick - Lee's Summit Pitmaster


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