ARLINGTON — He’s not quite as famous as Dave, but he’s working on it.
What’s up with that?
His creation, BBQ Mac Cup Pull-A-Parts, will be on the barbecue chain’s Washington menus, along with his name.
“It’s honestly a dream come true,” Evan said.
It’s a dream dish for diners: bacon-wrapped mac-and-cheese bites topped with burnt butt ends.
What’s not to love?
Evan won the Put It On The Menu category at the recent Famous Dave’s Washington BBQ Competition. It earned him fame and a check for $250.
The cook-off, a collaboration with the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association, was held at the Famous Dave’s in Everett, one of three statewide.
“The fact that I was invited blows me away,” Evan said. “There were some insane dishes. I was, ‘Oh my goodness, this is hopeless.’”
Other entries included pulled pork pizza, burnt ends poutine and tri-tip sliders.
The blind judging panel was composed of marketing entrepreneur Mike McCloud, 98.9 The Bull radio personality B-Dub, and Elaina Morris, president and CEO of Ascend Hospitality Group.
“What I was looking for was something that could be easily executed with a low food cost and had broad appeal,” Morris said. “He picked things that are traditional barbecue but put together in an innovative way. It’s a great family appetizer.”
Evan will work with a Famous Dave’s head chef to write the recipe so it can be made by line cooks.
“We are going to bring him in and go through what we call recipe and operation simplification and optimization,” Morris said. “It’s one thing to cook something in your back yard and it’s different to serve it broadly.”
Evan has spent a third of his life competing in cook-offs.
“This is my proudest dish,” he said.
Evan’s father, Brandon, is his mentor.
“When I was about 10 years old my dad started doing competitive cooking, and I helped him,” he said. “When I was 13, I decided to branch out and make my own team.”
His parents and three younger siblings — Violet, 14, Bently, 9, and Gabe, 8 — help on his Gladiator Barbecue team.
“Evan has the vision and puts everything together,” said his mom, Nicole.
He also assists on his dad’s Wackadoo Barbecue team.
The family is taking a two-week RV road trip to Tennessee in October to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue. Known as “The Jack,” it’s like the Golden Globes of BBQ. Evan will do side dishes on his dad’s team.
In November, he will compete in the burger category at the World Food Championships in Texas. His mom is going with him.
“It’s a sport,” she said. “Some kids play football. He cooks.”
“I’m working on getting my name known and out there,” Evan said. “I’ve worked really hard to get where I am, and now here I am.”
He is home-schooled and plans to finish high school in the spring.
“I’m only 15 and there are so many opportunities and doors are opening. I’d like to do something in the culinary aspect,” Evan said.
The family lives on his grandparents’ eight-acre Arlington farm.
Plenty of space for outdoor cooking.
“I believe right now my dad and I have 18 grills,” he said. “We started collecting them and my mom said, ‘You are going to find a place to put these that’s not by the house.’”
“They have smoked literally everything,” his mom said.
“We’ve tried cheesesteaks. Cheese puffs,” Evan said.
His favorite thing to eat: “Deep-fried chicken sticks on waffles with butter and syrup.”
For the Famous Dave’s challenge, the pit master kid did his homework.
“I tried just about every side and appetizer on the menu to navigate and figure out what ingredients they used and what they were missing on the menu,” he said.
That was the easy part.
“I took this very seriously. I had a Google spreadsheet of a bunch of different ideas and all the ingredients I wanted to use,” he said. “I’m not going to dip my toes in the water. I’m all in.”
Cooking the bacon was food rocket science.
“I wrapped aluminum foil into this little roll, then I wrapped the bacon around it and I measured it with my little ruler, then I put a sewing pin in and I baked it,” he said.
Evan also tried making barbecue cinnamon rolls.
“It was an odd flavor,” he said. “They don’t make cinnamon rolls with barbecue for a reason.”