Thursday, Oct. 04 2012 5:29PM
‘Napa Valley of barbecuing and grilling’
Lee’s Summit man, wife take love of grilling to next level
By Toriano Porter
What exactly is a “Grill Mayor?”
Ask Craig Jones of Lee’s Summit and he’ll tell you.
In September, Jones was voted Grill Mayor 2012 in a national online contest sponsored by McCormick’s seasoning and hosted on the Food Network lifestyle network.
The contest invited grill enthusiasts from around the country to give a key grilling tip accompanied by a photo. Jones’ “Master of the Grill” entry garnered more 7,777 views and more than 4,000 votes of online support during 20 days in August.
Thing is Jones didn’t start campaigning for votes until more than halfway through the contest.
“The voting was suppose to be between Aug. 1 and Aug. 20,” Jones said Oct. 3, a day before he appeared on an area television station’s morning newscast to offer grilling tips to viewers. “As my wife will tell you I get distracted with so many things – I totally forgot about the contest. About the 12th of August, I thought I needed to check into the contest. I had zero votes. Through Facebook and a lot of friends I said ‘hey guys you know me. You know I post pictures almost every night. Help me on this.’
“Because of that the web page had over 7,000 views which was like three times more than anybody else…and I was voted the Grill Mayor.”
Jones said he cooks outside on his collection of seven grills and smokers more than 300 days a year. His passion for live-fire cooking inspired Jones and his wife, Gay, to create a business based on a signature item he created on the grill – Savory Addictions Gourmet Nuts.
Jones seasons deluxe nuts by hand in small batches, and then smokes them over real wood, creating an explosion of sweet, savory and smoky flavor that permeates the nuts.
Savory Addictions Gourmet Nuts are available online ( www.savoryaddictions.com) as well as in several Kansas City area specialty retailers, including A Thyme for Everything and The Red Door Wine Store in downtown Lee’s Summit.
The Kansas City Star Food Issue 2012 listed Savory Addictions No. 2 on a list of 35 “people, places and things that make us drool” and what makes Kansas City a great food town.
“I work alongside Craig in the kitchen from front to back,” Gay Jones said of her role in Savory Addictions. “Everything from prepping the nuts to the smoking process to the cooling, bagging, sealing and delivering. I’m kind of there with him on everything. It’s definitely a joint effort.”
As Grill Mayor of 2012, Jones and his wife will fly to New York City next June for a private tour of the Food Network studios and have dinner at a Food Network chef’s restaurant, among other prizes. The couple plans to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Big Apple, but also use the experience as a chance to spread the word about their savory concoction.
“I’m really excited and really for a couple of different reasons,” said Craig Jones, a workforce management specialist at Sprint. His co-workers there are the ones who inspired the Joneses to create Savory Addictions. “I watch Food Network a lot and I think it would be cool to go to the studios and see what it’s like. I think it would be cool to see what that process is like there.
“For our business as well – Savory Addictions. I think it can be a good contact for us to get known. I would love to get our product in some of the hands of the guys up there because it is so unique. Nobody does what we do.”
Added Gay Jones: “Definitely looking forward to the trip. Being able to represent what we call the Napa Valley of barbecuing and grilling which is Kansas City. We’re looking forward to being good stewards and representatives in that aspect. I’m really looking forward to bringing our great flavors to the people of the East Coast.”
As for the title of Grill Mayor 2012, Craig Jones won with one simple tip: “Any recipe that you can do inside can be converted to cook outside....which is a heck of a lot more fun...and of course tastes much better,” the winning entry stated in part.
“Basically my tip was that you should be cooking outside 12 months out of the year,” Craig Jones said. “Not just burgers and brats, but anything. Anything you cook inside you can cook outside. If you know your grill (well) you can make it work like an oven.”