Big Lee’s Big Break

Food Network host and celebrity chef Guy Fieri got his claim to fame in 2006 when he was crowned the Next Food Network Star. Adored by people all over the world for his personality, tastebuds and bleach blonde hair, Fieri has been inspiring foodies with his “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” finds since the show debuted in 2006.

Guy Fieri understands what it is like to have a passion for something and want to share it. So, in 2017, he and Food Network decided it was time to pay it forward by hosting a show that would find the next big star. The winner of “Guy’s Big Project” would get their own show on the Food Network. The challenge was finding someone who embodied the same drive and charisma for cuisine as Fieri.

When Ocala’s Rashad Jones, owner of Big Lee’s Serious About Barbecue, heard about the new show, his ears perked up. He had watched Fieri over the years and had always rooted for him and his success. This was his chance to make it happen for himself. Something told him to go for it. All too often in life when people learn of rare opportunities, they dismiss them thinking, “What are the chances?” But not Rashad Jones. The Ocala-proud barbecue slayer and food truck entrepreneur believes if you are the “most authentic version of yourself and you work hard, good things will happen.” So he decided to give it his best shot and audition for the show. It was the best decision he could have made because his personality and flair for barbecue knocked their socks off! Not only was he chosen to participate in the competition, but his concept for a travelling food show actually went on to win “Guy’s Big Project”!

After the big announcement of Jones’ win, patrons flooded his Ocala food truck making the line even longer than usual. People waited for a half-hour just to congratulate Jones. Some brought balloons and gifts; others came with well wishes for success. They all left with food from the Food Network star’s food truck, Big Lee’s.

Jones will be the first to tell you there ain’t no shame in his barbecue game! He is a self-proclaimed barbecue nerd and his life revolves around all things barbecue. His dreams came true when his concept for “Eat, Sleep, BBQ” won “Guy’s Big Project.” This allowed him to go on a mission searching for the nation’s best barbecue joints, and rapping about them along the way. Throughout his travels on the show, he discovered some insanely creative recipes and techniques, as well as traditional styles of barbecue with authentic homestyle flavors that will have your mouth watering for smoky goodness. Jones feels passionately about barbecue and believes it should be an experience that evokes all your senses — from the smell of the burning wood to the sizzle and quiet crackle you hear coming from the smoker. The true tell of a good sandwich is when you can feel the sauce seeping out onto your fingers and the meat falls apart in your mouth.

“Eat, Sleep, BBQ” will have you craving ‘cue in no time. And don’t be surprised if watching the show inspires a road trip to one of the spots he features, because they all look amazing!
Season One of “Eat, Sleep, BBQ” was a huge success. Fans are anxiously awaiting more episodes to air and we’re curious to see what Food Network has in store for Ocala’s own barbecue mastermind, Rashad Jones!

Ocala native Amber Tompkins has always had a passion for good food and classic southern hospitality and believes that food is a universal language.

Elle, since we’re light on copy with this story, maybe you can use this quote as a design feature.

“My passion for smoking meats developed years ago when I first witnessed my wife’s uncle, Leon (aka “Big Lee”), and his incredible skills on the smoker.” — Rashad Jones

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