Oct. 12, 2019

By Layne Stracener of the Tribune

Jason and Megan Day, the husband-and-wife duo behind the Lee’s Summit-based professional barbecue team Burnt Finger BBQ, first began competing in professional barbecue competitions as a family hobby.

When Jason’s signature recipe, Bacon Explosion, was featured on the front page of the New York Times in 2009, it exploded into a viral sensation and was named “the most downloaded recipe in the history of the internet.”

This encouraged the duo to turn their hobby into a business.

“It’s very rewarding,” Jason said. “It’s the American Dream, to have something that you love and you’re passionate about turn into a career. It’s awesome.”

Since its founding in 2008, Burnt Finger BBQ has won countless awards at professional barbecue competitions, and the couple began selling their own line of Kansas City-style sauces and rubs.

The duo tours the country promoting live-fire cooking at barbecue competitions, festivals, radio stations, retail stores, cooking schools, trade shows, TV shows and more. They’ve made appearances on Fox & Friends, CNN, The Today Show, Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

Recently, Burnt Finger BBQ’s chicken drumsticks and ribs were named one of the HSN (Home Shopping Network) “customer picks” in the first month they were launched. Once a product is launched on HSN, it must reach a certain number of five-star reviews to be named a customer pick.

The couple also recently launched their pulled pork on HSN. Jason said his goals are to have appearances on the show within the next year and add more products to the network and to more retail stores across the country.

Last month, Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s began carrying Burnt Finger BBQ’s “Smokey KC” barbecue sauce nationwide.

“It’s a dream come true,” Megan said. “It really is. To have our products available nationwide, where anybody can physically go in and pick it up off of the shelf and take it home with them, that’s the best part about it.”

In February, Southern Living named Megan Day one of the “Most Influential Women in Southern Barbecue.” Megan said when she received that news from a phone call out of the blue, she was shocked.

“From such a prestigious periodical, that was pretty exciting, especially for someone that doesn’t own a restaurant,” Megan said. “I think that probably the most fascinating piece about it is being able to get that recognition based on not necessarily having that restaurant where someone can come in and try my food.”

When the couple first began their business, Jason was the head pit-master, and Megan quit her full-time corporate job to run the marketing for the business – but she wanted to do more.

“If I’m going to be spending that much time at barbecue contests, I wanted to play too,” Megan said. “I wanted to get in there and see what I was made of.”

In 2017, Megan made appearances on the Food Network’s “Chopped: Grill Masters” season four, winning the preliminary round and beating all the other pit-masters in the season finale.

“I went out there and did it completely on my own,” Megan said. “That was a big turning point for me was that I had my own flavor and style as opposed to just doing what the team does.”

Megan said she and her husband are fortunate to be so successful in Kansas City’s prestigious, crowded barbecue market, let alone across the country.

“I absolutely believe that passion is what people can feel, and they can taste it,” Megan said. “We’ve been able to build that excitement and really execute it and have opportunities that have opened up so that we can get it across the country.”

Burnt Finger BBQ products can also be found online at BurntFingerBBQ.com and locally at A Thyme For Everything (229 S.E. Main St.) and Westlake Ace Hardware (444 S.W. Ward).