55: Meet Kelly Gee

I get several submissions and suggestions each week on who to interview for this website. But when the normally passive Amy Garland Angel demanded that I interview Kelly Gee, I knew I'd better follow suit.

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Kelly Gee; I am lucky enough to be the Director of Catering at the Doubletree Hotel here in Little Rock; I was born and raised in Blytheville and I moved to Little Rock in 1989--so I've been here 25 years;  I have lived all over Downtown and Capital View with brief stints in Midtown and the Heights. I currently live in Lakewood in North Little Rock which I love. I've wanted to live over here on the lakes since I first got to town. North Little Rock really is the Living Side of the River.

2. Tell me a little about your fancy tailgating set-up: Several years back I glommed onto some friends' really sweet War Memorial tailgate site using BBQ as currency. Last year, through Kickstarter and the help of several friends and family members, I acquired a 7' tall 1100lb rotary smoker from Boco Roto Smokers in Greenbrier. It's an absolutely beautiful piece of equipment and so much fun to cook with. It has four large rotating shelves that can hold up to six shoulders each or four to six racks of ribs each and it also has two large grills that pull out over the fire pit that can hold up to 60 steaks. 

I learned to bbq from my Dad and Uncle when I was 8 and I've wanted a pull behind smoker for as long as I can remember. I currently use it to tailgate, compete in BBQ competitions, host parties or whatever else may happen to come up. My wife, Erika, is a true saint for putting up with a hobby that could be considered fairly obnoxious by most mortal wives as I can feed a ridiculous amount of people with it. Fortunately for me, she is very supportive and makes some of the best BBQ sides and sauce in the state. Ask anyone. 

A typical tailgate now will include ribs, pulled pork, smoked chickens or wings and sometimes pork tenderloin or beef tri-tip. At the last game we even did smoked crab legs. Next up is a grilled oyster party and I plan to compete in the Buzz-B-Q competition in May. True fact: It's physically impossible to be unhappy while BBQing.

3. If you ate a different meal at a different local restaurant for a day, what would they be? I sure do like to eat so this could go in so many directions. I have a serious fried chicken problem so if it were Wednesday I might consider 'the Holy Trinity' of fried chicken in Little Rock: Gus's, Capital Bar & Grill and South on Main but that would only cover Wednesday from 11am-2pm. On a typical day if I could eat anything, anywhere I would have to say breakfast would probably be at the Root. I've yet to try their biscuits and gravy so I think I would start there-- I've heard it's perfection and everything I've had there has always been great. Plus, you would be hard-pressed to find two nicer people than Jack and Corri. For lunch I would probably pick Cotija's because I love Mexican food and I work downtown. They have great cheese dip and salsa verde--and the Carne Asada Diablo is as good as anything. Dinner would either be the ribeye at South on Main or the filet with cognac sauce at Vesuvio.  I'm definitely a steak guy, but both places also offer some of the best starters in town. South on Main has some really fantastic grilled oysters and Vesuvio has the famous and decadent Spaghetti Chitarra. I'd do bad things for either.  

4. What activities do you and your family enjoy doing together in LR? Our favorite family activity is camping but you can't do a whole lot of that in Little Rock proper. We really enjoy the park at Lake 3 in Lakewood since we can walk to it. There's a nice playground and a jogging trail around the lake which is great for walking our dogs. We also enjoy Pinnacle Mountain and Burns Park a lot. We spend a lot of time working in the yard but only because we have to and, of course, we like to cook. Erika and I do most of it but my oldest son is really getting pretty good at it. His specialty is meatloaf.    

5. Finish this sentence: My perfect evening in Little Rock involves...spending it with as many family and friends as possible. There isn't a better feeling in the world than being surrounded by everyone that makes your life what it is on a pretty day. Every year we host a pig roast at our house and invite as many people over as we can and it's always my favorite day of the year (outside of possibly Christmas). If we're talking a more typical perfect day it would be a lazy Saturday and would involve Erika and I cooking something in the kitchen or on the grill and then board games with her and the kids. I've considered changing my name to Milton Bradley.

Note to Kelly: Hubs has never been to a Proper Southern Tailgate Party,  so we'll be crashing on of yours as one of our 52 Things.