BUFFALO — The staff and customers of Midway BBQ rolled out the welcome wagon on Tuesday for the host and production crew of BBQ Crawl.
Danielle Dimovski — better known as “Diva Q” — visited Midway BBQ on Tuesday, along with the production crew of BBQ Crawl — a series by Travel+Escape and RTR Media. Dimovski is the host of the show, which is billed as “one woman’s passion to eat her way through the best BBQ joints in North America.”
During six weeks of filming, the 10-episode series will cover 11 states, 32 cities, five competitions and countless “barbecue joints.” The show will premiere in spring 2013 on Travel+Escape, which is available in 1.1 million households across Canada.
Dimovski sat down with The Union Daily Times and discussed how she acquired her dream job and became “Diva Q.” She said she was a corporate human resources manager for 10 years, but after the second of her three children was born, she and her husband decided it would be best for her to stay home full time. One event, however, changed her life.
“I’ve always been a heck of a cook,” Dimovski said. “I judged a barbecue contest, and I was hooked.”
From there, Dimovski took classes and began apprenticeships with some of the best pit masters, perfecting her craft and evolving into Diva Q. Diva Q won the title of world champion of pork in the 2011 Jack Daniels World Championship and is one of Canada’s highest ranked competitive barbecuers on the Kansas City Barbecue Society team listing.
Dimovski now owns 20 to 24 barbecues (smokers and grills) and has been featured on two seasons of the TLC show BBQ Pitmasters, NBC’s Today Show, Canada AM, CTV, The Marilyn Denis Show, Breakfast Television, Real Life and The W Network.
Diva Q said her pursuit of the best BBQ in America naturally led her to South Carolina and particularly Midway BBQ in Buffalo. Upon arrival, she said she liked the fact that it is half a meat store and half a restaurant with unique items on the menu. She also said she was taken by the Midway family.
“Everyone is so pleasant from the front to the back,” Dimovski said. “They’re incredible to deal with, and it’s in the super cute little town of Buffalo. The hospitality here is insane. We want people to travel to South Carolina. It’s a gorgeous state.”
Before filming began inside Midway BBQ, Diva Q warned the staff that she would be straight forward. When it was suggested that she try the hash, she explained that she does not like hash.
Midway BBQ owner Jay Allen led Dimovski on a tour of the restaurant which started in the back. Allen showed Diva Q a huge vat of onions, and she watched as he added spices, butter and 450 pounds of beef.
Dimovski even stirred the huge vat of hash with a power-stirrer made from a power drill, and she agreed to taste the hash, even though she does not like it.
After taking a bite, a look of surprise came over her and she went back for seconds.
“I am very shocked,” Dimovski said. “I never thought I’d actually find a hash that I like. This is amazing. This is like artisan hash.”
She asked Allen about the recipes used in the restaurant, and he explained that they were very old and had been passed down by his father-in-law, Jack O’Dell.
“When he hired me, he said, ‘You and I will get along great as long as you don’t change any of my recipes,’” Allen said, assuring that he had followed those instructions.
The next item Diva Q was led to sample was another Midway BBQ specialty, the chicken stew.
“It’s like a warm hug,” Dimovski said, describing the elements of the stew as savory and sexual. “I want a blankie and a pillow, a rocking chair, a bowl of that stew and a bowl of that hash — and never leave!”
Dimovski then sampled all of the items at Midway until she said she couldn’t eat another bite. She then talked about the differences in barbecue according to geography.
“South Carolina has a lot of vinegar influences,” she said. “And pork is the be all and end all. There’s not a lot of brisket like in Texas. Kansas barbecue is sweeter and Memphis is dryer.”
She went on to discuss her love for the art of barbecuing in general.
“Barbecue pitmasters are equally as important as the best sushi chefs or the best Italian chefs,” she said. “It’s not fast food. It’s food that has been made with passion and care. Even if I’ve filmed all week, on my day off, I go to barbecue joints. We need to celebrate them and their contributions to North American cuisine.”
Diva Q likes the fact that barbecuing is something that is accessible to all.
“Anybody can barbecue,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you have an old trash can turned into an ugly smoker or a $20,000 pit.”
Midway BBQ was the first South Carolina stop for BBQ Crawl. Dimovski said Midway was “old school” with its legendary recipes. When the BBQ Crawl crew left Midway, they were headed to Columbia to try barbecue from a food truck in Columbia, which she described as “new school,” combining barbecue with fusion cuisine and Asian influences.
To learn more about Danielle “Diva Q” Dimovski and the production of BBQ Crawl, visit www.divaq.ca.