Grilling Tips from Sweet Baby Ray's

For some expert advice, ABC7 consulted a real pro. Chef Duce Raymond of Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue ( restaurants in Wood Dale and Elk Grove Village is the nephew of Dave Raymond, the creator of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce, one of the top selling sauces in the U.S. The restaurant's rib recently took first place in the Best Ribs competition, and earned second place for the Best Sauce in the Naperville Ribfest.

Chef Duce says the first thing to do is decide what kinds of ribs you'll use: ST. LOUIS STYLE RIBS vs. BABY BACK RIBS. Here's his explanation:

  • St. Louis Style Ribs (STL) are cut from the spare rib. The brisket bone and mea tare cut off, leaving a long square slab of ribs. We buy two and down STL Ribs, which means they will not be more than 2 pounds a slab. They will have approximately 12 bones per slab. They are meaty and have a slightly higher fat content than Baby back ribs.
  • Then bones on STL ribs are larger, wider and flatter then baby backs. When you slice in-between the bones of the STL rib you will notice that the majority of the meat rests on top of the bone rather than in-between the bone as it is in the baby back ribs. Almost all the meat in Baby backs are in-between the bones.
  • STL ribs are much more popular in the south. STL ribs are less expensive and have more meat so I think they are a better value. We season our STL ribs with our own blend of spices and smoke them over young hickory wood for 3 – 3.5 hours. When they are finished smoking we put them on the grill and brush them with Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce.
  • Baby Back Ribs are cut from higher up on the back of the pig. We use a 1and ¾ and down rib, peeled at our restaurants. Peeled refers to the thin membrane being peeled off the back of the ribs, to allow the seasoning and smoke to penetrate the meat. The meat on baby back ribs is a little more lean and tender. The baby back ribs only take 2.5 hours in the smoker over young hickory wood.
  • Baby back ribs are widely known in Chicago. In our restaurants we sell 9 to 1 Baby to STL. The other place where baby back ribs are more widely used is in Memphis.


    10. Clean, preheat, & season grill before cooking.

    9. Season or marinate foods well before grilling to enhance flavor.

    8. Sear steaks, chops, and fish at high temperatures to lock in juices and flavor.

    7. Use tongs or spatula to prevent puncturing food with a fork and loosing juices.

    6. For perfect grill marks, rotate foods from 10:00 to 2:00 with 3 turns.

    5. Never leave the grill unattended. Be patient and don't ever abandon your post.

    4. Learn to cook by sight: Watch the edge of meats become opaque indicating doneness.

    3. Learn to cook by touch: Soft = Rare Some Resistance = Medium Firm = Well Done

    2. NEVER trust a skinny Chef!


    Authentic Urban Chicago Style Barbecue: Sweet Baby Ray's Style

    Chicago is not one of the barbecue capitols of the world, but you can still get world class barbecue in the Windy City. "When you put it all together Chicago is not on the top tier of BBQ, says Chef Duce Raymond, of Sweet Baby Ray's restaurant. "I believe we are at the top of the second tier, and as such deserving of our own style and standards. Sweet Baby Ray's is attempting to further define what Chicago BBQ is and what it is about."

    Chef Duce gets his inspiration from his uncle Dave, the creator of Sweet Baby ray's BBQ Sauce, one of the best selling sauces in the country..

    "We are attempting to use our ideas for what we know Chicago BBQ to be," the chef explains:

    Authentic hickory smoked meats: Meats have been smoked in Chicago since the days of the stockyards when Chicago was known as the hog butcher to the world. Chicago's rib joints on the south and west sides are guys who worked their way up from the south and expanded on what they learned, where they came from.

    Pulled pork with sauce on it: Chicagoans love sauce, and love to put sauce on their pork sandwich. We have bottles of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce on the tables at both restaurants, and bowls of warm sauce available in Wood Dale. Warm sauce is available on request in Elk Grove.

    Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce: We use only Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce. It was created in Chicago, and has a 42% retail share of the Chicago market. More than 2,000 food service customers are using it. We started the company, why would we use anything else?

    We feature baby back ribs (loin back ribs): Chicago is a baby back rib town. Our spec is 11-13 bones per slab, 13/4lbs and down, no more than 21/2" on the short end, no more than 1 ½ larger than the small end, skinned, and absolutely no shiners!

    St Louis style spareribs: While not nearly as popular as baby back ribs, Chicagoans prefer the St. Louis cut of spare ribs to spare ribs common in most other southern markets.

    Rib Tips: Chicagoans love rib tips. Our Wood Dale location alone does more than 700 pounds each week. Rib Tips, French fries and white bread…that's barbecue to lots of folks.

    Sincere effort to produce the best products: "I do not know of any other BBQ place that has six professionally trained chefs, " Raymond says.

    Using the best products available to us: Being in a major urban city, we have available more product, fresher food stuffs and in some instances, better companies to work with, and access to better personnel, all of which we believe in.

    For more information: Sweet Baby Ray's 249 E. Irving Park Rd., Wood Dale, Ill. 60191 (630) 238-8261

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