FEATURE1 December 2011

My double life – Jared Huizenga


We meet Jared Huizenga, a field services manager who also leads a competitive barbecue team.

Tell us about your day job
I am the field services manager at Chadwick Martin Bailey, a market research and consulting firm based in Boston, Massachusetts. I work with our researchers and partners to ensure the fielding process goes well and produces the high-quality data we require.

Tell us about your other life
I am the pitmaster of the competition barbecue team Insane Swine BBQ. Our team can be found travelling all over the north-east of the US, competing in weekend-long barbecue and grilling contests. I’m also the vice president of the board of directors for the New England Barbecue Society, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes barbecue in this area of the country.

“The best competition cooks are the ones who have a process but who can also adjust well to adverse situations. The same can be said of the best researchers”

Which came first?
I’ve always loved eating barbecue. However, I didn’t start competing or get involved with the barbecue society until after joining Chadwick Martin Bailey.

How do you fit the two around each other?
It’s pretty easy since the barbecue and grilling competitions are always on the weekends. I practice for competitions at night or at weekends, and take Friday off before competition weekends.

Are you ever tempted to become a full-time barbecue pitmaster?
It’s really difficult to make a living as a competition barbecue team – some contests pay thousands of dollars to the winner, but the competition these days is extremely fierce. Many serious, well-known competitors also have restaurants or catering businesses, but the food service industry has its own challenges.

What does competitive cooking offer you that research doesn’t?
It combines three of the things I enjoy most: cooking, the outdoors and socialising with friends. Even though these events are competitions, the atmosphere is friendly and most competitors enjoy hanging out with each other.

What does research offer you that competitive cooking doesn’t?
Research offers stability and the opportunity to improve the products and services companies offer. As researchers we are often so entrenched in the specifics of individual studies that we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture and just how important market research is.

What does research teach you that you can use as a barbecue pitmaster?
My role as a researcher has taught me to how to follow a process and adapt to problems when they arise. There are many variables involved in cooking good barbecue: cooking temperature, meat selection, flavour profiles, fuel selection and the weather all play a part. A lot of planning is necessary to make sure everything goes according to schedule, but something always goes wrong. The best competition cooks are the ones who have a process but who can also adjust well to adverse situations. The same can be said of the best researchers.

What does competition cooking teach you as a researcher?
This hobby has enabled me to explore my passion for cooking while spending quality time with my friends and family. CMB has always stressed that employees should find the proper balance between work and personal life. I feel my life is in balance.

What do your colleagues say when you tell them about your other life?
Many of my colleagues are interested in what I do and I enjoy answering their questions about competitions or barbecue. They even get to sample some of my food – every year I cook barbecue for the whole firm. Colleagues donate money to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in exchange for all the barbecue they can eat.

What do your teammates say when you tell them you’re really a researcher?
They ask me if I’m the one who calls them during dinner trying to sell them things. I tell them that’s telemarketing. I’m the one who calls and asks if they will answer a bunch of questions.

If you had to give up one of your two lives, which would it be?
Luckily I don’t have to choose. I enjoy my job, but I dream of barbecue.

If you lead an exciting double life, why not tell us about it