Growing up Lea Richards and her family would go on family vacations every year and turn each trip into one big barbecue hunt. They literally went to every so-called BBQ hot spot and had their fingers deliciously smeared from digging into A LOT of different kinds of barbecue. As Lea describes it, “we went through some tough ones (pun intended), but we also found some authentic, finger-lickin’ good ones—usually from mom-and-pop restaurants and other hole-in-the-wall dining places. And after scouring every town, city, state, or region, our search has finally ended. Guess where? Right in our kitchen. But, we realized that we need not continue the hunt, fun as it was. We didn’t have to go anywhere for the best barbecue. We had all the experience, tips, and recipes from around the country to make the best barbecue in the country, right in our house!”
Thus began the Pig of the Month BBQ business in 2010. Lea left her hectic life on Wall Street in 2010 and began the mail order barbecue company. Recreating her favorite barbecues from different regions, she makes smoked barbecue ribs, award winning pulled pork, specialty sausages, gourmet bacon, BBQ sides, and lip-smacking Award Winning BBQ sauces—and share the goodness with you! Pig of the Month offers ribs just the way all barbecue lovers want them: perfectly seasoned, tender-on-the-inside but crispy-on-the-outside, smoky, and mouthwatering—just tear-off-the-bones good barbecue.
This 2009 UD grad has grown her business into a successful company and has been featured on Good Morning America, been written about in Forbes Magazine and had her BBQ featured in Playboy Magazine. She’s won awards for her Mustard based BBQ sauce and Martha Stewart Magazine recognized Pig of the Month as a Best Gift, while Southern Living Magazine awarded them with the Best Ribs title. They’ve filled orders for Whoopi Goldberg, Iron Chef Michael Symon, Paula Deen, Stephen Colbert and Chelsea Handler.
Pig of the Month has been nominated as one of 100 finalists in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest and will find out at the end of March if she’ll be awarded a grant to help her “expand her product line and offer her customers even more delicious items to choose from.” In the meantime Lea agreed to answer our Chef 10 Questions:
Well, I think this may be a bit obvious, but Bacon!
2. What ingredient do you dread?
Personally, anything I don’t like to eat: shrimp, fennel, or oysters mainly.
3. What’s your favorite dish to make?
For an easy weeknight meal, fish tacos. For something dressier I make a killer wild mushroom bread pudding.
4. What’s your favorite pig out food?
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches made with pulled pork, pimento cheese, and extra BBQ sauce
5. What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
I’m obsessed with Roost, I love the patio at Lily’s, and you can’t beat lunch at Coldwater Cafe.
6. What’s your best advice for home chefs?
Follow the recipe to the T the first time, and then experiment to make it your own once you know what its supposed to taste like.
Winston Churchill for the commentary, George Clooney to seduce, Anna Kendrick because she’s Anna Kendrick, and Grant Aschatz to help me cook.
8. Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
Since our business is mostly mail order, I tend to be more in the business side of things nowadays.
I do admire what Kim at Olive, An Urban Dive has done though – she sticks to all natural ingredients, uses local suppliers, and works hard to make sure everything is cooked from scratch. That’s something I try to replicate at Pig of the Month
9. What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off?
I love the MetroParks! I go trail running with my puppy at Englewood and Wegerzyn all the time. And then I head to Roost for a cocktail and some truffle fries 🙂
10. Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story:
When I first started my business we were lucky enough to be asked by Michael Symon to be on Good Morning America as a last minute segment. At that time I was still cooking all the ribs and everything all by my lonesome, and I found myself with 4,000+ orders to fulfill all at once.
Since I had never cooked so many ribs at one time, I didn’t realize that when I flipped them that all of the grease would hit the charcoal all at once….yep, you guessed it. Big flames!
I had to call everyone and let them know their orders would be late, and it took a week for pro’s to clean it all up! Lesson learned!