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MY YODER STORY: Yoder Smokers pellet grills motivate a father
and his two sons to perfect the art of BBQ, win first competition

A pair of Yoder Smokers pellet grills stoked an already-burning fire for a father and his two sons; the pursuit for the perfect BBQ soon followed and brought an entire family together.

It all started when Aaron Daniels brought home his Yoder Smokers YS640 pellet grill in late 2017. His father, Dan, a long-time barbecue enthusiast accustomed to an offset stick burner, had been researching pellet grills and was immediately impressed.

“Right out of the gate, the quality of the build is excellent,” Dan said. “With how heavy that thing is, it’s going to hold its heat. Just online reading about it and looking at photos and YouTube videos, the quality is impressive. It’s a freakin’ big ol’ bombshell. I knew it was something that was going to last forever.”

It wasn’t long before Dan decided on a YS640 for himself.


Now with two Yoder Smokers pellet grills in the family, Aaron and Dan were inspired to up their BBQ game to competition level.

Aaron’s brother, Evan, joined in and the father and sons got to work on their craft, spending a good part of their evenings and weekends perfecting techniques.

Most Sundays, Dan and his wife, Lisa, would host a barbecue in the backyard of their Tenino, WA, home. Friends and family became impromptu BBQ judges as the three men worked the two pits.


And then it got serious.

Evan’s longtime girlfriend, Tiffany, heard about an upcoming local competition and thought it might be time to turn things up a notch.

“They have done so well with mastering timing and everything on the Yoder,” Tiffany said. “It’s insane how good the food is.”

The father and sons registered in March as “The Three Pellets” for July’s Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally in Yelm, Washington, leaving four months to prepare. They decided to hold a practice competition not unlike so many of those Sunday afternoons, but this time pitting Dan, Aaron and Evan against each other.

“Next thing you know, 50 people are in my backyard and there’s a big bonfire and three smokers going,” Dan said. “But it was a total blast.”

The contest was structured just like the real thing, with Dan, Aaron and Evan turning in competition-style boxes conforming to standard entry guidelines. Retired and with decades of experience grilling and smoking, Dan might have had the advantage and took the gold.


The day of the competition finally came, and Three Pellets didn’t know what to expect. Dan, Aaron and Evan were so focused on prep work, they hardly slept the night before.

“When you’ve never done it, you have nothing to go off,” Aaron said. “Me personally I was like, ‘Man as long as we don’t get last, then we did pretty dang good.’ ”

Aaron’s son, Logan, enjoys a rib during the competition in May.

Evan was skeptical their turn-ins would even compare to those more-experienced competitors and their boxes. Dan felt the same, but would ultimately be happy with any outcome.

“No matter what, I’m the winner,” Dan said. “I don’t care if I get last place. I’m here with my two boys just having a blast. It’s fun, and it’s a family thing.”

But intimidation set in as Three Pellets arrived at the contest pulling a motorcycle trailer carrying Aaron’s and Dan’s YS640’s. The contest was stacked with 10 other experienced competitors, and some teams were cooking on smokers that cost upwards of $12,000.

Even with more expensive smokers on the grounds, the Yoder Smokers pits stood out.

“Throughout the event, we had a lot of people come over to check them out,” said Dan. “They said they always see them online, but hadn’t seen one in person. One guy wanted to look over the entire rig.”


A host of family, including Tiffany’s parents and grandparents, attended the competition to support the Three Pellets and their dual Yoder Smokers pellet grills throughout the day.

Once the turn-ins were complete, the time had come. As the results were announced, family and friends erupted in cheers and excitement. The competition trophies were awarded and Three Pellets learned they’d earned 1st place for their chicken and ribs, as well as 3rd place for brisket.

Dan said he already knew the Yoder Smokers pits produced the best BBQ, but he was surprised they were able to beat competitors who spend every weekend participating in competitions.

“Words could not describe how proud the family was of them,” Tiffany said. “They worked so hard and did not sleep the whole night before. All the boys kept saying was how much fun they had and how they got to do it with their dad.”

The Three Pellets plan to continue competing in contests and in their own backyards, and soon they’ll be adding another Yoder Smokers pit to their team as Evan prepares to purchase his own Yoder Smokers pit.

As for the rest of the family, they’re looking forward to more perfectly-cooked BBQ.

“I truly believe your smokers are by far the best out there,” said Tiffany, “and this family couldn’t be more pleased with how these amazing smokers make such delicious food.”

My Yoder story: Love at first cook


Successful BBQ competitor now prefers Yoder Smokers pits over all others

If someone would have told award-winning BBQ competitor Randy Robinett two years ago that he’d primarily be cooking on a pellet grill, he would have laughed.

But since being introduced to Yoder Smokers pellet grills, the co-owner of R Butts R Smokin’ – a Kansas City-area BBQ company and competition team – has sold his other grills and is finding great success cooking exclusively on Yoder pits.

Whether it be smoking, baking, grilling or searing, Randy said he’s discovered Yoder Smokers pellet grills do it all, and he’s impressed with the pits’ quality and consistency, along with the award-winning flavorful food they produce. He uses Yoders on the competition circuit, at home and for BBQ catering he offers for weddings and special events.

“Even my charcoal grills – I got rid of them,” said Randy. “My Yoders have amazing versatility. I can grill as good of a steak on them as I ever have.”

And the flavor …

“I am so impressed with the flavor I get out of my Yoders,” he said. “I use a combination of pecan and cherry pellets. I get amazing color, perfectly-cooked meat and a nice, clean smoky taste. I’m just thoroughly impressed by the quality of food these things are putting out.”

First introduction

The winner of 19 BBQ competition grand championships, R Butts R Smokin’ rolls into BBQ contests with a 22-foot bright red trailer, featuring a 14-foot enclosed area and an 8-foot porch. After the last BBQ contest season, Randy said R Butts was looking to upgrade their trailer with new grills.

“I was wanting a change,” he said. “I had cooked on the same smoker since 2007. It was getting old and having issues.”

A good friend recommended Yoder Smokers, and after doing some research and talking with others, Randy was convinced.

R Butts had Yoder Smokers customize the porch area with a YS480 pellet grill and a Cimarron pellet smoker, both mounted on custom storage enclosures. Randy picked up the trailer from Yoder Smokers’ manufacturing facility in early March and didn’t skip a beat in winning more grand championships.

In late April, R Butts was awarded the top honor of Grand Champion at the Rock N’ Ribs BBQ Festival in Springfield, MO, – the first time the team competed with their upgraded rig. They also earned second place in chicken and brisket, 7th place in pork and 8th in ribs.

Competing against 38 other tough competitors, including the top BBQ cooks in the country, Randy said it was taste that pushed R Butts to the top. Judges gave the team top marks in flavor.

“My new setup is simply amazing,” he said. “I cook brisket, pork butts and ribs all on the Cimarron. The meat that comes off my Cimarron is moist, flavorful and has amazing color.”

The YS480 produces perfect chicken, Randy said.

“The YS480 is an amazing chicken cooker,” he said. “It’s hard to get chicken skin to render out so you have bite-through skin. With the YS480 that has not been an issue at all. It seems that the design of the YS480 was meant to be a chicken cooker.”

Randy has been so taken with Yoder pits, he bought a YS640 pellet grill for catering and his own personal use and recommends the grills to friends.

“Two of my buddies have bought a 1500 and a 640,” Randy said.

The beginning

Randy and a college buddy formed R Butts R Smokin’ in 2004 as a competition BBQ team. The operation soon morphed into a full-fledged business, which now includes the sale of six signature BBQ rubs Randy developed in his kitchen.

“I never would have dreamed that we would have a line of products we sell all around the world,” he said.

After more than a decade of competing, Randy said he was slowing down in the world of BBQ competition. But being introduced to Yoder Smokers has reinvigorated him.

“It’s put a fire under my butt, and I want to do more contests,” he said.

Memories and moments with Joe Giuffria

When Joe Giuffria was a teenager, he met someone who would be very influential in his life, starting him on a path that would eventually take his passion to YouTube. That person was Steve Lucchi. In his youth, Joe remembers his family going out to dinner with Steve to restaurants where they would be enjoying a fine meal or the perfect barbecue, and Steve would say, “Seize the moment, it’s all about the memories and the moments.”Joe Giuffria - Southern Coastal Cooking

A few years later, in 2002, Steve gave Joe a moment he would never forget. Steve invited Joe and his father to accompany him to Memphis in May. Joe had been experimenting with barbecue and grilling in college with his buddies as a hobby. But the invite to Memphis in May lit a spark. “They were so gracious and the presentation, the way they interacted with the judges, the whole experience was amazing,” said Joe.

And it couldn’t get any better when Steve’s team, The Southern Gentlemen’s Culinary Society, took 1st place in whole hog and 2nd in ribs among other calls. Joe and his father were invited up on stage with the team to accept the award. Joe vividly remembers the moment when his dad held the huge trophy and he looked out over the Mississippi river as the passing barges honked their approval.

Joe knew then, that his hobby was going to become a passion. He had deep roots in the love of food, his two grandmothers were exceptional cooks. One was Italian, the other cooked in the deep south tradition called soul food. Looking back, it seems only natural that those memories would lead Joe to pick up his own style of cooking. And his own type of barbecue, a combination of Memphis and Texas styles. So Joe set to work cooking for family and friends. Experimenting with styles and flavors influenced by the southern Gulf coast area. His flavor experiments kept coming back to barbecue.

A few years later, Joe was using Google to find recipes and stumbled upon the Louisiana Cajun Recipe channel on YouTube. The channel owner, JB Bond, always has a “Spring Fling” at his Southern Coastal Cookinghouse and invites everyone to come for boiled crawfish, barbecue and jambalaya. Joe went in 2009 and met JB in hopes of getting pointers to start his own YouTube channel. In that moment he found a mentor and a friend. The Southern Coastal Cooking YouTube channel was launched.

Next came the trial and error of finding the best cooking equipment. If you have followed Joe’s channel, you know he’s tried several types of cookers. And he spent quite a bit of time researching smokers. He visited online forums and Facebook groups, he watched what other YouTuber’s like Troy Smith were using for their cooks. He talked to manufacturers and even had some come demonstrate for him. He saw a photo of Malcom Reed and his YS480. Ultimately, all of Joe’s research lead him to the Yoder Smokers YS640. “I saved and saved for it” Joe recalls. On July 7, 2015, after a year of research, he finally ordered what he calls “an investment in a quality piece of equipment.”

Joe understands what it means to make a big purchase. He used to sell appliances and now he sells cars. Joe says there is a lot of emotion when it comes to making an important purchase. “There is something inside you, like butterflies in your stomach,” he said, “it became a spur of the moment decision but it was the right one.” He was so excited he made a video about the purchase before it arrived!

This is the grill for a lifetime.

YS640 Joe GiuffriaJoe cooks on the YS640 at least once a week. If he’s not shooting a video, he’s experimenting with new recipes. And he’s added a wood fired Kingman to his line up. His favorite thing to cook is brisket but says, “it does wonderful with anything you want to put on there.”

Aside from the excellent build quality, which Joe reviews in one of his videos, he says the great thing is you can set it and forget it. “A lot of people are so worried about all the probes and temperature,” said Joe, “Don’t fuss with it so much, trust the cooker. It’s meant to mimic a wood burning fire. It will get it done.” Now that Joe has really learned about his YS640, he prefers to cook to touch. “When I feel a brisket I can tell, when it jiggles, it’s soft to the touch and I can push a chopstick in it, it’s done,” said Joe.Kingman Comp - Guiffria

It’s been almost four years since he purchased his first Yoder Smokers pellet grill. He’s created many memorable meals and shared many special moments with his family over dinners he’s cooked. And now, his daughter expressed an interest in learning to cook, even trying to help in effort to be a part of the videos.  When asked to review the product and the company Joe says, “I’ve had a great experience with Yoder, I’ve never had any issues. This is a long-term investment you won’t have to replace.”

Yoder Smokers YS640 Review

Yoder Smokers YS640 ReviewRyan Wallace purchased a YS640 2016.  About a year later he stopped to reflect on his purchase.  In this video, Ryan tells why he bought the Yoder Smokers YS640.  He also goes over the pros and cons of owning the smoker and covers Yoder Smokers maintenance.   The video review of the Yoder Smokers YS640 is posted here and the transcript is below if you prefer to read his comments. Continue reading