Smoking Section

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: Lifestyle Issue: June 2015
Group Mid-Level
Character count 2500

“People want them falling off the bone,” says Mark Vinci, a Phoenix artist and barbecue entrepreneur. “Really good ribs don’t fall off the bone; you should bite them and they should have a bite mark without the whole thing just falling apart.”

Vinci is the creator of the Ribalizer, a device that smokes ribs in a fraction of the time it typically takes – only two hours compared to the usual five or six – on the grill or in the oven. And he’s not the only Valley barbecue pro spreading the gospel of holy smoke to enthusiastic meat plebes.

Scott Holmes, the mastermind behind PHOENIX magazine’s 2014 Best New Restaurant, Little Miss BBQ, recently partnered with his business neighbor John Rippel of Rippel Industries to manufacture and sell smokers commercially. Not just any smokers – Rippel takes old propane tanks and marries them with freshly cold-rolled steel and brushed aluminum to transform them into big, beautiful beasts for meat smoking. It all started when Holmes was looking for a bigger, better, cooler-looking smoker for LMB. Rippel, whose business does welding, fabrication and high-end car restoration, took Holmes’ dream list of smoker specs and went to work.

Mark Vinci, creator of the Ribalizer“It was definitely a new challenge and I definitely had to go back to the drawing board, but with the input from Scott and the designs on what he was thinking and kind of incorporating that,” Rippel says. “Just coming up with a design and a look that made the smoker look cool.”

Holmes wasn’t the only one impressed with the result. “Every day we get people in here like, ‘Oh, those are gorgeous smokers,’ ‘Where did you get it?’ ‘Who made it?’” Holmes says of the duo’s collaborations, which they’ve christened Camelback Smokers. “There’s nobody in Phoenix or the Southwest that makes smokers like that... It’s the small details that make barbecue better, whether it’s the way the air flows, the way things are laid out, the size of the firebox, how much air you have moving through the chamber.”

It’s precisely these details that Vinci endeavors to simulate with the Ribalizer. “It just compresses the whole thing,” he says, in a user-friendly way that lets even rookie smokers master the all-important rack of ribs.

“Barbecue’s just something that always brings people together,” Holmes says. Finally, something all barbecue fiends can agree on.

Smoke Up
Channel your inner Texan – or Kansan or Tennesseean – with these locally developed smokers.

Camelback Smokers
basic model; custom smokers priced individually