BBQ secrets stashed in Buffalo Grove
Buffalo Grove resident Tim Hoffman shows of the hardware from winning the 2012 Buffalo Grove BBQ Challenge at the BG Days Festival. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:13PM
BUFFALO GROVE — Tim Hoffman has been keeping one of the best secrets in Buffalo Grove for years.
See what happens when one tries to coax him into revealing just a little of his family’s three-generation-old barbecue sauce recipe.
“I can’t really do that,” Hoffman replied. “I apologize about that.”
Hoffman said the sauce goes great on ribs, pulled pork, just about anything — and during the Buffalo Grove Days barbecue cook-off, the judges agreed.
Hoffman and his cooking partner, his dad Steve, won the poultry category, then beat out the champions of the other four divisions to keep the “best of show” honor in Hoffman’s Buffalo Grove home for the second year in a row.
“We’ve developed it to where it’s at now,” Tim said of his recipes. “It’s done well for us.”
Team Hoffman won with a chicken wing that Hoffman said they have prepared many times before. They also created entries in the burger and ribs categories. At the 2011 Buffalo Grove Days, Hoffman competed with his uncle, Ron Hoffman, and shared the best of show title with him.
Alan Danenberg, publicity chairman for Buffalo Grove Days, said the Hoffman style was the most impressive for a group of tasters that judged the entries on a wide variety of criteria.
“There was a detailed, complex scoring system with several criteria and a half dozen judges,” Danenberg said.
One of those aspects, Hoffman said, was the teamwork and camaraderie among the cooks and their support staff, which was plentiful with The Backyard Guys, his 15-member, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing posse.
We’re just a bunch of guys who are in the backyard barbecuing, mostly for fun,” Hoffman said. “This whole victory is a family victory.”
The secret sauce comes down from Hoffman’s grandfather, who perfected it in his Winnetka backyard. Barbecue has long been quick and economical, Hoffman said, and Grandpa Hoffman developed a style that stood out from the beginning.
Hoffman said that when he was young, the recipe got him salivating, too.
“I grew up with it,” he said. “It’s a hobby of mine.”
The sauce has evolved through the generations, Hoffman added. Whatever they put it in these days, it has become sweeter than the original, adapting to trends in the barbecue world. He thanked his family for shouldering the burden of near-daily taste tests in the weeks leading up to Buffalo Grove Days as Team Hoffman sought the perfect mix.
“The flavor profile’s changed a little bit,” he said. “They bore with us while we made them eat barbecue seven days a week.”
The recipe led to restaurant ownership three Hoffman brothers in the early 1980s, called Hoffmans’ Smokehouse on Skokie Boulevard in Northbrook. Hoffman said that while he believes in the family sauce, he had no plans of taking it back into the food-service industry.
“It’s something that we’ve talked about, but I don’t see it happening in the near future,” he said. “It’s a risky endeavor.”
But there is no end in sight to the family secret. His eight-year-old daughter, Jaden, now enjoys cooking with her dad. And sampling his work.
“She loves the wings, she eats them up.”