Bob Trudnak, a 1989 Abington Heights High School graduate originally from Chinchilla, has found continued success in a career he never imagined for himself: barbecue.
“I’ve had an interest in cooking my whole life, especially as a kid. I didn’t think I knew I was heading in this direction, but it’s pretty amazing. I love it more than anything,” said Trudnak.
Trudnak got his start in the business of barbecue in 1999 when he worked in marketing for an inventor from Texas, Fred Pirkle, who past away two years ago. “(He) knew what real barbecue was,” said Trudnak, referring to Pirkle’s Texas roots. Pirkle used this knowledge to create and sell barbecue equipment.
BBQ Guru, the name of the equipment company, sold their items at a variety of shows. Trudnak began to use the equipment to barbecue with his own recipes and won awards for his dishes at barbecue and food competitions all over the state.
“Entering the competitions lets the customers know it’s a lifestyle and we’re successful doing it with the products and services available to them,” Trudnak said. “We’re on the road every other weekend from April to October.”
In addition to all the travelling and competitions in the spring, summer and fall months, Trudnak and his wife Tammy run their own catering service called Bob’s Hav’n a BBQ which is mostly booked for graduation parties and other warm month celebrations.
“Ribs are our best-selling catering item,” said Trudnak, “But beef brisket is my favorite. It’s the toughest meat to cook, and it’s not found in restaurants a lot, whereas ribs and other barbecue items are. There’s just nothing like it.” Both of these items can be found on the menu of his catering website, www.havenabbq.com.
In recent competition, Trunak came in first for pork ribs at the World Food Championship in Las Vegas after qualifying in Salisbury, MD. Now, he is manufacturing his winning commercial barbecue sauce to sell online, locally, and at events. With all the success Trudnak is having, he’s hoping to expand his business. The market for the sauce might even include NEPA and his hometown area someday. Because of the equipment needed to barbecue and cater events, Trudnak hasn’t brought his business up to the NEPA area yet, but the sauce might be a way for him to connect with NEPA again.
Trudnak doesn’t plan on leaving the world of barbecue any time soon. He’s fully embraced the lifestyle and is very happy where his passions have taken him in his career.
“I’m thrilled to be in this position,” he said.
“I love what I do. I love the challenge. Teaching people techniques and how to use the equipment and watching their smiles while they’re learning is very rewarding.”
A full list of Trudnak’s barbecue awards can be found on his catering website, www.havenabbq.com.