Billy Ruiz is a local Santa Maria Style Barbecue legend and co-proprietor of Cowboy Flavor with his wife, Sue. Cowboy Flavor specializes in barbecue foods, gifts, attire and cookbooks, and is also a leading local caterer. Billy is also the “cover model” for the complimentary Santa Maria Style Barbecue booklet and the host of the popular Cowboy Flavor television show on RFD-TV. We recently caught up with Billy to get the inside scoop on his adventures.
Can you briefly tell us about your roots in the valley, and how you became a barbecue master?
I was born and raised in Santa Maria as an 8th generation Californian. I don’t know about “master,” but I was raised around Santa Maria Style Barbecue and was lucky enough to watch and help some of the old timers around the pit. I learned alot from those masters, including my dad, uncle Clarence Minetti, Beagle Knotts and Dede Moore, just to name a few.
What is the vision or mission behind Cowboy Flavor?
Our mission is to give our clients and viewers the chance to watch, smell and enjoy eating great outdoor cooking. We want to keep Santa Maria Style Barbecue alive and share it everywhere we go. Also: to have friends and loved ones gathered around the fire before, during and after the meal.
Why do you think that Santa Maria Style Barbecue is still growing in popularity after all these years?
Just taste it! It is truly the original style of cooking meat over the open fire. You need only fove things…the pit, oak wood, meat, seasoning and family and friends.