Dwayne “Big Daddy” Thompson is already a household name in the Birmingham and New Orleans areas for his Big Daddy Bomb BBQ Sauce and creative dishes. The talented entrepreneur has taken things to a global level with his appearance on Hulu’s ‘Best In Dough’ series. The Magic City chef made his appearance on Episode 3 of the pizza-centric show, and Big Daddy’s big personality and bold flavor choices instantly stood out. We won’t spoil the outcome ahead of the official Birmingham area watch party this Wednesday night starting at 6pm at Blue’s Bourbon & Brews in Pelham, but it’s safe to say that Thompson is a star on the rise in the culinary and entertainment worlds.
Big Daddy has been in business for 7 years now, but the path to flavor CEO took some time to travel. “The actual journey to Birmingham started with Hurricane Katrina. I’m from New Orleans originally, so I came up in ‘05 headed into ‘06, and was really just working and doing some things. I was in a financial state where I figured I needed a second income, so I started cooking outside of clubs and stuff like that,” Thompson remembers, “I wasn’t really into the late night life anymore, I had done that for so many years. I was just saying ‘I really need something to do’ and eventually the Lord was like ‘I gave you everything you need’ and I didn’t understand for real. That same night a guy walked up to me and told me ‘You need to put this sauce in a bottle’. It was kind of late so I was like ‘Man, I hear what you’re saying but can you purchase this food and go about your business?’” Big Daddy brushed off the anointed suggestion, but when the same man returned the next week the light dawned that this was the next step forward that had always been in front of him.
Thompson looked into what all it would take to get his business to the next level, and soon found himself taking classes at Auburn to become a Certified Acidic Food Manufacturer in the state of Alabama. He opened in March of 2015 to much fanfare, and success has accelerated with each new year. Thompson is still available for private chef and catering events, and is found at Bizarre: The Coffee Bar on Tuesdays (Tacos and Tequila Night), Thursdays (Pasta), and Fridays (Chef’s choice). Things were going well, and then Hulu reached out to help Big Daddy make things even bigger.
“My dream has always been to be a personality with a product,” Thompson explains, “Coming from New Orleans you say chefs like Emeril Lagasse and different chefs on TV. You see as they grow they get these products and they’re doing these TV shows.” Big Daddy shared this with a few of his friends, so when one of them saw the Hulu application they knew who to call. The first part of the interview process was a Zoom interview, then a couple of weeks later Thompson met with some of the producers. The next call he received from the network was the good news he’d been hoping for - Big Daddy was making his national TV debut.
Episode 3 pits three barbeque masters against each other - in a pizza-making contest. While it may seem like a daunting task, Thompson was ready. “The thing was I wasn’t afraid of pizza because they’ve had several places around town that utilize my sauce on pizza.” Buck Creek Pizza used Big Daddy Sauce on their wings and chicken pizza, and the site of the Wednesday watch party currently uses the sauce on pizza as well.
The first challenge had the tough challenge of only using barbeque sides for pizza toppings, and Big Daddy leaned into his guaranteed hits. A major highlight of this pizza was Thompson’s original Southwest baked beans which are made with tomatoes, black beans, corn, sauce, and seasonings “that make it uniquely robust.” The second competition brought on meats that had been smoked by each chef, and Big Daddy surprised the judges by blending pork and salmon together - but he used his famous sauce to convince his critics and receive large amounts of praise from the audience jury.
Big Daddy wants to use the Hulu show as a springboard for the public-facing phase of his flavor dynasty - and hopes every experience is as good as his first. “It was an awesome, awesome experience from beginning to end. I can’t continue to say that enough and pat them on the back because you always hear horror stories of Hollywood and LA and stuff like that, but it was a really, really great experience for me.”
“Birmingham has a growing identity in the food industry. There are world-renowned chefs from Birmingham. There are people that are known globally and food and restaurants that are known globally. To be a part of that culture, that alliance, and that activity here in this city is a blessing to me, and an honor,” Thompson shares. And as for what Birminghamians can do to help their rising chefs thrive? “Continue to support the locals and support your own, you know what I’m saying? You have somebody here that I think represented Birmingham and the surrounding community well. And the only way for us to really go to that next level is for those that are out there in that world of streaming, broadcasting, and producing shows seeing that your local people support you.”
We can’t wait to continue to support this next-level local business at the Wednesday watch party and beyond. Congratulations chef!