Rashad Jones, owner of Big Lee’s Serious About Barbecue, has risen to local and national recognition for his determination, exceptional culinary talents and participation in the Food Network’s 6 part series, Eat, Sleep, BBQ. Although recognized as a ‘foodie celebrity’ for that role, Rashad does not consider the Food Network his defining moment. His focus is on building a quality business, based on integrity, in the Marion County region.
We recently sat down to chat with Rashad about his business, the importance of community, and his mindset mantra that guides him, “Live life full and die empty”!
Building Success in Life, and In Ocala
Originally from the northeast, Rashad moved to Florida as a child with his family, before moving to Gainesville to begin his professional career as a young adult. Prior to launching Big Lee’s in 2014, he worked within the food industry at Publix, and for eight years was Director and Lead Health Educator for the Marion County Health Department’s abstinence education program, called BRAZEN. He also launched Epic Youth Services, a consulting firm focused on youth motivational speaking, leadership programs, training workshops, community activism and outreach.
In 2014, Rashad began to pursue his next passion project in life when he discovered, during a family trip to the Mississippi Delta, his wife’s family tradition of cooking mouth watering BBQ. It was during that trip to see Patrice’s Uncle Leon that Rashad was introduced to the incredible taste of slow cooked brisket on the smoker.
Rashad came home to Ocala determined to reproduce the mouth watering BBQ served up by Uncle Leon, but his initial attempts fell flat. In Rashads own words, some of it was inedible! After months perfecting his culinary skills the backyard, and through the encouragement of his wife Patrice, Rashad entered a local BBQ contest (need name) and emerged victorious.
The result was the beginning of Big Lee’s Big Lee’s Serious About Barbecue, which they launched in 2014. A business that began as one food truck, has grown exponentially due to Marion County’s response to Rashad’s ‘joie de vie’ and the excellence of his mouth watering BBQ.
Live Life Full and Die Empty!
In 2017, Big Lee’s success kicked into the next gear, after Rashad pitched and earned a spot on the Food Network’s 6 part series, “Guy’s Big Project’, starring celebrity chef Guy Fieri. The Food Network’s Eat, Sleep, BBQ series casted Rashad to lead the series, thus catapulting him into another level of BBQ stardom. But his life has not always been so effortless.
At 18, he was temporarily homeless, but by 25 he had traveled to 15 countries and purchased his first home. Led by spiritual perseverance and resolve, Rashad’s infectious level of optimism and determination has guided him towards success. The expansion of his BBQ business and the riches he has found as a husband and dad of 4 boys, is certainly a reflection of a man guided by these principles.
In fact, during our time talking with Rashad, we leaned away from talking about his time on the Food Network, and focused on the blessings he has experienced in life. From working on Marion County’s youth initiatives, to founding his own business at Big Lee’s, his feeling of contentment comes from his impact on those around him. Rashad is a glowing example of how mindset can chart a positive path in life, and how Ocala’s supportive community has been the foundation for his business and family.
So what does Rashad mean by the phrase, “Live life full and die happy”?
We hope you’ll take a listen to hear how this principle has guided Rashad and his family through life.
Big Lee’s Next Big Announcement!
What began as a one location food truck business in 2014, has earned such success that visitors from around the country come to visit Big Lee’s BBQ at their 4 locations across the greater Marion County region; The Midtown location on NE 1st Ave, The Maricamp Road location, and 2 mobile units which move to different locations on a weekly basis. Their menu runs the gamut, featuring award winning pulled pork, burnt ends, chicken, sausage, pastrami and brisket – with all the fixings. Each week there are also variations on the menu, which are featured on their social media channels, so customers know what new BBQ delicacies to anticipate.
In addition to these locations, Big Lee’s has a thriving catering and event business, attending a variety of events such as sporting events at UF in Gainesville, fundraisers in the region, equestrian events and most recently the FAST grand opening in southwest Ocala!
The Team at Ocala Horse Properties truly appreciates the time that Rashad took to chat with us over an incredible plate of BBQ. If you haven’t experienced Big Lee’s Serious About BBQ, it’s time to get to one of their locations in Marion County!
Check them out on their website at www.mybigleesbbq.com, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram @mybigleesbbq and stay tuned for a top secret announcement from Rashad regarding some exciting news about the future of Big Lee’s!