Frank Blankenship, master griller in the Swannanoa Valley, is shown with one of his many custom made grills.
is a master of the grill in the Swannanoa Valley.
"I've learned to cook by just doing it," he
said."Mama let us cook when we were growing up.If you made a mess out of things, you didn't have to eat it, but you better not mess it up the second time."
Grilling and barbecuing is a hobby for Blankenship
.A visit to the pavilion nestled into the bank of the Swannanoa River at Riparin Way is a treat.Usually there is something cooking or about to be cooked with Blankenship
offering an almost non-stop dialogue about what he
is doing, or about to do. Blankenship is the owner of at least six custom made grills, from charcoal to gas.
Some sit on rollers, another is a large commercial type grill that is towed behind a truck, while others have their special spots in the pavilion waiting to be pressed into service during one of Blankenship's
latest cooking extravaganza was during the Valley Ace Hardware Store grand opening in Swannanoa.
admits to tomato and vinegar based barbecue sauces that he
has refined over the years.He
uses them frequently.
"These I have perfected to my own taste," he
said."I did write down all the ingredients in them, but I've never written down how much of what ingredients to use, and when to add them.I just do it." Blankenship
says the key to cooking effectively on any grill lies in preheating the grill.
"It is important to cook pork and chicken slow," he
said."I use a lot of Canada Steak Seasoning with pork and chicken, and I usually add a dash or two of it to scrambled eggs, and I've not had any complaints yet.When I grill chicken, I marinate it for 45 minutes using Dales sauce.You can buy it right off the grocery shelf.I set the sauce on the grill in an aluminum pan and let it get hot, and sometimes it starts to boil." Blankenship
does not own a thermometer, and doesn't use tongs.
"I don't have good luck with tongs," he
grills a lot of turkeys every year.
"I have a grill that will cook 32 of them, weighing about 12 pounds, at a time," he
is proud of the trophy he
won in Hominy Valley last year.
"I won first place in the chili cookoff," he
said."I went right on their turf and beat them fair and square."He
grills vegetables from corn on the cob to onions, and says the onions are probably the best vegetable he
" I clean and quarter them and squeeze butter over them, and add salt and pepper," he