‘Phone was like a grenade’ after ‘BBQ Brawl’ win was announced, Erica Roby told us

Roby has also won a deal for a digital series on Food Network

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

“Dayton, Ohio is on the map!” declared Erica Roby as she raised a toast to her fellow “BBQ Brawl” competitors immediately after she was named Master of ‘Cue.

The season 2 finale of Food Network’s “BBQ Brawl” aired Monday, Aug. 9 with an all-day, “super-sized” barbecue competition. Three contestants remained, and in the end, the judges decided Roby’s food was supreme.

Roby watched the finale Monday night with her family at home in Yellow Springs, trying to keep her excitement hidden until the winner was announced. To not spoil the surprise, Roby said she was up, walking around the house doing unnecessary tasks throughout the episode, as to not let her family read the emotions on her face.

After Roby was announced as the Master of ‘Cue, however, the outpour of support from the community was overwhelming. She knew people in the area were invested, but she had no idea “it was going to translate into people actually being invested in (her) and being invested in Dayton.”

“My phone was like a grenade,” Roby said. “It didn’t stop buzzing, ringing, beeping. … This is why I love, Ohio, like right here. These people are, they’re actually there with me. And I was just I was so grateful and there were so many women (reaching out) and I was so happy about that.”

“The thing that impresses me most about Erica is she doesn’t get nervous,” said Bobby Flay, Food Network chef and Roby’s mentor on the show. “She knows who she is. She cooks within herself and it really prevailed.”

Now crowned champion, Roby has also won a a deal for a digital series on Food Network. Roby said filming for her digital series took place — discreetly, because her placing was still a secret — on location, at her home in Yellow Springs. Her show will air on Food Network’s website in the near future.

“Little Erica Blaire Roby, who was in in her mom and dad’s basement in Dayton, Ohio during quarantine, wearing ratty socks and a torn T-shirt, is now saying like, ‘Oh you know, Bobby Flay is my friend. That’s crazy,” Roby said.

Coming off of the huge victory, Roby plans to open her Dayton food truck named “Blue Smoke Blaire Roadside sometime during the last week of August. The barbecue truck, to be co-owned with her father, was supposed to open right before the pandemic, but was pushed back due to COVID-19 followed by the Food Network competition.



Once opened, Roby said the food truck will be located on the side of the road on East Third Street in Dayton. Customers can expect to find many of the signature dishes that Roby showcased throughout the series on the food truck’s regular menu.

Though the season premiered on June 14, the show’s filming wrapped-up in one taping last winter. Roby has had to keep the big news a secret from even her closest family and friends until now.

“It’s easy because I just like seeing raw emotion from people,” Roby said after surviving Week 6. “My friends have a bet on when I get kicked off, what’s going to happen to me. I’m like laughing and I like that, too. So, it’s just really fun. It’s fun to watch the process.”

About two years ago, Roby began participating in barbecue competitions under the name “Blue Smoke Blaire” and putting her progress on Instagram. Not long after starting her journey, she received a message about “applying for an unspecified show that was about barbecue,” which she thought was a spam message on first glance. After consulting some barbecue peers on social media, she was told the people contacting her were legit and she should definitely write back.

“Me and my husband were running to find the best ingredients in the area and make all these dishes,” Roby said. “And then I didn’t hear anything for a year. So, I was like, ‘OK. Well, at least that was fun.’”

After a year of no communication, Roby received a call in November 2020 that would set in motion the road to her traveling to Austin, Texas to start filming at Star Hill Ranch.

“I just feel like there’s this wave of strength now, and there’s a spotlight now for Dayton, Ohio,” Roby said. “People are gonna, you know, take a chance on us and really look at what we’re doing in the culinary arena now and start taking us seriously. I’m just, I’m happy to be a part of that wave.”

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