SIOUX CITY | Neither snow nor rain nor heat will keep Chad Peterson from grilling championship-ready ribs, steaks and chicken.
"The cold doesn't bother me one bit," the W.A. Klinger heavy machinery operator said, manning his grill in early January. "If I could grill 365 days out of the year, I would."
To be honest, Peterson is getting close in his desire of becoming a year-round griller.
"I've done Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner on my grill," he said. "Even if I have to shovel a path to my grill, I'll do it."
In fact, Peterson comes from a family of grillers.
"My dad is a griller and I guess I inherited the grilling gene," he said with a smile. "It's probably been in the past 10 years that I started taking it seriously."
As a member of Mad Chad's BBQ, Peterson has entered competitions in Sioux City as well as Jackson, Nebraska, Vermillion, South Dakota and Hawarden, Iowa.
Even though he has had his share of victories, Peterson said it's more rewarding to be a part of the barbecue community.
"I learn so much from these competitions," he noted. "While we're competitors, we're also friends with a similar interest."
And that similar interest involves massive amounts of meat.
"Becoming a griller is all about control," Peterson said. "It's all about controlling the heat and creating the perfect sear."
He does this by using pear tree wood on a charcoal grill.
"While apple and mulberry wood also produces a sweet, mild heat," Peterson said, "my preferred wood has always been pear tree wood."
Plus he prefers to grill his steaks with a simple dusting of salt and pepper.
"When you're grilling a good-quality steak, you want to be able to taste the meat," Peterson advised. "If you slather on barbecue sauce, that's all you'll taste."
However, he doesn't harbor trepidation in covering pineapple slices with a mix of cinnamon, rum and sugar.
"I love getting great grill marks on the pineapple," Peterson said. "A large part of grilling is making food visually appealing."
But if you ask Peterson's 12-year-old stepson David Collins, the best part of grilling is the smell.
"You can't beat the smell of charcoal," David said. "It smells really good in the wintertime."
David said he likes assisting Peterson at various barbecue competitions.
"I enjoys them because everyone is so competitive," he said.
However, Peterson is convinced that David is just in it for the perks.
"I think you love eating more than you do cooking," Peterson said with a smile.
Over the years, Peterson said he has grilled everything from fruits, veggies and seafood to desserts.
"Everything tastes good when if comes off a grill," he said.
OK, so what's the most unusual food Peterson has ever grilled?
"I've cooked for a few vegetarians and have experimented with grilled tofu," Peterson recalled.
And how did that turn out?
"Actually, it wasn't bad at all," Peterson said. "Not bad at all."