Ann and Brian Neale are a dynamic duo with two passions: Winning at competition BBQ with our team Smoke Freaks, and helping our customers win through the work we do at our business consulting firm, The Neale Group.
We got hooked on competition BBQ in 2014, when we entered an amateur competition right down the street from our Chicago home base. With a couple of beat-up WSMs and very little BBQ experience, we didn’t expect much more that day than a lesson. But we nailed our cook on a day when the weather wreaked havoc on the whole field, and we ended up Rib Champions. Smoke Freaks were born that day, and we were hungry.
We spent 2015 organizing our lives and honing our skills to start secondary careers as pro cooks on KCBS BBQ circuit. We launched our first full season in 2016, and have gone on to become one of the most exciting teams on the circuit, inspiring hundreds of fans and fellow competitors to “Taste the Freakage.”
Brian is Co-Founder and Pitmaster for Smoke Freaks. He's also founder of the Chicagoland BBQ Society Facebook group and a KCBS Certified BBQ Judge. He recently served as Competition Director for the Windy City BBQ Classic, drawing 64 teams from across the Midwest.
When he's not smokin', Brian is Partner & Product Principal at The Neale Group LLC, a customer experience consulting firm.
Ann is Co-Founder and Pitmaster for Smoke Freaks. She's also a KCBS Certified BBQ Judge, an Operation BBQ Relief volunteer and administrator of the Chicagoland BBQ Society Facebook group.
Ann served as Event Director & KCBS/CBJ Director at the 2015 Windy City BBQ Classic.
Ann is also Partner & Marketing Principal at The Neale Group LLC, a customer experience consulting firm.