Teacher turns passion in barbecue to profit


Carter Diggs

Many teachers tend to spend their weekends relaxing at home or grading test papers. 

Oxford High English teacher Brad Hayden has different plans.

Every Saturday at the Farmer’s Market local grocery store on County Road 101, a tent pitched outside can be seen bearing the words “The Smoke Shop.”  Upon drawing near, one can see the variety of options showcasing Hayden’s style and passion: barbecue.

Hayden has been enthusiastic in his hobby of cooking barbecue for years.  Around three months ago, Hayden started the Smoke Shop after a suggestion from his wife, Meg Hayden, the Oxford School District’s head nurse.

“It was something I was already doing on the weekends for friends and family,” said the English teacher by weekday.  “My wife, Nurse Hayden, suggested that I invest in a larger cooker for the meat and start this.”

With a large cooker and large quantities of meat to prepare, an equally large amount of effort is to be put in from Hayden.  The process of cooking everything to perfection takes hours upon hours and starts on each Wednesday.

After making sure he has enough supplies to properly season everything and provide sauce, he transports all of the meat for the week to a personal kitchen and seals it away until Friday.

When Friday comes around, a second session of checks is completed and Hayden gets to work on preparing his stock.  Using a personal kitchen, he cooks exclusively with wood. 

He checks on the meat around once every 20 minutes, adjusting the heat accordingly.

The strong effort that he puts into his craft show in the words of his customers. Reception to his barbecue has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I try and make it out there every Saturday,” said OHS junior Colton Skidmore.  “The taste is different … and he sells stuff you can’t normally get at other places.  It has a nice, home-cooked taste to it.”

Setting him apart from some of the chain stores is the fact that Hayden tends to get his ingredients from local markets.  All of his meats come from local farmers.  He does this to help another local in the food industry.

In the end, while it does net him profit, he says that he does this primarily for the enjoyment of putting his skills to use.

“It’s a labor of love,” Hayden noted. “It’s a personal idea first, and then a decent idea for a business as well.”