Meet the First Family of Mississippi Barbecue, the Orrisons. Their wildly popular barbecue joint’s earned them fame, fortune, devoted fans and a lot of big toys. But no matter how big their business grows, the boisterous, fun-loving clan insists on running the business as a family. Add in all the colorful employees and regulars and it’s obvious: This down-home joint is a real-life sitcom.
The members of the Orrison family are not normal. Most people probably don’t realize that “BBQ” has a culture. It’s a culture of kindness, friendship, generosity. It’s a culture where everyone is family.
When it comes to the BBQ culture The Orrisons are definitely not normal. And that’s a good thing because they take that culture of kindness, friendship and generosity to a completely new level. In their world everyone really is family.
“We always reach out to people and people reach out to us,” she told me during a recently conversation about their new TV show, The Shed. “What I’m looking forward to is the people who don’t know us will see the show and how it’s all put together and they’;; see us for what we are.” she continued.
“If the show is a success, it’s for exactly that reason,” Mama Shed explained about presenting The Shed and their love of people on television. “I think it’s going to go over really well. We’ll translate that love to the viewers. We want to show what the real soul of the BBQ world is all about.” If you’re always looking out for others before yourself you’re on the right track.”
When I asked Linda to explain who they were she continued her theme of taking care of others, “I would have to say we are people who put others first. We’ve done that in our business and we do it in our everyday lives. And that’s what has gotten us where we are today.”
“I guess all the stars seemed to just line up for us,” Linda said
And where they are is a brand new reality television series that debuts on The Food Network at with a sneak peek on Sunday, August 4th. But exactly how did a crazy group of business owners, employees and customers, know as Shed Heds, get on television?
Mama Shed explained how it all came about, “For 12 years these crazy, outside the box things just keep happening to us. We always said, where are the cameras when you need them. Over the years we’ve had several production companies interested, but we finally found one that wanted to do what we wanted to do. And the dream came true when the Food Network was interested so we said yes.”
I asked Linda what it was like to suddenly be surrounded by cameras all the time and she gave me a surprising response, “We absolutely adore it. It’s something we’ve wanted for a long time, but we wanted it on our terms. We want to show us for what we and for what we are not,” she said. “We finally got the magic combination that would allow us to be ourselves. So we are thrilled.”
“I believe the people who don’t know us will be introduced to not only the family but the characters we bring into the family with open arms,” Mama Shed told me when asked about the crazy people who work at The Shed along with some crazy customers, known as Shed Heds.
“I’m sure viewers will doubt whether we really hired these people or that they really are Shed Heds, but viewers are going to see our extended family. I think they will wonder if these people are real but when they come to The Shed they are going to find out that Coal Miner really is the dishwasher.”
The love and sense of family centered around The Shed in Ocean Springs, Mississippi isn’t a one way street. Eighteen months ago the BBQ community let The Shed know exactly what they meant to them after a fire destroyed the original Shed restaurant one evening. The Shed family got a taste of their own medicine when the fans of The Shed helped rebuild.
“It literally was the most humbling experience our family has ever had,” she said, choking back a few tears. “We put others first and then we were down in the ditch, and everyday one of us hit rock bottom, someone would come along and pick us up. The worst part as we lost so many people’s memorabilia that was in the original Shed. The building could be rebuilt but thousands of people had given us license plates, signed one dollar bills or even their baby’s first shoes and to lose that was really what upset us the most,” she continued. “We were entrusted with those things and they burnt up. And then when people started bringing things back it was unbelievable and that’s what gave us the strength to open back up in five days.”
Tune in to the Food Network to learn all about the Orrisons and their crazy bunch of employees and customers.
The Shed premiers Monday, August 5th on the Food Network with a sneak preview on Sunday, August 4th.