Andrew “Andy” Wiggins is the regional King of BBQ, champion of all things beer, and self-proclaimed film nerd. Andy is the busy owner of Knoth’s Bar-B-Que in Grand Rivers, a new father (if you don’t count his dog), and searching YouTube for his next project to obsess about. iMeet this family man who isn’t going to let anyone sully his good name.
Welcome to iMeet! First off, are you the same Andrew Wiggins who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves?
Though I am not him, I do get his emails and he kind of ruined some well-laid plans of mine. I started getting his emails right around the time he committed to Kansas. At first it was scholarship and tuition emails, then it turned in to offers from basketball camps and what not.
Once, after he was drafted, I got an email from a drug testing facility that sub-contracts work for the NBA. They informed me that I had been selected by the NBA for a randomized drug test and someone would be by my house around 2 pm that day. I wanted to let the guy know but apparently it's tough to get in touch with super rich famous people for some reason.
I am a pretty big Wildcats fan. I did my masters at the University of Kentucky (UK) and have lived in Lexington on two separate occasions. So, when this guy with MY NAME was looking like a lock to play for the Wildcats I was extremely excited. Imagine if your name were Jamal Mashburn or John Wall, how cool that would be for you? I was ready to go all in on this common element between fake Andrew Wiggins and myself, the real Andrew Wiggins. Then he chose Kansas. Yuck. I was devastated. I'm the real Andrew Wiggins. Like, the realest.
Tell us a little bit about you, what you do, where you're from, did you go to school for anything, etc.
I own Knoth’s Bar-B-Que with my wife Sally, our dear friends Ed and Meagan Musselman, and Hugh and Angela Knoth. Basically, I manage our business and often can be found cooking massive quantities of meat out back.
I grew up in Ballard County and left as soon as I could. I attended Murray State University where I earned a degree in Philosophy. And no, I don't regret it. It never translated into some high paying philosophy job (whatever that is), but I believe that education is its own reward.
After that, I earned a master’s degree in education from UK. I became a teacher for a couple of years - which wasn’t for me. It's such a noble vocation, but it takes a certain kind of person to balance the needs of the students with the demands of administration. I wasn't that person. However, I have a great deal of respect for teachers. That's a thankless, extremely difficult job. Seriously, pay them all of the money. They deserve it for what they do.
I know that you're married and just became a father, tell us about your family!
I am married to a lady who is all the way out of my league. Anyone who sees me with my wife probably immediately wonders how that happened. I don't have the answer to that question.
She is truly one of the most amazing people I've ever met and I am really lucky to get to share my life with her. I’m convinced she was like 46 months pregnant, but we crossed the finish line and our son Harvey was the coolest prize ever. Seriously, he deserves a trophy for being the most adorable little wrinkle ever.
Also, we have the cutest, sweetest American Bulldog named Ralph. If you've never met him I feel sorry for you. He is the bright light at the center of our universe. We love him more than I could even begin to say.
Knoth's was a business for 50 years, how did you end up getting roped into being the BBQ King of Grand Rivers?
Knoth's has been my favorite barbecue restaurant in the region for years. I'm a purist when it comes to barbecue. I like it cooked the old way - over hardwood coals in a mason pit. It's the way I grew up seeing it cooked in backyard pits in my childhood. So, when it came out that they were closing I was devastated.
I was the head brewer at Dry Ground Brewing at the time and knew that at some point I wanted to own my own business. I had been barbecuing for a year as a hobby at that time and I figured why not try and buy Knoth’s, and amazingly it worked.
Cooking the way we cook is really difficult. It's hard to learn and it's hard to do. However, so many skills that our ancestors perfected over generations are disappearing. It's easy to smoke a pork shoulder with propane or pellets. I've done it. And it produces a good product. But we have to have someone somewhere preserving our traditions.
I feel like it's been my honor to learn from one of Kentucky's truly great pit masters in Hugh Knoth. And now we have a new generation here cooking it the way it's been cooked for over 100 years in this area. That kind of preservation of skill is important to me.
We need to be curing hams and fermenting crocks of pickles. We need to be bugging our grandparents to learn these skills because the product quality produced is often only possible with these traditional processes. We take up that mantle daily for barbecue and that is really important to me.
What are some guilty pleasures of yours?
Oh man. Yacht rock. Ice cream. Any movie from the 80's. I feel like a good portion of my life is given over to indulging in guilty pleasures. In fact, I rarely experience guilt over them anymore. I guess I've pledged to like what I like, when I like it, and I’m okay with that.
For the past two years of Pa-BREW-cah you've been the champ of the Wagner beer tasting. What's your strategy for next year?
I got lucky this year to be honest. I had been very focused on my business and wasn't drinking much beer so, fortunately, they had one of my old standards queued up. The year before I was working in the industry and I was tasting beer every day.
Next year I plan to train for it. I have a strategy but I don't feel comfortable revealing it. At some point some whipper snapper is going to try and unseat the king so I have to keep any tricks or advantages I might use very secret. But as Omar says “when you come at the king, you best not miss".
Aside from guessing beer and making BBQ, do you have any special or hidden talents?
No. I'm really mediocre at everything. I can't focus on any one thing long enough to be able to file it under hidden talent. I'm a compulsive consumer of information. Something will strike my fancy and I will research it obsessively for a period of time until something comes along and takes its place.
I keep a weird schedule and at very odd hours I'm reading books or watching YouTube videos trying to pick up whatever obscure skill I'm obsessed with that that time. Often it's related to cooking but sometimes it's building things. I really have deep need for newness and the knowledge that comes with it.
We just had an offer accepted on a house we wanted to buy. It needs some serious updating so I'm currently obsessed with home renovations. I now know what a load bearing wall is and how you lace new hardwood into old hardwood when patching flooring. When the house is done I'll move on to some other obsession. I'm never bored.
You're locked in your house and have to watch one movie for 24-hours straight, what movie do you pick?
The Last Jedi. It's the most recent installment of the Skywalker saga. I'm a huge Star Wars fan and I've spent the past 30 years thinking about the movies that have been coming out during that time or were already out by then. So, thinking about it and picking it apart is a great pleasure for me. When you deal with fandom of expansive universes you have to tie all of these new loose pieces that a film presents to the pieces that are already in existence. Last Jedi is incredibly dense and picking it apart and tying it in to the existing canon is a real pleasure for me.
With that being said, I am a film junkie. I could easily watch 3 - 4 films a day every day and never tire of it. Film is one of my greatest passions. So ultimately, this question is pure torture for me because it's actually a long list of films that I would love to watch on repeat for 24 hours just to become a master of the narrative and visual style. Then I could think about it clearly and speak about it fluently. That's my idea of fun.