Blue Suede BBQ: Serving Flavor and Community

Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, but it’s also a time to honor the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our country. As we close National Military Appreciation Month, we spotlight a military member serving our nation and barbecue fans through his venture, Blue Suede BBQ.

Meet Chris Loschiavo, founder and operator of Blue Suede BBQ, a Lieutenant Colonel and Division Engineer for the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Fort Liberty in Fayetteville, NC. Listen to the Blue Suede BBQ episode of Low & Slow Barbecue Show for the complete story.

Keep reading to learn about his Blue Suede BBQ rubs and sauces and how his venture follows a life-long path of service. Don’t miss the recipe for Blue Suede BBQ’s “Blind Tiger” Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce.

Low & Slow Barbecue Show Host Chigger Willard interviews Blue Suede BBQ Founder Chris Loschiavo, who created a barbecue sauce based on his favorite tequila.
Chigger Willard interview Blue Suede BBQ Founder Chris Loschiavo who built his “Blind Tiger” Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce around a favorite tequila from Cape Fear Distillery, TeqCafe.

What is Blue Suede BBQ?

Blue Suede BBQ is a family and friends-driven business started by Chris Loschiavo in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s a great time to start a side business,” Chris jokes, “ and I did it to be my future career when I retired from the Army. I plan to begin my career transition into retirement this fall, with my retirement being next summer (2025).”

A native of Memphis, TN, Chris named his business in honor of one of the city’s most famous residents, Elvis Presley, and the first track of his 1956 debut album.

“I’ve always loved barbecue, and I began dabbling with making my own sauce around 2010 after my second Afghanistan deployment. That just kind of progressed over the years …,” he explains. “Every time I go home to Memphis to visit family, they know the first place we’re going to go eat is The Rendezvous in downtown Memphis, and so it was just kind of a natural thing.”

As Chris fine-tuned his culinary skills, he developed a sauce that became popular with friends. Initially, the barbecue venture was just for fun. However, by 2020, the persistence of friend, fellow service member, and entrepreneur Dr. Erin Helle finally persuaded him to make the move.

“She was like, ‘Hey, you need to start this online, and I’m actually gonna bug you until you do.’ So, it just happened,” Chris says. “What can go wrong?”

Blue Suede BBQ Product Line

Blue Suede BBQ offers a line of products online at Current products include:

  • Original Memphis “901” BBQ Sauce.
  • Tennessee Whiskey Small Batch BBQ Sauce.
  • “Blind Tiger Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce.
  • East Carolina Vinegar Sauce – coming soon!
  • Original Memphis dry rub.
  • Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt.

Catering is part of the Blue Suede BBQ business, too. Chris recently added the option to his website to streamline requests and orders. He’s supported private events and provided barbecue to restaurants in the Fayetteville region, like Ironwood in Pinehurst. Future catering opportunities exist at High Octane in Aberdeen, and there’s potential for brick-and-mortar ventures.

Meanwhile, Blue Suede BBQ participates in events around the Carolinas, including the Carolina BBQ Fest and Goat Fest 2024. There, Chris and his smoked pork butts won the Goat Fest People’s Choice Award.

“I’m using the catering and the competitions to, one, further my outreach to the community, but also continue to hone my skills and get feedback from people that aren’t family and friends,” Chris says.

Making Blue Suede BBQ Rubs and Sauces

Blue Suede BBQ dry rub and "901" sauce.
A Memphis BBQ delivery to Hickory featured Blue Suede BBQ’s dry rub and “901” Sauce.

Before catering and competitions, Christ started producing Blue Suede BBQ rubs. The first followed the flavor profile of The Rendezvous dry rub. From there, experiments followed with bourbon-smoked sea salt.

Sauce production soon followed.

“I said, ‘OK, I need to figure out how to make my own sauce because I’m tired of paying for other people’s stuff when I think I can do it better or do good enough,’” he explains. “I experimented with a traditional Memphis recipe and had to just expand the product line from there.”

All Blue Suede BBQ products are a “labor of love” prepared in his kitchen, 100% “by hand,” using a process that involves a lot of trial and error. Sometimes, he starts with recipes from trusted chefs he follows – and then modifies them.

“I really start with the flavor profile that I’m looking for,” he says. “I feel like I’m able to pick up on flavors and combine flavors and seasonings and spices to get kind of what I’m looking for.”

What’s in a Blue Suede BBQ name?

Like the Blue Suede BBQ name, Chris takes pride in naming his products with meaningful connections. For example, the “901” sauce is named after the Memphis telephone area code. The “Blind Tiger” Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce was inspired by the historic speakeasies during prohibition in Charleston, SC.

“I spend a lot of time thinking about and being deliberate about the name of it, the look of the design,” he says.

Chris produces all label designs himself and bottles everything in-house. While confident in his flavors, he tests the creations on family and friends to get their take.

“And then I just like to tie it to something that I think is important,” he continues, “because then that speaks to more than just what’s in the bottle.”

Blue Suede BBQ’s Story of Service

As a college sophomore Blue Suede BBQ founder Chris Loschiavo was on track to be a landscape architect. Then, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States happened in 2001. Coming from a long line of service, Chris recognized the 9/11 attacks as his call to duty. After starting a path with the U.S. Marine Corps, he transitioned to the U.S. Army “because I just wanted to serve and do my part.”

“I commissioned as a second lieutenant in 2005, and I will retire presumably in 2025 after 20 years,” he says.

That service has included deployments to war zones in Afghanistan, other global locations in Germany and Korea, and duty stations around the United States.

“I believe that God has given my family and me a purpose and given all of us a purpose,” he says during our conversation. “I think that the more that we’ve been blessed with, the more we’re responsible to give back. We’ve just got to figure out what that means for each of us.

“For me, it’s serving others and assisting those who need help,” he continues. “You can tie that, obviously, to my military career, but for me, it goes beyond that.”

As a result, proceeds from Blue Suede BBQ and Chris’ investment of personal time and resources go toward three organizations with which he has a close personal connection.

Phi Delta Theta Foundation

Phi Delta Theta Foundation is the non-profit arm of the Phi Delta Theta national fraternity. Chris has been a member of Phi Delta Theta since he was a college freshman. He supports its mission to develop young men into impactful leaders through leadership education and philanthropy.

“I know people have a stereotype about fraternities, and sometimes that stereotype is well-deserved,” he says. “But our organization is truly focused on something different. The foundation exists to strengthen men for life by building on a tradition of the core values, which are friendship, sound learning, and rectitude, which is doing what is morally right.”

His involvement includes financial contributions, volunteer work, and serving as a faculty member for their leadership conference.

Little Groups of Paratroopers

Little Groups of Paratroopers aims to strengthen the Airborne community. With partnerships from companies like Traeger and Kimber Firearms, they aim to be a conduit for veterans to access resources and events.

“We’re committed to strengthening the Airborne community and making an impact on the lives of those who need it most,” he says. “There are a thousand and one organizations and people doing things for veterans, but it’s really hard to know where to find that information. We want to be that conduit for folks to help provide world-class events, unite the Airborne community, and fundraise and support our local communities so that we can provide grants and other opportunities to paratroopers, their families, and their kids.”

A paratrooper himself, Chris is the organization’s national board president.

Live Like Lou Foundation

The Live Like Lou Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to supporting families affected by ALS and funding research for treatments and cures. With personal ties to Lou Gehrig, a fellow Phi Delta Theta fraternity member and childhood baseball hero, Chris’s commitment to this cause is deepened by losing his fraternity “big brother” Ralph Doxey to ALS.

“They are a truly incredible band of people doing amazing things for those affected by this horrible and currently 100% fatal disease,” Chris says of the Live Like Lou Foundation. “The other piece to that for me is being an active duty soldier, I’ve learned the research community consistently shows that military service members are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with ALS than those who never served. The problem is, we don’t know why.”

“Blind Tiger” Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce

Blue Suede BBQ’s “Blind Tiger” Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce embodies the essence of South Carolina’s mustard-based sauces with a unique twist. Inspired by Charleston’s prohibition-era Blind Tiger speakeasies and a local espresso tequila, this sauce has quickly become a favorite.


  • 2 c. Yellow Mustard
  • 1/4 c. Spicy Brown or Stone Ground Mustard
  • 1/2 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 c. Honey
  • 1/2 c. Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tsp. Granulated Garlic
  • 2 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1.5 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke (Hickory)
  • 1/2 c. Cape Fear Distillery TeqCafe espresso tequila
  • 2 tbls. Adobo Sauce
  • 1 tbls. Gochujang (Korean red chili paste)


Combine all ingredients in a large pot or saucepan over medium or medium-low heat. Stir to combine until silky smooth. When bubbles begin to rise to the top, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Adjust to taste.

Where to Find Blue Suede BBQ

For those eager to try Blue Suede BBQ products, they are available on the company’s website. You can also follow the business on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for event dates and barbecue tips.

For Chris Loschiavo, Blue Suede BBQ is more than just a business; it’s a testament to his dedication to service, community, and exceptional barbecue. As he transitions from military service to full-time pitmaster, Chris continues to make a difference, one delicious bite at a time.

To support his journey and taste the passion in his products, visit and join the Blue Suede BBQ community.

By weaving together Chris’s military service, his passion for barbecue, and his commitment to philanthropy, Blue Suede BBQ stands out as a brand with heart.

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