Low & Slow Goes All Gas, No Brakes with Master Blend Family Farms

To get the best barbecue, you’ve got to take it low and slow. However, the work behind the barbecue and the business is the complete opposite. In fact, for Master Blend Family Farms’ Ronald Simmons, it is ALL GAS AND NO BRAKES 365.

Master Blend Family Farms Pitmaster Ronald Simmons and Chigger Willard.
Master Blend Family Farms Pitmaster and CEO Ronald Simmons, left, and Chigger Willard during the 2023 Carolina BBQ Festival.

That’s the motto of Master Blend Family Farms and its high-energy, hard-working CEO, pitmaster, and digital content creator. We first met Mr. All GAS NO BRAKES 365 during the 2023 Carolina Barbecue Festival. Ronald and his family farm have such a cool story that we invited him back for a deep dive into Master Blend Family Farms.

Listen to this episode of The Low & Slow Barbecue Show to learn more about the start of the business and Ronald’s thirst for knowledge shared by mentors from all walks of life. Ronald also shares how digital media has played a part in the success of Master Blend Nation!

Don’t miss the recipe and story behind his Master Blend Sausage Rolls. Ingredients and instructions are below, after a few more details about Master Blend Family Farms and Ronald Simmons.

Links you can use to purchase Master Blend Family Farms products are included below, too.

What is Master Blend Family Farms?

Established in 2012, Master Blend Family Farms is a third-generation family farm that specializes in pasture-raised show pig breeding stock and all-natural barbecue and market pigs.

“From whole hogs that can go on the grill all the way down to the packaged goods,” Ronald says. “We specialize in a variety of sausages. We render this awesome Hickory smoked bacon. A lot of people love it.”

Master Blend operates a mobile food truck and catering, a farm store selling pork and other N.C.-made products. The business distributes products across the Eastern U.S. to various venues, including restaurants, high-end boutique eateries, and professional sports stadiums.

About a dozen people are on staff with responsibilities varying from distributing products, working the packing plant, and even “having the bow tie and nice white shirts and aprons” when it is time to put on a formal catering service for any event.

The Master Blend Family Farms family.
Ronald Simmons and the Master Blend Family Farms family. Photo courtesy Master Blend’s Instagram.

“We have gotten to the point now that we have established a reputation and relationships with some of the high-end restaurants in North Carolina,” he continues, adding his regular customers include James Beard Best Chef and Outstanding Chef awards winner Ashley Christensen, who operates several restaurants in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Other regular customers include The Pit, Cast Iron Kitchen, and other businesses along the East Coast.

Sweet Lew down in Charlotte. I love that guy. He is amazing,” Ronald says. “And then even up to the people that have a reputation like Mr. Chris Prieto at Prime Barbecue in Knightdale.”

“I look at all of them now like they are mentors to me in the culinary world,” he says, “and being able to learn so much from them as they do what they do is super hot. Of course, we love rendering our contribution to all the ticket-holders at each of the festivals and events.”

Master Blend Barbecue Fueled by Ambition

Master Blend maintains a strong online presence that features a broad pork product catalog, the farm’s press and awards, and a spotlight on Ronald’s “Barbecue, Fueled by Ambition.”

“Everything starts with a dream,” Ronald says. “I believe anything a person desires to accomplish in life is possible if they put forth the right steps. So, if you stay around the right people and you are always listening instead of always talking, you can learn something from anybody and everybody.

“Understand, we are not promised tomorrow,” he continues, “so every day, you have an opportunity to wake up and be a better version of yourself than the day before.”

Visit the company’s website, and you’ll find highlights from Ronald’s experience as a 2021 Kingsford Preserve the Pit Fellow, North Carolina barbecue festival pitmaster, and tour guide for travel videos. Broadcast through the Master Blend Family Farms YouTube channel, these videos spotlight North Carolina-based farm and food operations in conjunction with the “Got to be N.C.” program through the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

“What we try to do is give everybody a little bit of the feel of what we’ve got going on from day to day,” he says. “And that pretty much keeps everybody intrigued not only with what we have going, but also where we are because they learn about new food locations, new farmers, and new restaurants all the time.

“If we can create this movement, and everybody jumps on this train, and we’re running wide open 365, all gas and no brakes, everybody is winning in this equation. That is what our movement is about.”

Shining a “Got to be NC” Spotlight on Farms and Food

Many of Ronald’s social media adventures include restaurant and farm visits as half of the “Dynamic Duo.” That started in 2015 when Ronald met Jack Nales, a marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. Jack helped Ronald make important business connections with North Carolina grocery chains that power his farm’s success.

“Jack is incredible when it comes to his knowledge and the other piece: he’s a veteran,” Ron says, offering respect and gratitude to the men and women who serve in the nation’s armed forces. “What they do, the sacrifices they make, that’s amazing. It’s a special person to that. And Jack is one of those people who did the same thing.”

Dynamic Duo of Jack Nales and Ronald Simmons enjoy food at Soo Cafe.
N.C. Department of Agriculture’s Dynamic Duo, “Superman” Jack Nales, right, and “Batman” Ronald Simmons, visit Soo Cafe in Raleigh. Photo courtesy Master Blend’s Instagram.

“When I started learning about Jack, I realized it didn’t bother him what culture you are from, he just wanted to hang out,” Ronald explains. “And he would expose you to so much knowledge if you are willing to take it in. I started hanging around Jack, and I started learning so much from this guy.”

A lunch invitation quickly led to the Dynamic Duo visiting North Carolina restaurants that purchase Master Blend products. And a rolling video camera helped build momentum and develop a strong following of folks who want to see where “Superman and Batman” stop next.

“Between us having the opportunity to work in the culinary scenes and then also going out to see the different farms that might not be getting noticed, we are exposing everybody to them and the great commodities they produce,” Ronald says, “and Jack is super passionate about that part of the industry, and seeing the small farmers and the family operations, and just seeing them flourish.”

Stops along the Dynamic Duo’s journey include Carolina Pitmasters featured on the Low & Slow Barbecue Show, like Keith Henning at Black Powder Smokehouse.

Visit the Master Blend Family Farms YouTube channel to see video highlights from across North Carolina:

Master Blend Sausage Rolls

The Master Blend sausage roll is a family-friendly recipe Ronald creates with his daughter in a video featured in Kubota Country Kids.

“Everybody that follows us on social media and YouTube, they see us everywhere all the time rocking it,” Ronald says. “And I felt like this recipe was one of those moments where I get to sit down with my kids. This recipe is something we could do together in the house to have fun.”

Watch the video for the step-by-step, how-to, or use the ingredients and instructions below to create this sausage delight. It makes a perfect anchor for breakfast, an appetizer for tailgate parties, or a side dish for holiday meals.

 Ingredients:

1 lb Master Blend Bulk Sausage

8 oz tub of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

2 rolls of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375. Brown sausage in skillet. Drain if necessary. Add a tub of cream cheese to the sausage. Stir until well blended. Remove the mixture from the pan and transfer it to a bowl. Open crescent rolls and cut each one in half. Spoon one teaspoon of mixture into the center of each crescent roll half. Fold over the crescent roll around the sausage. Space out evenly on a baking sheet or baking stone. Bake for 10-12 mins or until golden brown.
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