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Wheaton pit master takes show on the road
By Deborah Pankey | Daily Herald Staff

Matt Whiteford of Wheaton makes pork barbecue on Sundays for guests at The Abbey Resort in Fontana, Wis.


Courtesy of The Abbey Resort

Matt Whiteford hopes to launch his line of glaze, rubs and sauces later this summer. Order at


Courtesy of Matt Whiteford

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Published: 6/25/2009 12:00 AM

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Burnin' Down the Docks

Celebrate blues, brews and barbecue noon to 4 p.m. Sundays throughout the summer. Enjoy live entertainment, $2 Leinies and $2 pulled pork sandwiches.

Where: The Abbey Resort and Spa, 269 Fontana Blvd., Fontana, Wis.

Information: (888) 629-9594 or

During the week, Matt Whiteford of Wheaton wears a few hats: furniture rep, landscaper, homebuilder, Persian rug purveyor. On the weekends, he trades those hats for an apron and heads toward Lake Geneva Wis., where he's the barbecue master at The Abbey Resort.

"Barbecue, up until this recent venture at The Abbey, has been just a hobby," says Whiteford, a 45-year-old father of three. "I'm not one to go out golfing with the guys. I like to cook during the day and have people over at night. The more I did it (barbecued), the more I liked it; the more I liked it, the more I did it."

Four years ago Whiteford stepped into the barbecue competition arena and has earned some trophies on the Kansas City Barbecue Society circuit.

"I do more ribs, pork shoulder and chicken," he says. "Pork is easy to do in bulk and you can feed a lot of people."

He was feeding a lot of people back in February when Cary Kerger, the father of one of his son's friends, stopped in.

Kerger is the management member for the Abbey Provident Ventures, the resort's ownership/management group.

"I immediately knew his product would be outstanding for what we were trying to accomplish at The Waterfront Restaurant at The Abbey," Kerger said.

After working with the restaurant staff for a few months, Whiteford's barbecue sauces and rubs are now used at the restaurant where guests can try them any day of the week. On summer Sundays, Whiteford heads to the resort for Burnin' Down the Docks, a music and food extravaganza where he mans a giant smoker and mingles with guests.

Whiteford says he knew his next business venture would involve barbecue - his line of sauces and rubs will be available soon at his site, - but he didn't think it would happen like this.

"This is the coolest thing I could imagine," Whiteford says.

Barbecue tips

Creating layers of flavor is the key to darn good 'cue, according to Wheaton's Matt Whiteford, pit master at The Abbey Resort on Lake Geneva. Here are his steps:

Rub meat with a mixture of herbs and spices.

Marinade or inject to infuse flavor and improve texture.

Glaze to create caramelized crust and seal in flavors.

Finish with a coat of sauce during final 15 minutes of cooking.

Learn more about his process and his sauces at