About Peoria Cookers

Peoria Cookers has its roots in the long time barbecuing interest of its founder, Bill Cusack and his search for the perfect BBQ grill/smoker.  When asked how a dentist becomes interested in making barbeque grills, he responded: “I would say my first interest in  grilling and smoking came from the need to cook large quantities of food for family reunions, weddings and so forth.  I came from a family of eleven children, and the demand for meat products at these gatherings was enormous.  Here in the Midwest , where pork is plentiful, having a pig roast seemed to make good sense, and was a tradition.  I made my first pig roaster in 1969 with the help of one of my high school classmates. This was a rotisserie made from an old oil tank utilizing a surplus electric motor and a gear reduction auger taken from a retired coal furnace. During my college and dental school years everything was made from whatever we had lying around, to purchase new steel or parts was not an option. My first open pit grill was made from a large square water tank used at a local gas station to check for tire leaks.  Although these cookers don’t compare to today’s models, they served a need at the time and are still a part of my nostalgic collection.” 

With regard to the design of his present day smokers, Bill acknowledges indebtedness to others from all parts of the United States and Europe.  In the seventies he took advantage of his brother Jerry’s frequent sales trip to Texas, and made arrangements to have a number of smokers brought up from the Southwest to use and study.  Since l998 Bill has made several trips to Germany and Austria to study techniques from the old country of smoking and curing meats, noting such differences as the use of salt as a preservative, and the use of small buildings as the smoking chamber.

When asked what changes he has seen during his 36 yrs of building grills and barbecuing, Bill responded:

“Not only has there been an improvement in things such as the metals, axles, and even paint, but the tools and equipment used to fabricate these cookers are much better.  We used to weld with stick welders and cut with acetylene torches, and now we use mig and tig welders and cut with plasma cutters.  Taking advantage of the latest technology makes this work more enjoyable and also results in a better final product.  In addition to the mechanical improvements, there has been a tremendous increase of public awareness resulting in the development impressive new techniques, spices and recipes”. 

Even though Bill spends a significant amount of time at his periodontal practice, he manages to go to the cooker facility each day and actively engages in the design and hands on fabrication of these units.  An accomplished welder himself, he is constantly inspecting the work of his crew of full time welders. Having completed the required training, Bill is also certified judge for the Kansas City Barbeque Society and a member of the National Barbeque Society.  Not only is he an experienced competition cooker himself, but also sponsors several other teams using PCC units.

Starting as a hobby and evolving into a business as individuals asked to have grills constructed, the intention of PCC in today’s marketplace is clear. In Bill’s words:  First of all we realize that we cannot compete with the large discount stores and mass produce the types of grills they sell.  Instead we are trying to appeal to those individuals who are willing to pay a little more to have a barbeque grill that will essentially last a lifetime, and result in a far superior food product.  If the buyer factors in the expected years of service, cooking results, and pride of ownership, PCC grills and smokers are a bargain.