Today we’d like to introduce you to Marcus Donaldson.
Hi Marcus, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Definitely! The idea of GOOD AZ BBQ came to me in the Summer of 2017. I was solo-traveling around Europe and enjoying a pit stop in my hometown in England, and that’s when the idea came to me. I have always enjoyed good food and found that the one thing that brought people together from all different cultures, ethnicities, and parts of the world was food. Where else could so many people from various walks of life gather freely and enjoy a common good? Granted, it took me 5 years, 5,000 miles, and a pandemic to begin GOOD AZ BBQ, but I figured 2022 was as great of a time as any, and here we are.
GOOD AZ BBQ has the mantra of providing “Good AZ Food for Good AZ-People” and is our belief that life is best lived one hour at a time, and that’s how we make our food. We are a family-operated, Black-owned, and faith-filled BBQ food pickup and catering service. We strive to create a soulful eating experience through a blend of culinary practices inspired by British, Caribbean, and of course, Arizonian barbecue techniques and flavors.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We launched on the 28th of June, so we are relatively new to the food scene. It has been smooth, but there have been a lot of learning experiences along the way. As I mentioned, we are a family-operated food service run by myself and my wife. Neither of our backgrounds is in culinary services or the food catering industry.
When it comes to barbecue, I am mostly self-taught. I spent many years experimenting in my kitchen with flavor profiles, blends, rubs, recipes, and different meats. Which, for any classically trained cook, can be quite infuriating! I knew how I wanted my food to taste, but it did take five years to get it to a point where I felt confident selling it.
The biggest struggle has been taking a leap of faith and trusting in my barbecuing abilities. It can be intimidating at times. There are dozens of good barbecue spots in the Valley, but I remind myself that it isn’t a competition. I don’t view it as such. I enjoy making good barbecue and want others to experience it, too. There are always 1,000 different reasons not to do something, but all you need to do is find and cling to one reason to do it and then go for it. This is the mentality I approach my work with.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
My background is in education, and I spent 4 years as a teacher in the California Bay Area before moving to Arizona in 2019. Before launching GOOD AZ BBQ, I worked in the field of Climate Justice and Sustainability. Before that, I was a Master’s Degree student at ASU and plan to return for my Ph.D. in August of 2023.
GOOD AZ BBQ specializes in barbecue. We are a pickup and catering service. Each week the call for orders is sent out, and customers can place them between Tuesday at 10 am and Wednesday at 11:59 pm. Food pickups are on Fridays at 6:30 pm. Every week features rotating main meat. One week it may be our Marlborough Mesa Ribs; the next could be our GOOD ‘Ole Smoked Chicken Wings or our Pork (Get In My) Belly Bites. Every meal comes with a 16oz drink, cornbread, and two homemade sides. Customers can choose coleslaw, waffle fries; BBQ baked beans, or mac ‘n’ cheese.
One obvious thing that sets GOOD AZ BBQ apart is that I run it, a Black British pit-master. I don’t know of anyone else with the same background who is making barbecue in the entire state of Arizona. In addition, GOOD AZ BBQ has a “donate a meal” option meaning anyone from around the state, country, or even the world can purchase a meal for a community member who may be facing food insecurity or homelessness. The purchased meal is hand-delivered to an at-need individual. The support is two-fold; a customer can now support our business by purchasing a meal and ensuring that a member of our community can have one. We also package up and donate the leftovers from every meal as a form of community outreach. I think everyone deserves to be able to have food. Aside from that, another characteristic that sets us apart is that we are a small business and can cater to your specific needs. We are a family run and have the time, desire, and passion for ensuring each plate is perfectly made. I make each order as if it were being eaten around my table. There are no corners cut.
I think what I am most proud of is our logo, which I made myself. I think it captures some classic Arizona colors and a cactus and is bold enough to tell you all you need to know about GOOD AZ BBQ.
Alright, before we go, can you talk to us a bit about how people can work, collaborate, or support you?
The greatest way to support right now would be to order a plate of food and tell your friends about GOOD AZ BBQ! I am open to collaborating and working with other pitmasters here in the Valley, popping up at your small business, public event, or joining you and your team as a guest pitmaster at a private residence. In addition, I am always looking for small to medium-sized catering opportunities such as company lunches, birthdays, or other social events and get-togethers. If anyone would like to discuss catering opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For individual plates pricing ranges from $15-$22 per plate.
- Catering options are dependant upon a variety of factors like the number of people, length of event, distance to travel, etc.
- Website: goodazbbq.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/goodazbbq
- Facebook: facebook.com/goodazbbq
- Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@goodazbbq