RED WING -- At Michael Holmes house, the aroma of smoked meat becomes more potent with each step.
The Red Wing resident and owner of Rude Boi LLC is firing up his 24-rack, 500-pound smoker often, catering to events and private parties. Holmes grew up in Arkansas, but spent his high school years and some after in Red Wing.
Holmes graduated from Red Wing High School in 1998, moved away from the city for a time, and recently returned from Baldwin, Wis., about three years ago.
It was a fresh start, a new chance at making a life for himself in Red Wing that motivated himself to come back.
Holmes admits that his time in Red Wing was troubled. Hanging out with some bad influences and run-ins with local law enforcement were all too frequent.
Even though he had his fair share of difficult times in Red Wing, Holmes said he sees a future for himself and his family.
“I see a lot of potential in this town and this area,” Holmes said. “A lot of people can say what they want about this town, I sometimes do, I’m not going to lie. I want my daughter to be able to have that experience. I want her to be able to enjoy this town and see what in 10, 15 years when she’s old enough to venture out on her own, she’ll be able to have her own stories. I want my kids to have more positive stories than I did.”
Cooking has been his outlet to success.
Holmes’ great-grandmother raised him in Arkansas and is responsible for showing him the cooking outlet. His family was self-sustaining, growing food, bartering with neighbors, and making elaborate feasts that he reminisces about today.
His great-grandmother was, and is, an inspiration to Holmes. He says often that his she taught him a myriad of things outside of cooking as well.
At his Red Wing residence, Holmes is working to establish his garden, just like the one in Arkansas. His home is where he cooks in his catering truck, but it’s also where he decides what he wants to do next with his food.
Rude Boi specializes in jerk and Caribbean flavors. Holmes puts his “Americanized spin” on the types of food he creates, but wanted to center his business on those flavors because they reflect on the people he grew up with.
So what does a brainstorming session look like for Holmes? Well, it’s not overly complicated: “I will get me a six-pack of Red Stripe, sit in the backyard, throw on some Marley, and just let it take me.”
Slabs of ribs, pork and chicken are smoked to perfection with Holmes’ signature rubs, which will make anyone keep coming back for more.
And while many see jerk seasoning as spicy, Holmes’ food has a variety. But if you’re looking for something hot, he can help you with that, too.
When he’s not cooking or spending time with his family, Holmes said he volunteers with the youth in Red Wing, trying to set them on a different path than he led.
Eventually, he’d love to have a small, intimate restaurant in Red Wing. Holmes could make the restaurant a safe haven of sorts for kids who are like him was. They could work, get some food and have a place to go when their options are limited.
“I was a wild one back in the day. This just keeps me calm,” Holmes said about cooking. “Too much at stake, you know, I don’t know if that’s the way to go, but I ain’t into that no more. I see too much going around here with all the shootings and the fighting and drugs. Like I know some of these kids and, you know, I interact with them ... . It’s like, ‘Man you guys, y’all can do better.’ Just trying to be that mentor.
"I don’t want to say, ‘look at me now,’ but just look at where I come from, this is my story. We kind of got the same story, let’s not repeat it, you know what I mean?”
Holmes acknowledges that people in the community may view him as a “jerk,” and he’s fine with that. But if you want to get to know him, the real him, you should try his jerk food.
“My cooking comes from my heart. My cooking tells my story,” Holmes said. “That’s what I want people to know. People wanna know about me, come eat my food. The old saying, let’s break bread.”
For more information, visit the Rude Boi catering Facebook page.