Josh George, US paralympic athlete, talks accomplishments, nutrition and the best barbecue


Josh George, an accomplished US Paralympic athlete, embodies the concept that motivation, drive and enthusiasm can bring success both on the road and in a restaurant.

Few people can call themselves gold medalists, world champions and marathon winners. Josh George lays claim to all three titles. The US Paralympic athlete has tallied numerous accolades and accomplishments as a wheelchair athlete. While those accomplishments are impressive, his drive and determination continues to grow.

On his website bio, George says that his underlying principles are “Maximize your Potential, and Keep Moving Fast.” While those ideals are impressive, the work to achieve them can be daunting. Even as he works and trains, his passion beyond the racing world seems to keep him energized.

In addition to his athletic pursuits, George owns Smokin’ J’s, a barbecue restaurant in Southern California with his brother. This successful food stand has transitioned into a restaurant. The partnership with his brother grew out of a love of barbecue.

While barbecue and Southern California might be an unlikely combination, the restaurant is looking to redefine preconceived notions. From nuanced, slow smoked meat to house made rubs and sauces, the attention to every detail is carefully crafted. The restaurant, like George on the race track, looks to maximize its potential, day after day.

Ahead of the NYC Half Marathon, I was able to ask Josh a few questions regarding his motivation, nutrition and his barbecue restaurant. Below is a transcript of that interview.

Josh George at a youth event, photo provided by New York Road Runners

Cristine Struble: You have achieved so many accolades in your sport, what continues to drive you?

Josh George: My overarching motivation is the desire to maximize my potential. With the skills and attributes I have, I am curious as to how fast I can possibly go.  Every race I do is another challenge to see how fast I can get my body to move.

However, I am driven every day by my competitors. I have the privilege of racing some incredible people, who push themselves to the limit to get faster. There is no greater thrill than flying through the streets of a city such as New York in a pack. Wheelchair racing is also a growing sport, and I love having the opportunity to help it grow and push it forward.

CS: As an athlete, how important is good nutrition? How does it fuel your success?

JG: Nutrition is incredibly important, however it is also my greatest weakness. I love good food, but do not eat a lot. My struggle is typically forcing myself to eat food for its value as energy rather than its value as a delicious meal. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better over the course of my career, but I still have a long ways to go.

CS: Recently, you opened Smokin’ J’s, why did you want to open a BBQ restaurant?

JG: Smokin J’s BBQ was founded by my brother Jeremy a couple years ago as a slow-smoked BBQ food stand and catering company in San Diego. The passion to cook, and the expert ability to do so, is his. We have always been close, however, and it was the opportunity to work with him that drew me to the idea. I have helped him from the beginning, building the website and designing menus or marketing materials he needed. We took a huge step forward this past summer when I moved to San Diego to work more closely with Jeremy. Since that time, we have double the size of our business and are opening our first restaurant in May.

CS: How would you describe Smokin’ J’s style of BBQ?

JG: Jeremy sets the tone of the food at Smokin J’s, and he developed his passion for BBQ while he was going to school in St. Louis and taking weekend trips to Kansas City to eat. Our style is thus influenced by Kansas City, however Jeremy has developed his own style off that. In San Diego we are trying to break away from the mentality that BBQ is just meat that you put sauce on. We slow-smoke our meats for up to 15 hours in our custom built smoker. Everything is done with a house-blended dry rub, and is delicious with or without our house-made sauce.

CS: What is the signature dish of your restaurant?

JG: I am asked this question about 50 times a day, and I never have a great answer. The baby back ribs are my personal favorite, but Jeremy makes the best pulled pork sandwich I’ve ever tasted. There are also days when I just want to sit at a table with a whole smoked brisket and not leave until it is finished.

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I would like to thank Josh George for taking the time to chat with me. I wish him well in all of his future endeavors.

If you would like to learn more about Smokin’ J’s delicious barbecue, please visit the website at