RUSK, Texas (KETK) — After a long look across the United States one local griller is a contestant in an all-new original series called Barbecue Country. The show features the best backyard cooks in the nation.

Howell Jackson, also known as “Shorty,” is a Rusk native and a Top 12 contestant.

He lived in Kansas City for part of his life and says his style is “a little bit of Texas, Kansas City and a lot more Texas,” said Jackson.

Shorty found out about the competition from a friend.

“I thought ‘why not, I’ll give it a whirl.’ So I entered the contest and about a week or two later I received a phone call asking me if I was ready to go to Nashville to be on the show and I said absolutely,” said Jackson.

He traveled over 600 miles to compete with 11 other contestants not knowing what to expect.

“Those are long cooks and it’s not on camera, it’s way different and design than what that show is,” said Jackson.

He had to quickly adapt to the fast cooks that the show required.

“It didn’t take long at all until you just get in your groove and start doing what you know to do,” said Jackson.

He has a special sauce that’s helped him place in other barbecue competitions and he says the recipe is a secret.

“The ones I have won was using the sauce, so I’ve always used my own sauces,” said Jackson.

He hopes his sauce will carry him to the finish line.

The crowned barbecue champion will get a cash prize of $15,000 and plenty of outdoor grilling equipment.

“I have some things in my outdoor kitchen that I’d like to finish up in it and invest some money into that,” said Jackson.

He is smoking the competition to bring home the win.

The first episode airs on The Country Network on Monday, May 29 at 8 p.m. CST.