By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – While most of us have a few dozen people over for a cookout, Randy Lann often has a few hundred. Or a few thousand.
Lann, the executive director of the Arkansas Home Furnishings Association, happens to be a world champion steak griller whose clients include a former president and an NFL team.
On Thursday, he hosted 500 furniture industry players to the AHFA reception at the Fall Tupelo Furniture Market. For entertainment, Jason D. Williams was brought in to perform.
Lann’s main mission – besides providing some great barbecue – is to bring association members and retailers from the area to Tupelo.
“We’ve had our own regional furniture market in Arkansas for 60-plus years, but these are tough times with fewer dealers but more markets,” he said. “So it’s been harder not to get vendors for the market but to get dealers. And a market’s no good without dealers.
“We’re a close group and we decided to partner with Tupelo. Tupelo is the place to get promotional upholstery, and our dealers realize that.”
The partnership between the Arkansas group and the Tupelo Furniture Market isn’t new – they’ve collaborated for years – but the organizations have never been closer. It’s a relationship that benefits both parties.
V.M. Cleveland, owner and chairman of TFM, said the partnership “brings much value to the market. We’re seeing dealers from Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and other areas that the Arkansas Home Furnishings Association reached but who either have never been here or haven’t been here for a long time.”
“It’s a two-way street,” Lann said. “It’s good for us and it’s good for Tupelo.”
Lann, the 2006 World Champion Steak Cook-off winner, is also the official griller for Dallas Cowboys Grilling Products. He’s grilling steaks, ribs, brisket, chicken, sausage and pork at Cowboys home games, Arkansas Razorback home games, as well as scores of charity events. He’s also grilled quite a few times for former Arkansas governor and former President Bill Clinton. At this year’s Super Bowl, he cooked for 3,500 people at the officially sanctioned NFL tailgate party.
Lann’s championship at the Magnolia Blossom Festival in Arkansas also was televised by the Food Network, helping propel Lann’s popularity and grilling skills.
The secret recipe to his award-winning steaks – and he’s cooked about 250,000 – is one he won’t share. However, he did offer this advice: “Whatever dry rub you use, rub it in, put a little olive oil on it, let it marinate overnight. Then when you grill it, it’ll be tender enough to cut with a plastic fork.”