After a false start, John Brotherton made a resolution to commit his life to barbecue. He quit his full-time job as a debt collector in 2016 and hasn’t looked back. Brotherton teamed-up with Kelly Gerry, the owner of the former Black Iron Eats, and together they brought tasty barbecue classics and inventive dishes to Pflugerville.
Tell me about the first person who taught you about barbecue.
I am one hundred percent self-taught. I was exposed to barbecue from a young age, but learned to cook it on my own. When I was a kid, my mom worked in a barbecue joint, and my biological father was a welder who frequently made barbecue pits. We had a barbecue pit that he made in our backyard.
Do you remember a backyard or a barbecue joint that started your barbecue obsession?
I loved the chopped beef sandwiches from Brick’s Bar-B-Q, where my mom worked, and Anderson’s Bar BQ—both in Liberty, Texas. Both places are no longer around.
What message are you trying to share to your customers through your food?
We put a lot of thought and care into our food. We source our meats from a family-owned small business. I bring in bread from across the country and from local bakers. Everything is made from scratch. I want to punch you in the mouth with flavor, and also provide you with that nostalgic bite that takes you back to your favorite barbecue experiences.
As a professional pitmaster, are you a BBQ Freak just like the rest of us?
When was the last time you ate someone else’s barbecue besides your own?
Two days ago at Interstellar BBQ.
What’s the most surprising BBQ dish you’ve eaten?
The Panang Curry Beef Rib from Khoi Barbecue in Houston. AMAZING!
What’s the best beverage to wash down BBQ?
Iced tea or Diet Dr Pepper. I don’t drink alcohol or Big Red.
What’s a tool you use in cooking that might not seem like an obvious barbecue tool?
I use a fryer basket to separate the coals from the ash.
What recommendations do you have for someone new to Texas ’cue?
If you go to a barbecue joint and have a bad experience, give them another try. We can’t be perfect every time. Let the cutter or order taker know exactly what you want. If you like the extra moist brisket from Rudy’s, be sure to order it the same at the other barbecue joints you go to. If you can talk to the people that cook your barbecue and check out the pit room, it will make your experience even better.
Want to connect with some of your favorite Texas pitmasters, like John? Join our members-only TM BBQ Club Facebook Group.