Pitmaster Interviews

BBQ |
February 13, 2017

Interview: Christine Jones of Christine’s Blues ‘N BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Christine’s Blues ‘N BBQ; Opened 2000Age: 53Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Mesquite and PecanRecords line the wall above the bar at Christine’s Blues ‘N BBQ. As soap operas played silently on the television, I asked her where all the good music was. With a smile, as if she thought nobody would

BBQ |
December 12, 2016

Christopher B “Stubbs” Stubblefield: A Cook

Lubbock guitarist, Jesse “Guitar” Taylor, was hitchhiking in Lubbock when a Cadillac pulled up. A stranger offered him a ride and Taylor hopped in. They drove for a bit and stopped in front of Stubb’s Bar-B-Que in East Lubbock. “I’ve walked by this place so many times and never been

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November 2, 2016

Interview: Alice Lassaude of Meat Fight

Alice Lassaude. Image from her Facebook pageAlice Lassaude is an incredibly funny writer with a James Beard award to show for it. She’s also the Meat Queen of Meat Fight, or more properly, the CEO of Meat Fight, Inc. Meat Fight is a barbecue competition

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September 19, 2016

Interview: Earnest Griffith Sr. of Back Country Bar-B-Q

Pitmaster: Back Country Bar-B-Que; Opened 1975Age: 62Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie SmokerWood: HickoryEarnest Griffith Sr. has been cooking barbecue in Dallas for 42 years. He started in downtown Dallas in 1970, when the area was teeming with workers in need of lunch. This was before the days of the downtown tunnels, which

BBQ |
August 26, 2016

Interview: Arnis Robbins of Evie Mae’s Bar-B-Que

Mallory and Arnis Robbins. Photo by Wyatt McSpaddenOwner/Pitmaster: Evie Mae’s Bar-B-Que; Opened 2015Age: 32Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: OakArnis and Mallory Robbins opened Evie Mae’s Bar-B-Que last year in Wolfforth. They started in a food trailer along the highway, and quickly gained a following. A year after opening, they celebrated a new

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May 3, 2016

Interview: Dwight Harvey of Off The Bone Barbeque

Owner/Pitmaster: Off the Bone Barbeque; Opened 2009Age: 70Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie SmokerWood: Pecan and MesquiteOff the Bone was once a tiny joint in a neighborhood without much of an identity. Since it opened seven years ago, The Cedars has grown into a destination, and the barbecue joint has grown with

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April 25, 2016

Interview: Laura Loomis of Two Bros. BBQ

Pitmaster: Two Bros. BBQ; Opened 2009Age: 28Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: OakA few years ago, Laura Loomis didn’t think much of Texas barbecue. Neither cooking nor eating it was a big deal in her family, and she admits to never really having a favorite joint growing up. She doesn’t remember eating

BBQ |
April 19, 2016

Interview: Karl Kuby Sr. of Kuby’s Sausage House

Karl Kuby Jr. (left) and Karl Kuby Sr. (right) outside of Kuby’sOwner: Kuby’s Sausage House; Opened 1961Age: 84If you’ve had breakfast at Kuby’s Sausage House in Dallas’s Snider Plaza, chances are you’ve seen Karl Kuby Sr. canvassing the dining room looking for kids so he can pass out his

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March 2, 2016

Interview: Tim Mikeska of Mikeska Brands

Owner: Mikeska Brands Texas Bar-B-Q; Founded 2008Age: 56Smoker: Brick SmokehouseWood: Oak wood with oak and hickory sawdustTim Mikeska has had enough with running restaurants. He’s traded it in for the wholesale sausage business, and now his family’s Czech sausage recipe can be enjoyed in Texas, New York, Connecticut, and all over

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February 2, 2016

Interview: Johan Fritzell of Holy Smoke BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Holy Smoke BBQ; Opened 2014Age: 43Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: OakSwedes love to grill, but low-and-slow, Texas-style barbecue is a concept so foreign that only one restaurant in the country serves it. They opened in 2014 when Johan Fritzell turned his passion into a rural barbecue stop in a field in southwestern Sweden,

BBQ |
September 23, 2015

Interview: John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse

Owner/Pitmaster: 4 Rivers Smokehouse; Opened 2009Age: 49Smoker: Gas-fired rotisserieWood: HickorySitting with a 2003 copy of the Texas Monthly Top 50, John Rivers occupied a table inside Rusty Taco in Dallas waiting for me. His travel schedule didn’t allow for a barbecue lunch, so bacon, eggs, cheese, and avocado on a tortilla became

BBQ |
September 2, 2015

Interview: Tomas Limon II of Quality Packers

Owner/Pitmaster: Quality Packers; Opened 1974 (restaurant in 2014)Age: 75Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie SmokerWood: Oak, Hickory, and MesquiteTomas Castillo Limon II is a native of San Antonio, but moved to Victoria in the sixties to get closer to his favorite fishing holes, and to get away from a bad lifestyle he’d created for himself in

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August 19, 2015

Interview: Lolis Elie

Author: Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue CountryAge: 52In the mid-nineties, Lolis Elie and photographer Frank Stewart travelled around the country eating barbecue for the book Smokestack Lightning. There aren’t many books as influential to my writing about barbecue than

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August 5, 2015

Interview: Kevin Bludso of Bludso’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Bludso’s BBQ; Opened 2008Age: 50Smoker: Steel offset smoker and gas-fired rotisserie smokerWood: Red oak, pecan, apple, and mesquite charcoalKevin Bludso’s roots are in Compton, but he earned his barbecue chops in Corsicana, Texas. His great aunt, Willie Mae Fields, ran a semi-legal barbecue business at a local gas

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July 22, 2015

Interview: Evan LeRoy of Freedmen’s Bar

Pitmaster: Freedmen’s Bar; Opened 2012Age: 29Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Post OakEven at his young age, Evan LeRoy doesn’t want for confidence. He once told viewers of American Grilled, a cooking show he was competing on, that “I can cook anything to perfection on any grill.” It was a bit

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July 8, 2015

How the East Was Won

TMBBQ welcomes guest writer Megan Giller who takes us to Japan for some Texas barbecue. Craig White. Photo from White Smoke’s Facebook page.Craig White is a Texan. He’s a pitmaster and an expert in smoked meats, and like many of his breed he can be secretive. White

BBQ |
June 24, 2015

Interview: Bennie Washington of Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Q

Owner/Pitmaster: Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Q; Opened 2000Age: 64Smoker: Wood-fired Offset SmokerWood: Mesquite, Post Oak, and PecanBennie Washington’s business may only be fifteen years old, but his barbecue experience goes back four decades. As a delivery truck driver for Pepsi, barbecue was a hobby, then a short-lived foray as a professional in

BBQ |
June 10, 2015

Interview: Marshall Prichard of Sammy’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Sammy’s BBQ; Opened 1992Age: 45Smoker: Wood-Fired RotisserieWood: HickoryMarshall Prichard could pass for a decade younger than his forty-five years. Somehow the barbecue business has been kind to him in the aging process. He was there on day one when Sammy’s BBQ opened in 1992, and he still brings a youthful

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May 27, 2015

Interview: Gary Williams of Gary’s BBQ

 Former Owner: Gary’s BarbequeAge: 75When he was twenty-six, Gary Williams said doctors told him he was bipolar and diagnosed him with depression and a chemical imbalance. “That’s a load, but I made it. I had a great doctor,” he told me while we sat across from one another at

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May 13, 2015

Interview: Roland Lindsey of Bodacious Bar-B-Q

Founder: Bodacious Bar-B-Q; Opened 1968Age: 76Smoker: Wood-fired Offset SmokerWood: OakRoland Lindsey went from running the pits for his dad in Dallas when he was fifteen, to running a chain of barbecue joints in (mostly) East Texas. He officially started Bodacious Bar-B-Q in Longview in 1968, and it has grown significantly since then.Since it was

BBQ |
April 29, 2015

Interview: Edward Davila of Davila’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Davila’s BBQ; Opened 1959Age: 65Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: MesquiteEdward Davila has just hit retirement age, but he can’t imagine life without working at the barbecue joint. He’s been doing it since he was a boy, and now he’s teaching his son to follow in his footsteps.After our interview, Davila wanted

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April 15, 2015

Interview: George Mahathay of Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ; Opened 1986 (estimated)Age: 68Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Red Oak and HickoryIt seems that everybody who drives by Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ in Jasper honks and waves. George “Billy” Mahathay is a popular man, almost as popular as his barbecue. He told me jokingly that

BBQ |
April 8, 2015

Interview: Robert Patillo of Patillo’s Bar-B-Q

Owner: Patillo’s Bar-B-Q; Opened 1912Age: 67Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Hickory, red oak, white oak, and pecanPatillo’s Bar-B-Q has been operating in Beaumont since 1912. It has moved around a lot in the past 100 years, but it’s always been in the family. That makes it the oldest family owned barbecue establishment in

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March 25, 2015

Interview: LeAnn Mueller of La Barbecue

Owner: La Barbecue; Opened 2012Age: 42LeAnn Mueller hails from a famous barbecue family, but all she ever wanted was to be a professional photographer. Now she has the photography career and one of the state’s most highly regarded barbecue joints, which is ironic for someone who wanted nothing

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March 18, 2015

Interview: Trent Brooks of Brooks’ Place

Owner/Pitmaster: Brooks’ Place; Opened 2009Age: 45Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Red Oak, Pecan, Hickory, and MesquiteBrooks’ Place isn’t exactly easy to get to, but that’s part of its charm. Cypress is at least a thirty minute drive from downtown Houston. It’s a destination, and those in line

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March 4, 2015

Interview: James Davis of Davis Meat Market

Owner/Pitmaster: Davis Meat Market; Opened 1988Age: 76Smoker: Gas-fired Rotisserie SmokerWood: OakI rang a buzzer outside this bright red metal building in Houston’s Fifth Ward, and owner James Davis met me at the door. As soon as I stepped inside the smell of raw meat was present, but not

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February 25, 2015

Interview: Tim Byres of Smoke

Co-Owner/Chef: Smoke; Opened 2009Age: 39Smoker: Wood-fired Offset SmokerWood: VariousTim Byres is a man who is hard to pin down, mainly because he despises labels. He has been chef, pitmaster, author, culinary diplomat, and almost a food stylist. Six years ago he opened Smoke in West Dallas along with Chris Zielke and Chris

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February 11, 2015

Interview: Michael Hernandez of Hays Co. Bar-B-Que

Owner/Pitmaster: Hays Co. Bar-B-Que; Opened 2007Age: 41Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Post OakIn just eight short years, Michael Hernandez has gone from complete barbecue newbie to running one of the best barbecue joints in Texas. He was a fast learner and was dedicated to learning a new craft that he

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February 4, 2015

Interview: John Mueller of John Mueller Meat Co.

Owner/Pitmaster: John Mueller Meat Co.; Opened 2013Age: 46Smoker: Wood-fired Offset SmokerWood: OakMercurial is often the word chosen to describe John Mueller. Verbal attacks on customers and employees are a regular occurrence, but they keep coming back for his famous barbecue. There’s a famous name involved too.John’s father was the legendary Bobby Mueller who

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January 28, 2015

Interview: Shane Wilkinson and Lynn Owens of Bartley’s BBQ

Business: Bartley’s BBQ; Opened 1968Owner: Lynn OwensPitmaster: Shane Wilkinson, 36Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie PitWood: HickoryBartley’s BBQ has changed hands a number of times since it opened in 1968, and it was forced to change locations in the nineties. Shane Wilkinson is the pitmaster, and son-in-law of owner Lynn Owens, and he jokes that

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January 21, 2015

Interview: Eddie Deen of Eddie Deen and Co.

Owner/Pitmaster: Eddie Deen and Co.; Opened 1994Age: 58Smoker: Wood Fired Rotisserie SmokerWood: HickoryIn the last twenty years, Eddie Deen has quietly built a barbecue empire. His restaurants include Crossroads BBQ in Arlington, Hickory Roots BBQ in Terrell, and Eddie Deen’s BBQ in Rockwall. There’s also a giant event space south of

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January 14, 2015

Interview: Jamie Geer of Jambo Pits

Owner: Jambo Pits; Opened 2007Age: 59Jamie Geer isn’t some one-dimensional competition barbecue cook. After a career in welding, he started building smokers. They were some of the prettiest ones out there, but also made other cooks a lot more competitive. These days you don’t have to look very

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January 7, 2015

Interview: Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse

Co-Owner: Perini Ranch Steakhouse; Opened 1983Age: 71Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: MesquiteTom Perini cooks with mesquite. It might be in the form of coals for direct heat cooking, or the active flames of burning logs for grilling steaks. That mesquite also fuels an offset smoker for the smoked prime rib served

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December 17, 2014

Interview: Chris Manning of Smokey Joe’s BBQ

Chris Manning, Siretha Davis, and Earl HarrisOwner: Smokey Joe’s BBQ; Opened 1985Age: 24Smoker: Wood-fired Brick SmokerWood: HickoryThirty years is a long time to keep a barbecue joint going, but Chris Manning wasn’t even born when Smokey Joe’s opened in 1985. The twenty-four year old swore he wouldn’t work in the

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December 10, 2014

Interview: Ricky Mumphord of Mumphord’s Place

Keith (left) and Ricky (right) MumphordCo-Owner/ Pitmaster: Mumphord’s Place; Opened 2000Age: 57Smoker: Direct heat steel pitWood: Mesquite and OakWhen your family came through Indianola, Texas, which suffered two hurricanes and was essentially abandoned by 1887, you know the family’s been around a while. That’s where the Mumphord’s landed

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December 3, 2014

Interview: Louis McMillan of McMillan’s Bar-B-Q

Owner/Pitmaster: McMillan’s Bar-B-Q; Opened 1974Age: 69Smoker: Wood-fired Offset SmokerWood: Oak, Mesquite, and PecanLouis McMillan wasn’t happy, and I knew he wouldn’t be. I was in his restaurant to interview him because he’d been honored as one of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ joints, but we had a longer history. While

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November 21, 2014

Interview: Adam Perry Lang of Serious Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: Serious BarbecueAge: 45Smoker: Wood-fired Offset SmokerWood: Red Oak, White Oak, and PecanThere isn’t much that Adam Perry Lang hasn’t done in the world of barbecue. He has authored multiple books on barbecue including Serious Barbecue, BBQ 25, and Charred & Scruffed. He found success in a brief stint on the

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November 5, 2014

Interview: Billy Ray Nelson of Hitch-N-Post BBQ

Photo provided by Billy Ray NelsonOwner/ Pitmaster: Hitch-N-Post BBQ; Opened 2009Age: 64Smoker: Wood-fired Indirect Heat SmokerWood: Hickory, Red Oak, White Oak & PecanAfter he retired from his duties as a Polk County sheriff’s deputy, Billy Ray Nelson decided to turn his hobby into a retirement plan. He opened Hitch-N-Post BBQ five years

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October 29, 2014

Interview: Samuel Jones of Skylight Inn

Samuel Jones (right) with NC BBQ legend Ed Mitchell (left)Co-Owner/Pitmaster: Skylight Inn; Opened 1947 in Ayden, North CarolinaAge: 33Cooker: Direct heat brick pitWood: Oak and HickorySamuel Jones is part of a North Carolina family that was cooking barbecue back in the nineteenth century. He’s been at the restaurant since birth, and surmises

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October 22, 2014

Interview: Rick Schmidt of Kreuz Market, Part II

Former Owner: Kreuz Market; Opened 1900 (current location 1999)Age: 69Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Post OakIt’s the most famous family feud in Texas barbecue. A disagreement between Nina Sells and her bother Rick Schmidt caused a rift that sent the historic Kreuz Market packing. After ninety-nine years in the same building,

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October 15, 2014

Interview: Rick Schmidt of Kreuz Market, Part I

Former Owner: Kreuz Market; Opened 1900 (current location 1999)Age: 69Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Post OakRick Schmidt owned Kreuz Market from 1984 to 2011. He bought it from his father Edgar “Smitty” Schmidt, and sold it to his son Keith. Rick took a momentous step in moving the business from its

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October 8, 2014

Interview: Leon O’Neal of Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que

Owner/Pitmaster: Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que; Opened 1987Age: 74Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie SmokerWood: Post OakLeon O’Neal didn’t get into the barbecue business until he was forty-five years old, but he’s managed to be successful in Galveston for nearly three decades in a converted house that once contained

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October 1, 2014

Interview: Samuel “Bo” Phillips of Cooper’s Bar-B-Que

Pitmaster: Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que; Opened 1963Age: 64Smoker: Charcoal-fired steel cooker and electric rotisserie smokerWood: Lump Mesquite CharcoalThere’s more than one cook at a big operation like Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, but Bo Phillips is the one who gets up early enough to get

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September 24, 2014

Interview: Johnny Fugitt of Barbecue Rankings

Photo from Fugitt’s Facebook pageWriter: 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in AmericaAge: 29Johnny Fugitt is nearing the end of a one year tour around the country looking for the best barbecue joints in the country – one hundred of them to be exact. He was sick of all

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September 17, 2014

Interview: Billy Durney of Hometown Bar-B-Que

Owner/Pitmaster: Hometown Bar-B-Que; Opened 2013Age: 42Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Oak and CherryBilly Durney is all New York, but he knows where to go in Texas to find great barbecue. This past week his restaurant Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, Brooklyn celebrated its