Pitmaster Interviews

BBQ |
February 13, 2017

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

Owner/Pitmaster: Christine’s Blues ‘N BBQ; Opened 2000 Age: 53 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Mesquite and Pecan Records 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…

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…

BBQ |
November 2, 2016

Interview: Alice Lassaude of Meat Fight

Alice Lassaude. Image from her Facebook page Alice 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…

BBQ |
September 19, 2016

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

Pitmaster: Back Country Bar-B-Que; Opened 1975 Age: 62 Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory Earnest 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…

BBQ |
August 26, 2016

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

Mallory and Arnis Robbins. Photo by Wyatt McSpadden Owner/Pitmaster: Evie Mae’s Bar-B-Que; Opened 2015 Age: 32 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak Arnis 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…

BBQ |
May 3, 2016

Interview: Dwight Harvey of Off The Bone Barbeque

Owner/Pitmaster: Off the Bone Barbeque; Opened 2009 Age: 70 Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Pecan and Mesquite Off 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…

BBQ |
April 25, 2016

Interview: Laura Loomis of Two Bros. BBQ

Pitmaster: Two Bros. BBQ; Opened 2009 Age: 28 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak A 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.

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’s Owner: Kuby’s Sausage House; Opened 1961 Age: 84 If 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…

BBQ |
March 2, 2016

Interview: Tim Mikeska of Mikeska Brands

Owner: Mikeska Brands Texas Bar-B-Q; Founded 2008 Age: 56 Smoker: Brick Smokehouse Wood: Oak wood with oak and hickory sawdust Tim 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,…

BBQ |
February 2, 2016

Interview: Johan Fritzell of Holy Smoke BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Holy Smoke BBQ; Opened 2014 Age: 43 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak Swedes 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…

BBQ |
September 23, 2015

Interview: John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse

Owner/Pitmaster: 4 Rivers Smokehouse; Opened 2009 Age: 49 Smoker: Gas-fired rotisserie Wood: Hickory Sitting 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…

BBQ |
September 2, 2015

Interview: Tomas Limon II of Quality Packers

Owner/Pitmaster: Quality Packers; Opened 1974 (restaurant in 2014) Age: 75 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Oak, Hickory, and Mesquite Tomas 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…

BBQ |
August 19, 2015

Interview: Lolis Elie

Author: Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country Age: 52 In 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…

BBQ |
August 5, 2015

Interview: Kevin Bludso of Bludso’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Bludso’s BBQ; Opened 2008 Age: 50 Smoker: Steel offset smoker and gas-fired rotisserie smoker Wood: Red oak, pecan, apple, and mesquite charcoal Kevin 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…

BBQ |
July 22, 2015

Interview: Evan LeRoy of Freedmen’s Bar

Pitmaster: Freedmen’s Bar; Opened 2012 Age: 29 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Post Oak Even 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.”…

BBQ |
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.

BBQ |
June 24, 2015

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

Owner/Pitmaster: Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Q; Opened 2000 Age: 64 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Smoker Wood: Mesquite, Post Oak, and Pecan Bennie 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…

BBQ |
June 10, 2015

Interview: Marshall Prichard of Sammy’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Sammy’s BBQ; Opened 1992 Age: 45 Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie Wood: Hickory Marshall 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…

BBQ |
May 27, 2015

Interview: Gary Williams of Gary’s BBQ

  Former Owner: Gary’s Barbeque Age: 75 When 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…

BBQ |
May 13, 2015

Interview: Roland Lindsey of Bodacious Bar-B-Q

Founder: Bodacious Bar-B-Q; Opened 1968 Age: 76 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Smoker Wood: Oak Roland 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…

BBQ |
April 29, 2015

Interview: Edward Davila of Davila’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Davila’s BBQ; Opened 1959 Age: 65 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Mesquite Edward 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…

BBQ |
April 15, 2015

Interview: George Mahathay of Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ; Opened 1986 (estimated) Age: 68 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Red Oak and Hickory It 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…

BBQ |
April 8, 2015

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

Owner: Patillo’s Bar-B-Q; Opened 1912 Age: 67 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Hickory, red oak, white oak, and pecan Patillo’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…

BBQ |
March 25, 2015

Interview: LeAnn Mueller of La Barbecue

Owner: La Barbecue; Opened 2012 Age: 42 LeAnn 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…

BBQ |
March 18, 2015

Interview: Trent Brooks of Brooks’ Place

Owner/Pitmaster: Brooks’ Place; Opened 2009 Age: 45 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Red Oak, Pecan, Hickory, and Mesquite Brooks’ 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,…

BBQ |
March 4, 2015

Interview: James Davis of Davis Meat Market

Owner/Pitmaster: Davis Meat Market; Opened 1988 Age: 76 Smoker: Gas-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Oak I 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…

BBQ |
February 25, 2015

Interview: Tim Byres of Smoke

Co-Owner/Chef: Smoke; Opened 2009 Age: 39 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Smoker Wood: Various Tim 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…

BBQ |
February 11, 2015

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

Owner/Pitmaster: Hays Co. Bar-B-Que; Opened 2007 Age: 41 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Post Oak In 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…

BBQ |
February 4, 2015

Interview: John Mueller of John Mueller Meat Co.

Owner/Pitmaster: John Mueller Meat Co.; Opened 2013 Age: 46 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Smoker Wood: Oak Mercurial 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…

BBQ |
January 28, 2015

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

Business: Bartley’s BBQ; Opened 1968 Owner: Lynn Owens Pitmaster: Shane Wilkinson, 36 Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie Pit Wood: Hickory Bartley’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…

BBQ |
January 21, 2015

Interview: Eddie Deen of Eddie Deen and Co.

Owner/Pitmaster: Eddie Deen and Co.; Opened 1994 Age: 58 Smoker: Wood Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory In 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…

BBQ |
January 14, 2015

Interview: Jamie Geer of Jambo Pits

Owner: Jambo Pits; Opened 2007 Age: 59 Jamie 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…

BBQ |
January 7, 2015

Interview: Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse

Co-Owner: Perini Ranch Steakhouse; Opened 1983 Age: 71 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Mesquite Tom 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…

BBQ |
December 17, 2014

Interview: Chris Manning of Smokey Joe’s BBQ

Chris Manning, Siretha Davis, and Earl Harris Owner: Smokey Joe’s BBQ; Opened 1985 Age: 24 Smoker: Wood-fired Brick Smoker Wood: Hickory Thirty 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…

BBQ |
December 10, 2014

Interview: Ricky Mumphord of Mumphord’s Place

Keith (left) and Ricky (right) Mumphord Co-Owner/ Pitmaster: Mumphord’s Place; Opened 2000 Age: 57 Smoker: Direct heat steel pit Wood: Mesquite and Oak When 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.

BBQ |
December 3, 2014

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

Owner/Pitmaster: McMillan’s Bar-B-Q; Opened 1974 Age: 69 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Smoker Wood: Oak, Mesquite, and Pecan Louis 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…

BBQ |
November 21, 2014

Interview: Adam Perry Lang of Serious Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: Serious Barbecue Age: 45 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Smoker Wood: Red Oak, White Oak, and Pecan There 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…

BBQ |
November 5, 2014

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

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

BBQ |
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 Carolina Age: 33 Cooker: Direct heat brick pit Wood: Oak and Hickory Samuel Jones is part of a North Carolina family that was cooking barbecue back in the nineteenth century. He’s been at the…

BBQ |
October 22, 2014

Interview: Rick Schmidt of Kreuz Market, Part II

Former Owner: Kreuz Market; Opened 1900 (current location 1999) Age: 69 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Post Oak It’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…

BBQ |
October 15, 2014

Interview: Rick Schmidt of Kreuz Market, Part I

Former Owner: Kreuz Market; Opened 1900 (current location 1999) Age: 69 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Post Oak Rick 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…

BBQ |
October 1, 2014

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

Pitmaster: Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que; Opened 1963 Age: 64 Smoker: Charcoal-fired steel cooker and electric rotisserie smoker Wood: Lump Mesquite Charcoal There’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…

BBQ |
September 24, 2014

Interview: Johnny Fugitt of Barbecue Rankings

Photo from Fugitt’s Facebook page Writer: 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America Age: 29 Johnny 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…

BBQ |
September 17, 2014

Interview: Billy Durney of Hometown Bar-B-Que

Owner/Pitmaster: Hometown Bar-B-Que; Opened 2013 Age: 42 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak and Cherry Billy 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…

BBQ |
September 10, 2014

Interview: Jimmy Harris of David’s Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: David’s Barbecue; Opened 1988 Age: 49 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory Jimmy Harris doesn’t have much time for barbecue reviewers. “The real judge is that cash register.” And it hasn’t let him down for over two decades since he and his…