Pitmaster Interviews

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

Feb 13, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Christopher B “Stubbs” Stubblefield: A Cook

Dec 12, 2016 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Alice Lassaude of Meat Fight

Nov 2, 2016 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Sep 19, 2016 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Aug 26, 2016 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Dwight Harvey of Off The Bone Barbeque

May 3, 2016 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Laura Loomis of Two Bros. BBQ

Apr 25, 2016 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

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

Apr 19, 2016 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Tim Mikeska of Mikeska Brands

Mar 2, 2016 By Daniel Vaughn

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,…

Interview: Johan Fritzell of Holy Smoke BBQ

Feb 2, 2016 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse

Sep 23, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Tomas Limon II of Quality Packers

Sep 2, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Lolis Elie

Aug 19, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Kevin Bludso of Bludso’s BBQ

Aug 5, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Evan LeRoy of Freedmen’s Bar

Jul 22, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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.” It was…

How the East Was Won

Jul 8, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

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

Jun 24, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Marshall Prichard of Sammy’s BBQ

Jun 10, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Gary Williams of Gary’s BBQ

May 27, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

  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…

Interview: Roland Lindsey of Bodacious Bar-B-Q

May 13, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Edward Davila of Davila’s BBQ

Apr 29, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: George Mahathay of Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ

Apr 15, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Apr 8, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: LeAnn Mueller of La Barbecue

Mar 25, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Trent Brooks of Brooks’ Place

Mar 18, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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,…

Interview: James Davis of Davis Meat Market

Mar 4, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Tim Byres of Smoke

Feb 25, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Feb 11, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: John Mueller of John Mueller Meat Co.

Feb 4, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Jan 28, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Eddie Deen of Eddie Deen and Co.

Jan 21, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Jamie Geer of Jambo Pits

Jan 14, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse

Jan 7, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Chris Manning of Smokey Joe’s BBQ

Dec 17, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Ricky Mumphord of Mumphord’s Place

Dec 10, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

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

Dec 3, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Adam Perry Lang of Serious Barbecue

Nov 21, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Nov 5, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

Interview: Samuel Jones of Skylight Inn

Oct 29, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Rick Schmidt of Kreuz Market, Part II

Oct 22, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Rick Schmidt of Kreuz Market, Part I

Oct 15, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Oct 8, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

Owner/Pitmaster: Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que; Opened 1987 Age: 74 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Post Oak Leon 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…

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

Oct 1, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Johnny Fugitt of Barbecue Rankings

Sep 24, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Billy Durney of Hometown Bar-B-Que

Sep 17, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Jimmy Harris of David’s Barbecue

Sep 10, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Prause Family of Prause Meat Market

Sep 3, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

Gary, Mark, Kathy, and Brian Prause Owners: Prause Meat Market; Opened 1890’s Age: Gary Prause (60), Brian Prause (59), Kathy Prause (55), Mark Prause, pitmaster (51) Smoker: Wood-fired brick pit Wood: Oak Prause (pronounced Prowse-ey) Meat Market has been operating in La Grange for…