Pitmaster Interviews

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…

BBQ |
September 3, 2014

Interview: Prause Family of Prause Meat Market

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…

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August 27, 2014

Interview: Seth Glaser of Opie’s BBQ

Pitmaster: Opie’s BBQ; Opened 1999 Age: 27 Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Mesquite Todd and Kristin Ashmore are the owners of Opie’s BBQ in Spicewood. A few years ago Seth Glaser married their daughter, and shortly after he started working there. At first,…

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August 20, 2014

Interview: Cliff Payne of Cousin’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Cousin’s BBQ; Opened 1983 Age: 59 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory & Pecan As the name suggests, Cousin’s BBQ is about family. Calvin “Bootsie” Payne III opened the place on McCart Avenue in Fort Worth in 1983 along with his wife and three of his…

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August 13, 2014

Interview: Ricky Murray of Murray’s BBQ

Owner/ Pitmaster: Murray’s BBQ; Opened 1987 Age: 58 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Hickory and Pecan Ricky Murray handed me a chopped beef and hot link sandwich and lined up several bottles of hot sauce. He makes a good barbecue sauce, but…

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August 6, 2014

Interview: Bert Bunte of Zimmerhanzel’s Bar-B-Que

Owner/ Pitmaster: Zimmerhanzel’s Bar-B-Que; Opened 1980 Age: 55 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak Bert Bunte is a man of few words. When I stopped in at Zimmerhanzel’s for this interview, he tried to shove it off onto his wife…

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July 30, 2014

Interview: Nina Sells of Smitty’s Market

Owner: Smitty’s Market; Opened 1999 Age: 64 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak There’s plenty more to Smitty’s Market in Lockhart (formerly Kreuz Market) than the family split that occurred fifteen years ago. Nina Sells grew up in…

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July 23, 2014

Interview: Ronnie Killen of Killen’s Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: Killen’s Barbecue; Opened 2014 Age: 47 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit, Wood-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Oak, Pecan, Hickory, and Mesquite Last week, we reviewed Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland. It received one of the highest ratings on TMBBQ, which…

BBQ |
July 16, 2014

Interview: Roy & Tim Hutchins of Hutchins BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Hutchins BBQ; Opened 1978 (current location 1991) Age: Roy 65, Tim 33 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Pecan and Oak Roy Hutchins started his family in the barbecue business in 1978 with a tiny smokehouse in Princeton, Texas. Since then his…

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July 9, 2014

Interview: Greg Gatlin of Gatlin’s BBQ

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Owner/Pitmaster: Gatlin’s BBQ; Opened 2010 Age: 34 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Hickory Greg Gatlin went from breaking up pass plays as a member of the Rice Owls to the world of corporate real estate, but he…

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July 2, 2014

Interview: Will Buckman of Corkscrew BBQ

Pitmaster: Corkscrew BBQ; Opened 2011 Age: 35 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Red Oak “If I’m not here, we’re closed.” That’s why Will Buckman doesn’t take many vacation days away from Corkscrew BBQ. The hours are long, which leaves just…

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June 25, 2014

Interview: Will Fleischman of Lockhart Smokehouse

Pitmaster: Lockhart Smokehouse, Plano; Opened 2014 Age: 42 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak Will Fleischman has tattoos and steel hoops in his ears, but his most distinguishing feature is the beard. He’s hard to miss when behind the counter slicing, but…

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June 18, 2014

Interview: Lance Kirkpatrick of Stiles Switch BBQ

Pitmaster: Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew; Opened 2011 Age: 44 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Post Oak Lance Kirkpatrick didn’t grow up cooking barbecue. He didn’t come from a long line of barbecue cooks, but at the age of thirty-one he answered the…

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June 11, 2014

Interview: Steve Kapchinskie of Martin’s Place

Owner/Pitmaster: Martin’s Place; Opened 1925 (current location 1939) Age: 57 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak A Kapchinskie has been cooking barbecue at Martin’s Place in Bryan, Texas since 1925. That makes it older than Black’s BBQ in…

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June 4, 2014

Interview: Kirby Hyden of Kirby’s Barbeque

Owner/Pitmaster: Kirby’s Barbeque; opened 1991 (2007 in current location) Age: 59 Smoker: Offset steel smokers Wood: Oak Until Anna Nicole Smith came along, the most famous area resident of Limestone County was Cynthia Ann Parker. She was abducted from Fort Parker at a…

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May 28, 2014

Interview: Joe Davidson of Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Cue

Owner/Pitmaster: Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Cue; Opened 2011 Age: 52 Smoker: Gas-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Pecan Joe Davidson has been involved in all aspects of the barbecue world. He became a successful entrepreneur when his smoker company got off the ground in the…

BBQ |
May 14, 2014

Interview: Tim Rattray of The Granary

Owner/Pitmaster/Chef: The Granary; Opened 2012 Age: 31 Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Live Oak  There isn’t another barbecue joint in Texas with as many menus to deal with as The Granary. They have a lunch menu with traditional barbecue items and a rotating…

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May 7, 2014

Interview: Nicole Davenport

Pitmaster: BBQ Pitmasters (2010), Sugar & Smoke (2012), Chopped (2012) Age: 43 I visited Sugar & Smoke restaurant in Fredericksburg in early 2012. That’s the first time I was introduced to Nicole Davenport. The menu was long, with only a few items of true barbecue. When…

BBQ |
April 30, 2014

Interview: Buzzie Hughes of Buzzie’s Bar-B-Q

Photo by Robert J. Lerma Owner/Pitmaster: Buzzie’s Bar-B-Q, opened 1993 (current location since 1997) Age: 54 Smoker: Wood-fired smoker Wood: Live Oak I had just started a phone conversation with Harold “Buzzie” Hughes. “Let her rip potato chip” was his way of getting our interview kicked off. Buzzie is a…

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April 23, 2014

Interview: Steve Olson of Hidden Canyon Farm

Steve Olson from one of many NAMP videos Owner: Hidden Canyon Farm in Lyons, New York Author: Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications (IMPS) If you’ve ever purchased a cut of meat then you’ve been impacted by IMPS. IMPS, or the Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications are the…

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April 16, 2014

Interview: Thomas Abramowicz of The Beast

Owner: The Beast: Maison Deviandes Fumees, opened 2014 Age: 31 Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie smoker (once it’s delivered) Wood: Oak I was in line for the bathroom at Hill Country BBQ Market in New York when a man who recognized me approached. He wanted to know if I could…

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April 9, 2014

Interview: John Raven PhB

Title: Commissioner of Barbecue, PhB Age: 76 “Allow me to introduce myself. I am John Raven. I am the individual who has done more for barbecue than anyone else.” Those were the first three sentences in a letter I received about a year ago. It was the first letter…

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April 2, 2014

Interview: J. D. Bost of Jasper’s Bar-B-Q

Pitmaster: Jasper’s Bar-B-Q, opened 1915 (or 1918) Age: 52 Smoker: Gas-fired rotisserie smoker Wood: Pecan and Oak About six weeks ago I sat down with J. D. Bost at Jasper’s Bar-B-Q in Waco. He’s the general manager of this nearly century-old barbecue restaurant on Elm Street started by an…

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March 26, 2014

Interview: Matt Hamilton of Local Yocal Market

Owner: Local Yocal Farm to Market in McKinney, opened 2010 Age: 37 Matt Hamilton grew up on a ranch in southern Oklahoma, but just a few years back he was using his college degree in the corporate world. It wasn’t until 2009 that he decided to go full bore into…

BBQ |
March 19, 2014

Interview: Ernestine Edmond of Mama E’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Mama E’s BBQ & Home Cooking, opened 2006 Age: 61 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smoker Wood: Pecan, Oak, Pear Ernestine Edmond has cooked most of her life. She learned about killing and processing chickens from her mother, and her mother-in-law taught her about cleaning a fresh hog. She’s never…

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March 12, 2014

Interview: Joe Riscky of Riscky’s Barbeque

Pitmaster: Riscky’s Barbeque; opened 1927 Age: 38 Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie smoker Wood: Post oak I sat down for lunch at the original location of Riscky’s Barbeque on Azle in Fort Worth. It sits just north of the Stockyards in a building from the fifties. Joe Riscky, great grandson to and…

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March 5, 2014

Interview: Kim Dunn of Pit Stop Bar-B-Q

Owner/Pitmaster: Pit Stop Bar-B-Q; opened 2006 (2010 in current location) Age: 58 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smoker Wood: Pecan Kim Dunn learned to cook in her native Korea before she left in 1978. She then got her training in Louisiana cuisine by working at Popeye’s before shifting over to Texas barbecue as an…

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February 26, 2014

Pitmaster Interview: Vencil Mares of Taylor Cafe

Owner/Pitmaster: Taylor Cafe; opened 1948 Age: 90 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smoker Wood: Post Oak Vencil Mares (pronounced like a group of female horses, not the planet) normally sits at the end of the bar just inside the side door of Taylor Cafe. For this interview we went into the only place in…

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February 19, 2014

Interview: Billy McDonald of Mac’s Bar-B-Que, Part II

Owner/Pitmaster: Mac’s Bar-B-Que; Opened 1955 (1982 in current location) Age: 60 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Hickory Billy McDonald is a second generation pitmaster at Mac’s Bar-B-Que in Dallas. Last week we ran the first part of the interview with Billy that featured his father’s career in barbecue. It…

BBQ |
February 12, 2014

Interview: Billy McDonald of Mac’s Bar-B-Que, Part I

Owner/Pitmaster: Mac’s Bar-B-Que; Opened 1955 (1982 in current location) Age: 60 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Hickory The McDonalds have been a fixture in the Dallas barbecue scene since 1949. Mac’s has moved around a bit, but Billy McDonald has no plans to leave his current spot on Main Street just outside…

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February 5, 2014

Interview: Bill and Francene Barton of Neely’s

Twins Francene and Geraldine Neely from the Neely’s Facebook page. Owners: Neely’s, opened 1927 Age: 66 Smoker: Wood-fired steel offset smoker Wood: Hickory Neely’s in Marshall, Texas is famous for being very old and for serving a Brown Pig sandwich. It’s by far their most popular menu item, but of course Bill wants…

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January 29, 2014

Interview: Allen Prine of Prine’s BBQ

A newspaper clipping on the wall at Prine’s BBQ of Allen Prine and his late father, Harry Prine Jr. Owner/Pitmaster: Prine’s Barbecue, opened 1925 Age: 61 Smoker: Wood-fired brick pit Wood: Oak Like many third generation pitmasters, Allen Prine was a reluctant one. He had grander plans than working…

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January 22, 2014

Interview: Bryan Bracewell of Southside Market

Photo courtesy of Southside Market Owner: Southside Market, opened 1886 Age: 38 Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie smokers and wood-fired brick pit Wood: Post Oak More than eight decades after it opened, Ernest Bracewell bought Southside Market in Elgin in 1968. Bryan Bracewell is the third generation of the Bracewell family to…

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January 15, 2014

Interview: Joe Capello of City Market in Luling

Pitmaster: City Market in Luling, opened 1958 Age: 67 Smoker: Wood-fired brick pit and a gas-fired rotisserie smoker Wood: Post Oak If you’ve been to City Market in Luling, chances are you’ve seen the hard-hat clad Joe Capello. If their doors are open, then he’s probably there working the pit like he’s done…

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January 8, 2014

Interview: Erik Mrok of Lenox Bar-B-Q

Owner: Lenox Bar-B-Q, opened 1946 Age: 56 Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie smokers Wood: Pecan and Oak Erik Mrok is mad, and with good reason. He took over a legendary barbecue joint in Houston that had been around for over fifty years. Just ten years later he had to watch a good portion of…

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December 24, 2013

Interview: Kent Black of Black’s BBQ

Photo provided by Black’s BBQ Pitmaster/Manager: Black’s BBQ, opened 1932 (current location since 1936) Age: 60 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokers and gas-fired rotisseries Wood: Post Oak Black’s BBQ is a family affair. After starting in 1932, they now have the fourth generation, Barrett Black, working at the restaurant. Three of those generations recently…

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December 18, 2013

Interview: Roy Perez of Kreuz Market

Pitmaster: Kreuz Market, opened 1900 (current location since 1999) Age: 51 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smoker Wood: Post Oak The following is reprinted from the January 2014 issue of Texas Monthly, and also includes additional material from the interview taken on October 5, 2013. Kreuz Market is the most famous name in the…

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December 11, 2013

Interview: Bob Allen of Bob’s Bar-B-Que

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Owner/Co-Pitmaster: Bob’s Bar-B-Que, opened 1980 Age: 74 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smoker Wood: Hickory Henderson, Texas is a small town of about 13,000 between Tyler and Nacogdoches in East Texas. This is where Bob Allen was born and raised, and where he aims to stay.

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November 27, 2013

Interview: Kathleen Mann of Mann’s Smokehouse BBQ

Kathleen Mann, from the company’s Facebook page Pitmaster: Mann’s Smokehouse BBQ, opened 1996 Age: 31 Smoker: Gas-Fired rotisserie smoker Wood: Pecan and Oak In a town that’s all about the meat, Mann’s in Austin boasts sixteen side items. It’s cut from a different cloth, which makes sense if…

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November 20, 2013

Interview: J&R Manufacturing

Owners: H.E. Finley and Mike Higgins Company: J&R Manufacturing, since 1974 Mike Higgins, a chemical engineer, and H. E Finley, a mechanical engineer, joined forces and families nearly forty years ago to start J&R Manufacturing. H. E. had just married Mike’s sister, and Mike had just started…

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November 13, 2013

Interview: Dirk Miller of Miller’s Smokehouse

Dirk Miller. Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Pitmaster: Miller’s Smokehouse, opened 2008 Age: 48 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smoker Wood: Oak Dirk Miller has never been this busy in his life. He called me from a van outside of his barbecue joint so nobody would bug him. He…

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November 6, 2013

Interview: Travis Mayes of Meshack’s Bar-Be-Que

Travis Mayes at his walk-up window. Pitmaster: Meshack’s Bar-Be-Que, opened 2009 Age: 64 Smoker: Wood-fired Brick Smoker w/ gas assist Wood: Pecan It was a Monday morning and Meshack’s was closed like normal. Travis and I had arranged this time to meet since the tasks to get ready for…

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October 30, 2013

Interview: Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88

Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hard Eight Pit BBQ “The further west I go, the more I seem to like the barbecue.” That’s a curious way for a native of North Carolina to start off a press conference, but NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. was just being honest. He doesn’t…

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October 23, 2013

Interview: Al Plaskoff of Big Al’s Smokehouse

Al, Lauran and Scott Owner: Big Al’s Smokehouse, Opened 1973 Age: 69 Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie Wood: Hickory I sat down with Al and his daughter Lauran Weiner to talk about the history of Big Al’s, the Plaskoff family and a little Dallas barbecue history. Al Plaskoff fell into the barbecue business. He…

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October 16, 2013

Interview: Roy Jeffrey of R&G Bar-B-Que

Owner/Pitmaster: R&G Bar-B-Que, opened 1990 Age: 69 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smoker Wood: Oak When Roy Jeffrey started working at the City Market in Luling back in 1954 he had a full head of black hair. At sixty-nine years of age it looks like he hasn’t lost a single one. When…

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October 9, 2013

Interview: Chad Decker of Hard Eight BBQ

Chad Decker. Photo from Hard 8 Facebook page General Manager: Hard Eight BBQ, opened 2003 Age: 40 Smoker: Wood-fired cookers and gas-fired rotisseries Wood: Mesquite Dale Earnhardt Jr. held a charity event at the Hard Eight BBQ location in Roanoke last week. I arrived early before the press conference and sat…

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October 2, 2013

Interview: Tyler Frazer of Tyler’s Barbeque

Photo c/o Tyler Frazer Pitmaster: Tyler’s Barbeque, opened 2010 Age: 45 Smoker: Wood-fired Cabinet Smoker Wood: Mesquite Tyler Frazer took a converted Long John Silvers and turned it into a unique Panhandle barbecue joint. The menu itself isn’t so unique. You’ll find all the barbecue standards, but it’s his methods that buck the…

BBQ |
September 25, 2013

Interview: Meat Baby Crew

Brian Patton This isn’t so much a pitmaster interview as it is a discussion with a few Europeans who hope to learn the ways of Texas barbecue. Brian Patton is from Dublin, but he operates restaurants in Vienna, Austria. He is in Texas on a barbecue pilgrimage…

BBQ |
September 18, 2013

Interview: Emilio Soliz of Two Bros. BBQ Market

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Pitmaster: Two Bros. BBQ Market, opened 2009 Age: 29 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Steel Smoker Wood: Oak The creation of Two Bros. BBQ Market doesn’t follow the usual narrative of a Texas barbecue joint. There was no backyard cook or barbecue competitor that had decided to open up a barbecue…