Editor’s Note: The Texas Monthly BBQ Festival is almost here! Each day until then, we’ll be talking to one of the featured pitmasters, with questions from TM staffers, esteemed BBQ experts, Twitter followers and you, the readers of this blog. Today we bring you Joe Duncan, 61, of Baker’s Ribs in Dallas, Garland, Mesquite, Rowlett, Greenville, Canton, Houston, Weatherford, Rowlett, and even Eden Prairie, Minnesota. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com.

Photo courtesy Daniel Vaughn

What is your heat source? Hickory wood. Who did you learn your craft from? I did an internship with Roland Lindsey but I taught myself quite a few things. I just learned some smoking techniques and what not there. What’s your signature meat? Well, obviously ribs. You know what the name of my restaurant is right? Sauce or no sauce? It comes on the side. I prefer no sauce though. I don’t think BBQ that’s prepared properly needs any sauce but some people just love BBQ sauce and that’s just a matter of personal preference. Slow and low or high and faster? Slow and low. We try to maintain 250 degrees. What non-secret ingredients are in your spice rub? Sugar. What’s your favorite barbeque in Texas other than your own? Right now I’ll have to give it to Cousin’s. I like their brisket. Do you start a new fire everyday or keep the same one going? We’ve got an eternal flame. What should the home smoker look for when picking out a side of brisket from the market? They need a piece of meat that’s graded at least choice with plenty of fat on it and they need a good technique. What’s the one other piece of advice you’d give to someone smoking a brisket at home? Try to maintain a constant temperature. Be patient. Do you use or have you considered using a gas- or electric-fired smoker, such as a Southern Pride, Ole Hickory, or J&R, for any of your meats? No. I don’t see the need to, number one, and I just like to cook with wood. Its truly authentic then. Ever have any Texas barbecue outside of Texas? What did you think? Why yes I have. There’s regional differences. If you go east of Mississippi then you’re gonna eat a lot of pork with vinegar based sauces, and in Texas you’re gonna have a lot of beef with tomato based sauces. There’s something good about all of it. How many pounds of meat do you smoke in a week? 30,000 or something. I’m not sure. A lot. (Questions by Jason Cohen, Andrea Valdez, Pat Sharpe, Katy Vine, Sonia Smith, Daniel VaughnJim ShahinJ.C. Reid@stewlevine&@JoePerryinTX.)