When you meet Brett Boren of Brett’s Backyard BBQ, you quickly realize that he’s broken down the craft of barbecue to a science. You’d swear he’d been wielding tongs for as long as he’d known how to use a pencil. But Brett in fact didn’t grow up around barbecue until he was in middle school, “In grade eight, I moved to Central Texas and just fell in love with barbecue. Not only did I love the food, but I loved the community aspect of it as well.” This carried on throughout college and when he started his career at Dell, he spent every weekend around barbecue. Brett explained, “I didn’t ever relax on the weekend, I barbecued. I started competing as much as possible and when I wasn’t competing, I was doing weddings or other events.”
He’s tried every method and type of protein you can imagine. He’s won competitions and also lost some. And when you make your way around the circuit like this, you get to know your community. “There’s really no other kind of food community like it. We compete with one another, we support one another, we share our ideas and our techniques, and we love to try each other’s food. There’s nothing better,” Brett says. It seems his fellow pitmasters tend to agree and support in-kind. Last November, Brett hosted 42 of the leading pitmasters in Texas at Brett Fest and it was a roaring success. Not every pitmaster can convince the best of the best to come to their joint to serve their recipes. But Brett seems to inspire them easily (maybe it’s the barbecue competition street cred), but we think it’s that good people attract good community.
This also seems to be true of the Rockdale community where Brett chose to set up The Backyard. “There’s just really good, hard-working people here and I believe this town is growing. I want The Backyard to be a home-away-from-home. A place where friends and family come to meet up with their kids and their dogs and just have a good time,” and that truly is the atmosphere Brett has created. People don’t just come by for the great barbecue, they also come to listen to local musicians, visit with their neighbors, and visit with Brett.
You’re just as likely to find Brett serving the food as you are visiting with his guests. He’s got a pulse on the town and it isn’t just from owning a barbecue joint. As a member of City Council—and depending on how elections turn out this Spring, maybe the next Mayor of Rockdale—Brett has a unique view of the community and a real impact on its economic growth. He’s supported various youth programs and cattle showings, not to mention his contributions during the huge snowstorm of 2021 that left Texas in the dark. Brett cooked up everything he had at the restaurant, recorded a video for social media, and served it to the public for free. “We had a trail of 300 cars at one point and people in the community just kept bringing stuff by to contribute. The community rallied and got volunteers to bring food to elderly folks who struggled to get the basics.” Brett said. So, although The Backyard has only been around for just over three years, it’s already an important part of the Rockdale community and Brett hopes they can continue to grow together in the future.
And while we’re on the subject of longevity, it’s worth noting that with only three years in business, it’s pretty phenomenal to make the Top 50 Texas Monthly BBQ Joints List already which Brett’s Backyard BBQ accomplished this past November. Perhaps this isn’t surprising given Brett’s experience with competition BBQ but running a successful business and making great BBQ are two separate things. You have to keep people coming back and that means you have to serve great barbecue, consistently. This equation starts with having an amazing team you can rely on no matter what. Brett’s right-hand pitmaster, Braden Wallis, has great BBQ instinct and is showing a lot of promise as a rising pitmaster on the scene.
And we can’t leave out the back-of-house staff, Kenna and Kaely Jenkins, who inspect, cut, prep and serve guests with poise and patience. But you also need a great foundation for your barbecue, which is your fire. Brett says, “You need to know your fire and the wood you’re using. Next, great product. Since switching to Goodstock briskets, we’ve seen a noticeable difference in the quality of the beef. From there,” Brett explains, “patience, is key.” And although Brett didn’t include this in his list, we’re fairly confident the custom smoker he designed with legendary pit-builder Sunny Moberg to optimize both direct and indirect heat cooking plays a key role in his great barbecue. It’s a masterpiece of a smoker and worth your time to check out next time you swing by.
So, in case there was any question, Brett’s Backyard BBQ really can be your home-away-from-home. We recommend you make a special trip out to see for yourself what it’s like to be part of a small, tight-knit community with a big heart. For updates, check out Brett’s Backyard Bar-B-Que on Facebook, and for more information on their quality meats, visit goodstocktx.com.