Interviews

Interview: Joe Riscky of Riscky’s Barbeque

Mar 12, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Mar 5, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Pitmaster Interview: Vencil Mares of Taylor Cafe

Feb 26, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Feb 19, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Feb 12, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Bill and Francene Barton of Neely’s

Feb 5, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Allen Prine of Prine’s BBQ

Jan 29, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Bryan Bracewell of Southside Market

Jan 22, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Joe Capello of City Market in Luling

Jan 15, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Erik Mrok of Lenox Bar-B-Q

Jan 8, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Kent Black of Black’s BBQ

Dec 24, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Roy Perez of Kreuz Market

Dec 18, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Dec 11, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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. He’s seen…

Interview: Kathleen Mann of Mann’s Smokehouse BBQ

Nov 27, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: J&R Manufacturing

Nov 20, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Dirk Miller of Miller’s Smokehouse

Nov 13, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Nov 6, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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 Tuesday were…

Interview: Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88

Oct 30, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Al Plaskoff of Big Al’s Smokehouse

Oct 23, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

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

Oct 16, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Chad Decker of Hard Eight BBQ

Oct 9, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Tyler Frazer of Tyler’s Barbeque

Oct 2, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Meat Baby Crew

Sep 25, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Emilio Soliz of Two Bros. BBQ Market

Sep 18, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Interview: Jim McLennan of Hashknife on the Chisholm

Sep 11, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Big Jim with his smoker. Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Owner/Pitmaster: Hashknife on the Chisholm, opened 2006 Age: 51 Smoker: Gas-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Oak and pecan Jim McLennan and his wife have run a barbecue joint at the southwest corner of highways 281 and 284 for over a decade. Shortly after he bought…

Interview: Israel “Pody” Campos of Pody’s BBQ

Sep 4, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Owner/Pitmaster: Pody’s BBQ, opened 2011 Age: 38 Smoker: Various indirect heat steel pits Wood: Post Oak, Cherry, Pecan, and Mesquite A few weeks back someone tweeted to me that they’d spotted Israel “Pody” Campos in line at Pecan Lodge in Dallas. That’s a long way from his home in Pecos. I tried to…

Interview: Gaylan Marth of Big Boys Bar-B-Que

Aug 28, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Owner/Pitmaster: Big Boys Bar-B-Que, opened 2000 Age: 57 Smoker: Direct heat steel pits Wood: Mesquite I’ve been out to Sweetwater twice for Gaylan Marth’s barbecue at Big Boys. The first time I was with my wife and kids. They stayed in the car while I got a to-go order.

Interview: Kenny Hatfield of Hatfield’s Barbecue

Aug 21, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Owner/Pitmaster: Hatfield’s BBQ, opened 2013 Age: 53 Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie pit Wood: Oak and mesquite No sooner had we put the original Hatfield’s BBQ in the Top 50, than a disagreement between partners meant he was out of the business. We wrote about the controversy while Kenny was still between the…

Interview: Mr. Bewley of A. N. Bewley Fabricators

Aug 14, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Photo by Jeff Bergus This is an extended version of an interview with Mr. Bewley that ran in the New York Times on August 4th. I visited with Mr. Bewley in his house along with his daughter Rhonda and her husband Larry Lewis who now runs…

Interview: David Longoria of Longoria’s BBQ

Aug 7, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Owner/Pitmaster: Longoria’s BBQ, opened 1995 Age: 50 Smoker: Wood-fired lazy-susan style smokers Wood: Post oak and pecan David Longoria runs a joint started by his parents in a small town just south of Fort Worth. On the other side of town is Hickory Stick Barbecue which is owned and operated by Mark…

Interview: Alan Caldwell of Fargo’s Pit BBQ

Jul 31, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Owner/Pitmaster: Fargo’s Pit BBQ, opened 2000 Age: 50 Smoker: Wood-fired offset pit Wood: Oak with a bit more mixed in As we sat at a table inside Fargo’s Pit BBQ in Bryan, I asked owner and pitmaster Alan Caldwell if I could see his pit. He said no. In…

Pitmaster Interview: Nick Pencis of Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue

Jul 24, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Owner: Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue since 2006 Age: 36 Smoker: Gas-fired rotisserie for ribs, offset wood-fired smoker for everything else. Wood: Pecan Nick Pencis was once the pitmaster at Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue in Tyler. He tried his best, but knew he had a real…

Interview: John Lewis of La Barbecue

Jul 17, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Owner/Pitmaster: La Barbecue; Opened 2012 Age: 35 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Post Oak I talked to John Lewis over the phone while he was making preparations at La Barbecue to open up the following day. John Lewis became the pitmaster at La Barbecue on November,…

Interview: Stephen Joseph of Riverport Bar-B-Que

Jul 10, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Owner/Pitmaster: Riverport Bar-B-Que, opened in 1993 Age: 45 Smoker: A steel offset smoker Wood: Post Oak I called Stephen Joseph in the late afternoon while he watched over his pit. He was trying to get it up to temperature so he could…

Interview: Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ

Jun 26, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Pitmaster: Snow’s BBQ; opened in 2003. Age: 78 Smoker: A steel smoker with an offset firebox for briskets, a direct heat pit for everything else. Wood: Post Oak Tootsie took her lunch break to talk with me while working her day job with the Giddings school district. After Texas Monthly named Snow’s BBQ…

Interview: Kerry Bexley of Snow’s BBQ

Jun 19, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Kerry Bexley (center) at the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival Owner/Pitmaster: Snow’s BBQ; opened in 2003. Age: 46 Smoker: A steel smoker with an offset firebox for briskets, a direct heat pit for everything else. Wood: Post Oak It was Friday afternoon and Kerry was getting ready to start the…

Interview: Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue

Jun 12, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Wayne Mueller Owner/Pitmaster: Louie Mueller Barbecue; opened in 1949 Age: 47 Smoker: Brick pit with an offset firebox Wood: Post Oak I had intentions of talking to Wayne for this interview while we were both attending the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in New York. We talked…

Interview: Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge

Jun 5, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Justin Fourton Owner/Pitmaster: Pecan Lodge; opened in 2010 Age: 37 Smoker:  Steel smoker with an offset firebox Wood: Mesquite and Oak I called Justin Fourton on his day off to set up this interview. His voice mail was full. He is a man in demand,…

Interview: Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue

May 29, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Aaron Franklin Owner/Pitmaster: Franklin Barbecue in Austin; opened in 2009 Age: 35 Smoker: Five steel offset smokers made from 1000 gallon propane tanks that are 5/16” thick. Wood: Post oak. Some seasoned, some green. Last week, I sat down with Aaron Franklin over a tray of ribs and brisket at…