March 12, 2014

Interview: Joe Riscky of Riscky’s Barbeque

Pitmaster: Riscky’s Barbeque; opened 1927Age: 38Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie smokerWood: Post oakI 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 named after the founder

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: 58Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokerWood: PecanKim 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 owner of Colter’s BBQ

February 26, 2014

Pitmaster Interview: Vencil Mares of Taylor Cafe

Owner/Pitmaster: Taylor Cafe; opened 1948Age: 90Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokerWood: Post OakVencil 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 the restaurant with air conditioning

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: 60Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: HickoryBilly 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 wasn’t until they moved to

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: 60Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: HickoryThe 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 Deep Ellum. He sat

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 1927Age: 66Smoker: Wood-fired steel offset smokerWood: HickoryNeely’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 to remind you that people

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 1925Age: 61Smoker: Wood-fired brick pitWood: OakLike many third generation pitmasters, Allen Prine was a reluctant one. He had grander plans than working for dad, but now he

January 22, 2014

Interview: Bryan Bracewell of Southside Market

Photo courtesy of Southside MarketOwner: Southside Market, opened 1886Age: 38Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie smokers and wood-fired brick pitWood: Post OakMore 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 run the joint, but he

January 15, 2014

Interview: Joe Capello of City Market in Luling

Pitmaster: City Market in Luling, opened 1958Age: 67Smoker: Wood-fired brick pit and a gas-fired rotisserie smokerWood: Post OakIf 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 for the last few

January 8, 2014

Interview: Erik Mrok of Lenox Bar-B-Q

Owner: Lenox Bar-B-Q, opened 1946Age: 56Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie smokersWood: Pecan and OakErik 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 it get demolished to

December 24, 2013

Interview: Kent Black of Black’s BBQ

Photo provided by Black’s BBQPitmaster/Manager: Black’s BBQ, opened 1932 (current location since 1936)Age: 60Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokers and gas-fired rotisseriesWood: Post OakBlack’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 appeared together on

December 18, 2013

Interview: Roy Perez of Kreuz Market

Pitmaster: Kreuz Market, opened 1900 (current location since 1999)Age: 51Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokerWood: Post OakThe 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 most famous barbecue city in

December 11, 2013

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

Photo by Nicholas McWhirterOwner/Co-Pitmaster: Bob’s Bar-B-Que, opened 1980Age: 74Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokerWood: HickoryHenderson, 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 a lot of

November 27, 2013

Interview: Kathleen Mann of Mann’s Smokehouse BBQ

Kathleen Mann, from the company’s Facebook pagePitmaster: Mann’s Smokehouse BBQ, opened 1996Age: 31Smoker: Gas-Fired rotisserie smokerWood: Pecan and OakIn 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 you know that Jim and

November 20, 2013

Interview: J&R Manufacturing

Owners: H.E. Finley and Mike HigginsCompany: J&R Manufacturing, since 1974Mike 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 with the

November 13, 2013

Interview: Dirk Miller of Miller’s Smokehouse

Dirk Miller. Photo by Nicholas McWhirterPitmaster: Miller’s Smokehouse, opened 2008Age: 48Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokerWood: OakDirk 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 hasn’t taken a vacation in

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 2009Age: 64Smoker: Wood-fired Brick Smoker w/ gas assistWood: PecanIt 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 pretty slow-paced. There

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 much

October 23, 2013

Interview: Al Plaskoff of Big Al’s Smokehouse

Al, Lauran and ScottOwner: Big Al’s Smokehouse, Opened 1973Age: 69Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserieWood: HickoryI 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 wasn’t from a storied barbecue family,

October 16, 2013

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

Owner/Pitmaster: R&G Bar-B-Que, opened 1990Age: 69Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokerWood: OakWhen 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 I asked him how

October 9, 2013

Interview: Chad Decker of Hard Eight BBQ

Chad Decker. Photo from Hard 8 Facebook pageGeneral Manager: Hard Eight BBQ, opened 2003Age: 40Smoker: Wood-fired cookers and gas-fired rotisseriesWood: MesquiteDale 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 down with Chad Decker who

October 2, 2013

Interview: Tyler Frazer of Tyler’s Barbeque

Photo c/o Tyler FrazerPitmaster: Tyler’s Barbeque, opened 2010Age: 45Smoker: Wood-fired Cabinet SmokerWood: MesquiteTyler 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 standard way of doing things

September 25, 2013

Interview: Meat Baby Crew

Brian PattonThis 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 which

September 18, 2013

Interview: Emilio Soliz of Two Bros. BBQ Market

Photo by Nicholas McWhirterPitmaster: Two Bros. BBQ Market, opened 2009Age: 29Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Steel SmokerWood: OakThe 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 joint. Jason Dady

September 11, 2013

Interview: Jim McLennan of Hashknife on the Chisholm

Big Jim with his smoker. Photo by Nicholas McWhirterOwner/Pitmaster: Hashknife on the Chisholm, opened 2006Age: 51Smoker: Gas-fired Rotisserie SmokerWood: Oak and pecanJim 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 the place in 2005 he

September 4, 2013

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

Owner/Pitmaster: Pody’s BBQ, opened 2011Age: 38Smoker: Various indirect heat steel pitsWood: Post Oak, Cherry, Pecan, and MesquiteA 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 get him to stick

August 28, 2013

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

Photo by Nicholas McWhirterOwner/Pitmaster: Big Boys Bar-B-Que, opened 2000Age: 57Smoker: Direct heat steel pitsWood: MesquiteI’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. Eating in the car we

August 21, 2013

Interview: Kenny Hatfield of Hatfield’s Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: Hatfield’s BBQ, opened 2013Age: 53Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie pitWood: Oak and mesquiteNo 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 old and new joint.

August 7, 2013

Interview: David Longoria of Longoria’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Longoria’s BBQ, opened 1995Age: 50Smoker: Wood-fired lazy-susan style smokersWood: Post oak and pecanDavid 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 Jones. There are plenty of

July 31, 2013

Interview: Alan Caldwell of Fargo’s Pit BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Fargo’s Pit BBQ, opened 2000Age: 50Smoker: Wood-fired offset pitWood: Oak with a bit more mixed inAs 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 total I probably asked

July 24, 2013

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

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

July 17, 2013

Interview: John Lewis of La Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: La Barbecue; Opened 2012Age: 35Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: Post OakI 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, 4 2012. That’s a few

July 10, 2013

Interview: Stephen Joseph of Riverport Bar-B-Que

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Owner/Pitmaster: Riverport Bar-B-Que, opened in 1993Age: 45Smoker: A steel offset smokerWood: Post OakI 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 put on the meat he would

June 26, 2013

Interview: Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ

Pitmaster: Snow’s BBQ; opened in 2003.Age: 78Smoker: A steel smoker with an offset firebox for briskets, a direct heat pit for everything else.Wood: Post OakTootsie 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 the best barbecue

June 19, 2013

Interview: Kerry Bexley of Snow’s BBQ

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

June 12, 2013

Interview: Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue

Wayne MuellerOwner/Pitmaster: Louie Mueller Barbecue; opened in 1949Age: 47Smoker: Brick pit with an offset fireboxWood: Post OakI 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 a few times during the

June 5, 2013

Interview: Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge

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

May 29, 2013

Interview: Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue

Aaron FranklinOwner/Pitmaster: Franklin Barbecue in Austin; opened in 2009Age: 35Smoker: 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 the Blue Ox