Tom Perini

Interview: Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse

Jan 7, 2015 By Daniel Vaughn

Co-Owner: Perini Ranch Steakhouse; Opened 1983 Age: 71 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Mesquite Tom Perini cooks with mesquite. It might be in the form of coals for direct heat cooking, or the active flames of burning logs for grilling steaks. That mesquite also fuels an offset smoker for the…

Fried Chicken

Jan 21, 2013 By June Naylor

The Dish You can identify the smell with your eyes closed: The salty, intoxicating aroma of fried chicken can be mistaken for nothing else. And if you grew up in Texas a generation or more ago, you know the sound, because Sunday dawned with the certainty that around eleven…

Foodways Texas Is Getting Fat and Sassy

Mar 26, 2012 By Patricia Sharpe

Foodways Texas, which was founded in July 2010 “to preserve, promote, and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas," held its second annual symposium in Austin this past weekend. A couple of hundred participants listened to talks on the theme of “Texas Preserved”—a deliberately wide-ranging topic that covered cocktails, the drought, cattle, sugar plantations, heritage pigs, beer, shrimp boats, oysters, “trash fish,” and even mayhaw jelly. Attendees also ate, very, very well, from a brisket dinner catered by Austin ‘cue maestro John Mueller (with sides by Hoover’s Cooking) to the recreation of a Texas farm dinner circa 1840 at Boggy Creek Farm. The main course at the latter feast consisted of succulent grilled Red Wattle pigs (a heritage breed) provided by Revival Market in Houston; the chef for the occasion was Sonya Cote of Austin’s East Side Showroom and the brand new Hillside Farmacy. Here are four choice moments from the nearly two-dozen presentations at the symposium: "Two generations ago Texas housewives could buy sugar grown, refined, and packaged in Texas. The brand was Imperial, and it was downright disloyal to buy anything else. But gradually the thriving Texas sugar cane industry collapsed. The cause of its slow death was a perfect storm of cane disease, bad weather, and cheap sugar from other countries, to name just three reasons. But today, sugar cane may be making a comeback in the Rio Grande Valley. Could Texas once again become a sugar belt—or sugar bowl?" - MM Pack, food writer and culinary historian, Austin, speaking on “A Short but Not Always Sweet History of Sugar in Texas.”

Ten Years After: Tom Perini’s 9/11 at the White House

Sep 9, 2011 By Jason Cohen

(The famous Perini Ranch mesquite-smoked peppered beef tenderloin. Photo by Pat Sharpe) Editor's Note: This guest post is by longtime Texan Jim Shahin, now a resident of Washington, D.C.... and "craving Central Texas barbecue almost every minute of every day," he says. The "Smoke Signals" columnist for the Washingon Post, Shahin was also a contributor to our 1997 barbecue Top 50. Ten years ago this month, Tom Perini arrived in Washington D.C., from his ranch in Buffalo Gap, Texas, proud to be catering the annual Congressional Picnic at the White House. The event was a huge deal for the Texas cowboy who started his career in 1973 as a chuck wagon cook for hungry ranch hands. In 1983, he had opened Perini Ranch Steakhouse, which developed a reputation for excellence far beyond Buffalo Gap, a town of about 400 outside Abilene. Academy Award-winner Robert Duvall had found his way to the remote restaurant, as had Billy Bob Thornton, who told Men’s Journal that Perini’s smoked brisket was the best he ever ate. Perini’s culinary fame eventually reached the Texas governor’s mansion, where he regularly catered barbecues for George W. Bush. “When he ran for president, I remember fantasizing about cooking at the White House,” recalls Perini. In May 2001, he got his chance when President Bush asked Perini to cater the 2001 Congressional Picnic in the fall. The gala would be a Texas-themed, and Texas-sized, party that would feature country music’s Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel. In June, Perini arrived in Washington to work out details with White House chefs. “I told them we were going to have bread pudding, green chile hominy, Southern green beans and beef tenderloin,” Perini, 68, recalls. “And the chef from the White House said, ‘You’re in Washington, and you have to cook chicken.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I’m not serving chicken.’ “The room got real quiet. ‘When you are serving a Texas chuck wagon meal, you serve beef.’ I said, ‘If you want another meat, I’ll do catfish.’” After some discussion, and a later conversation with the president himself, the entrees were set: mesquite-smoked peppered tenderloin and fried catfish.

Watch Texas’s Own Tom Perini on “Today” Show This Thursday

Jul 7, 2009 By Patricia Sharpe

Barring some major national news, like peace breaking out or another Michael Jackson will being found, Tom Perini is scheduled to be cooking up one of his nationally renowned hambugers on the “Today” show, this Thursday, during the 8:30 a.m. time segment. The fantastic mesquite-grilled burgers got accolades from the…