Saturday, December 4, 2010

An instant classic: Texas Monthly BBQ Festival...

By David Gelin

Tell a Texan about a competition that will determine the best barbecue joint in the world and you will get an insincere, “That’s nice.” Tell that same person that Texas Monthly Magazine will invite all the best Texas joints together, open it up to the public and let them decide and you will get a stampede.

The Texas Monthly BBQ Festival was held on the patio of the Long Center in Austin. Those 918 lucky (and quick) enough to get a $15 ticket to the bash (tickets were snatched up in one day and were reselling for upwards of $200 on Craig’s List) got to sample and vote for who they thought was the best. Among the field were such heavy hitters as Smitty’s Market, Louie Mueller’s and Kreuz Market.

Since the early 70’s, the most anticipated Texas Monthly edition has been the semi-decade top 50 barbecue issue. In a state where barbecue is serious business, inclusion on that list is very, very good for, as they say “bitness.”

If your ‘que finds its way to the top of the heap, then the eyes of Texas will be firmly affixed upon you (which sets off a reaction of tongues awagg’n and teeth achew’n) as was the case with tiny Snow’s of Lexington in the last barbecue issue in ‘08 who held that coveted top position.

Food editor, Pat Sharpe, recalls the meeting when they were discussing hosting an event. “We were thinking of a Freetoe pie cook-off. Then someone mentioned how about a barbecue cook-off? A resounding ‘Duh’ swept across the room.” The first (and surly annual) Texas Monthly BBQ Festival was on its way to becoming a reality.

Being held in Austin, it was a given that there would be some first rate live music. There were also cooking demonstrations, but make no mistake, the belle of the ball was the barbecue.

Just in case you were wondering how the editors of Texas Monthly’s darling, Snow’s stacked up with the paying guests/judges. They were everything advertised, taking home a tie for best brisket with Buzzy’s of Kerrville. Other winners were Stanley’s Famous of Tyler in Pork Ribs and the biggest winner was Cousin’s of Fort Worth who took home best beef ribs and sausage.

Photo courtesy of David Gelin

David Gelin is the author of the book BBQ Joint, Stories and Secret Recipes from the Barbecue Belt. He and canine co-author, Buddy, are currently on the barbecue trail finding new joints. They feel that they are only telling half the story, hence they are gathering the other half of the story, not joints, but people with day jobs. If you would like to nominate someone as a future BBQ Person, send a brief description to

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