Monk: Writer/director/producer Jon Favreau caught the food bug while filming his movie “Chef” (in which Aaron Franklin had a cameo) and has turned that into the travel/food docuseries “The Chef Show” where he explores the county with Los Angeles food truck godfather Roy Choi (who was a producer as well was the inspiration for the movie). In a couple of episodes from season 1, Jon and Roy stop in Austin to spend time with Aaron Franklin before checking out the Hot Luck Festival (which I’ll recap next week).
The episode starts with the three of them meeting up for breakfast tacos at the Pueblo Viejo taco truck. There, Favreau gets a brief history from Franklin on the start of Franklin Barbecue from the tiny first trailer in 2009 where he was on the forefront of the craft barbecue movement in Austin and ultimately the US. While Franklin’s briskets weren’t quite at the current level when they first opened, it was through the repetition of smoking briskets every day no matter the weather or greenness of the wood that Franklin got the briskets to be of a consistent quality. Roy and Aaron compared notes from the early days (and simpler times) of their respective food trucks, and how they eventually learned to embrace the hours-long lines of people and the possibility of disappointing them.
The middle segment focuses on Favreau prepping a brisket in the kitchen at Franklin Barbecue, getting tips along the way. Favreau also tells the brief story of smoking a brisket and flying with it cross-country to meet Bill Murray to convince him to do The Jungle Book. Then, Franklin shows Favreau how he would trim his brisket (14:54). For those without a Master Class subscription to watch Aaron Franklin run through his brisket process step by step, I would imagine they would want to study this segment very carefully.
Then, Favreau and Franklin season their briskets (18:59) with Franklin’s half and half rub of Morton’s Kosher salt and 16 mesh black pepper, which they age. Franklin is careful not to waste too much pepper, as he apparently accidentally throws away $200 per week (!!) in pepper from the side of the board. From there, the briskets are off to the smoker.
The final part of the episode is Favreau slicing for customers in line at Franklin (though no orders are being taken and it looks to be not during a regular service since each customer just gets a slice of brisket on white bread). Franklin is of course there to give him tips on his slicing, from using the thumb as a guide to making sure not to twist his wrist during the action of slicing.
In this episode of “The Chef Show”, Favreau brings a fan and backyard smoker’s perspective to Franklin Barbecue (albeit, a backyard smoker who happens to be a big Hollywood player and has Aaron Franklin on speed dial). Choi is less a part of the show and somewhat relegates himself to the background with not much from him after the initial segment on the humble beginnings of his food truck. Though he does get a little more run in the next episode where he is cooking his short ribs at the Hot Luck festival. Franklin himself is great on camera, and his personality shines through. All in all, the 26 minute episode breezes by very quickly and is worth checking out for any barbecue fan with a Netflix account.