For the first half of this podcast, Aaron Franklin sits down for a cordial interview about steak and his recent cookbook Franklin Steak. While the conversation is not specifically about barbecue, brisket does get weaved into it several times during the discussion by Franklin. Check it out to hear his thoughtful discussion on live fire cooking as well as a tip on how long in advance to salt a steak.
In this conversation, Dave Chang focuses on how Franklin has become a shokunin, or master craftsman, for barbecue. In addition to the usual barbecue talk, Chang also asks Franklin a lot of questions about the hospitality that Franklin shows everyone that comes to Franklin Barbecue and how hard it was for him to step away from being in the restaurant almost 22 hours day.
In 2009, when Aaron Franklin and his wife, Stacy, opened up a barbecue trailer on the side of a highway in Austin, Texas, they had no idea it would snowball into one of the most popular barbecue restaurants in the nation. But Franklin Barbecue wouldn’t have become what it is without Aaron’s unwavering commitment to hard work and dedication. A decade removed from the Austin institution’s humble beginnings, Dave speaks with the world-class pitmaster from the Uber Eats House during SXSW about transfusing love and care into cooking, making an intentional effort to maintain work-life balance, and growing the restaurant through failure.
Not that we’re anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books.
Texas photographer Wyatt McSpadden released a barbecue photo book just 9 years before this book, in 2009. So why a new book now? Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, a lot has happened in the world of barbecue in the past 10 years, particularly in Texas. In 2013, Texas Monthly hired a full-time barbecue editor in Daniel Vaughn (who lends McSpadden an essay for this book). Also, a little joint opened up in Austin just months after that first book’s release, and it changed everything. You may have heard of it – Franklin Barbecue. So yeah, there is quite a bit more ground to cover.
Now I haven’t yet read the first book (though its now at the top of my shortlist of barbecue books), but I get the impression that its very similar in nature. In “Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown,” Wyatt’s fantastic photography is front and center, of course and beautifully laid out by his wife Nancy McMillan.
Wyatt does write about a handful of joints that mean a great deal to him, from joints that remind him of the joints he went to growing up in Amarillo (like Prause Meat Market in xxx) to legendary places where he tasted his first transcendent bites of barbecue (Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor).
Wyatt’s passion is evident in those words as well as his gorgeous photography. He was there to document the rise of Aaron Franklin and Franklin Barbecue (Franklin provides the foreword, pictured above) and more than most, has criss-crossed the state for nearly 30 years, documenting every weathered nook and smoke-encrusted cranny. “Texas BBQ: From Small Town to Downtown” is an essential barbecue book to add to your collection. I will say, North Carolina barbecue needs it’s own iteration of this book, and what a dream job that would be.
Available wherever you buy books. Official description:
In Texas BBQ, Wyatt McSpadden immortalized the barbecue joints of rural Texas in richly authentic photographs that made the people and places in his images appear as timeless as barbecue itself. The book found a wide, appreciative audience as barbecue surged to national popularity with the success of young urban pitmasters such as Austin’s Aaron Franklin, whose Franklin Barbecue has become the most-talked-about BBQ joint on the planet. Succulent, wood-smoked “old school” barbecue is now as easy to find in Dallas as in DeSoto, in Houston as in Hallettsville. In Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown, Wyatt McSpadden pays homage to this new urban barbecue scene, as well as to top-rated country joints, such as Snow’s in Lexington, that were under the radar or off the map when Texas BBQwas published.
Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown presents crave-inducing images of both the new—and the old—barbecue universe in almost every corner of the state, featuring some two dozen joints not included in the first book. In addition to Franklin and Snow’s, which have both occupied the top spot in Texas Monthly’s barbecue ratings, McSpadden portrays urban joints such as Dallas’s Pecan Lodge and Cattleack Barbecue and small-town favorites such as Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que in Marlin. Accompanying his images are barbecue reflections by James Beard Award–winning pitmaster Aaron Franklin and Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn. Their words and McSpadden’s photographs underscore how much has changed—and how much remains the same—since Texas BBQrevealed just how much good, old-fashioned ’cue there is in Texas.
The Hot Luck Festival was started by Aaron Franklin, Mike Thelin (co-founder of Feast Portland), and James Moody (owner of Austin’s Mohawk), and this year’s edition took place in Austin over Memorial Day Weekend. Farideh Sedeghin of America’s Test Kitchen gives you the lowdown in this video.
Join MUNCHIES Test Kitchen Director Farideh Sadeghin as she eats her way through Austin, Texas’ Hotluck music and food festival. This casual event is a hodgepodge of everything locals and visitors alike love about the city—good music, fun people, and the best barbeque known to man.
Fans can hop on the BBQ express for less than $100 a person and travel through spectacular mountain views. Passengers onboard will get their own basket of Southern-style barbeque goodness with hand-pulled pork slider, a couple pork ribs, and chicken drumstick accompanied by baked beans and house-made coleslaw.
And, of course, no respectable Southern barbeque would forget to warm up some apple cobbler for dessert.
– Speaking of Texas barbecue, if actor Ike Barinholtz didn’t know about Barbecue Twitter before, he sure does now (click on tweet to read the literally hundreds of replies)
BBQ restaurant: Here is your platter of hand trimmed, slowly smoked meat with a sauce that took us 24 hours to make based off a secret family recipe and it is served with some untoasted slices of shitty off-brand white bread we got at the 99 cent store
– The Y’All Sauce Co. out of Winston-Salem is a new line of barbecue sauces inspired by Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi; sauces from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana are in development
“I don’t really know. I don’t eat barbecue,” he says. I laugh nervously, but Franklin doesn’t waver. “I don’t eat that stuff, but I love to cook it. If I’m in a special place like up in the Carolinas hanging out with Sam Jones (whose family has been in the BBQ biz for more than 70 years), I’m absolutely going to get a pork sandwich. If I’m hanging out with Rodney Scott (a world-renowned BBQ chef from Charleston), I’m absolutely going to get some of that pulled pork. Time and place, but as far as scenes and stuff, I don’t really keep up with it. My concentration is right here.”
– Tarheel Q gets a write up in the Lexington Dispatch after changing owners last December
Leon said there is some pressure with running a barbecue restaurant in Davidson County due to the county’s barbecue reputation. He added that if the restaurant does a poor job, it not only reflects on the restaurant but the other restaurants as well, because Lexington barbecue is a style and one restaurant’s success means success for the others in the county.
Based on 1M+ reviews from 85 different publications, the award recognizes the best restaurants around the world. TripExpert takes a new approach to ratings by using only professional reviews from travel guides, magazines, newspapers and other respected sources.
– A few barbecue joints gets covered in this Alabama tourism video – BBQ on the Blvd in Florence and Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur
There is SO much to see and do in North Alabama, so we put together the ultimate road trip across this beautiful part of the state. Let’s go! 🚗 pic.twitter.com/0B16gfuqpA
– An Austin rag “takes the temperature” of the barbecue scene in Brooklyn and with one exception finds that it doesn’t quite add up to Austin
– Everyone has a dark past, and NC barbecue is certainly no different; it had a beef phase
NC BBQ hasn’t always been pork-centric. Dale Volberg Reed turned up this great clip from Rockingham NC in 1919 (Her husband John Shelton Reed notes it’s from “before we got hogmatic”) pic.twitter.com/PKZKPvjApq