Friday Find: The Barbacoa Queen of Los Angeles

Monk: Barbakush is a story of hard work paying off, and this short documentary from Munchies’ Street Food Icons captures it beautifully. Petra Zavaleta and her husband and two sons started their street food and catering business in LA after feeling they weren’t getting paid enough in their previous jobs. Taking matters into their own hands, they began butchering and cooking whole lambs in their backyard in the traditional Poblano barbacoa method passed down from their parents and grandparents. But it took some time and failures before they built up a market for their food, which includes tacos made from homemade tortillas as well as consommé and lamb menudo made from all parts of the goat after being cooked over wood and maguey leaves coals in an underground oven. From the looks of it, it seems like the local community is certainly appreciative of Barbakush and shows up for them.

Description: Petra Zavaleta is the chef behind Barbakush, a street food operation that serves traditional lamb barbacoa in Los Angeles, by way of Puebla, Mexico. Petra, her husband, and her sons work together to create their lamb barbacoa, which is a true labor of love. They break down an entire lamb and build a traditional underground barbecue oven in their backyard. They serve their barbacoa on hand-made tortillas, and use every part of the lamb to create more dishes like consommé and lamb menudo. Petra, who learned this ancient method of butchering and barbecuing from her childhood in Puebla, is driven to succeed by doing things her own way. The goal of Barbakush is to bring this Poblano method of cooking to new horizons in LA.

The Best Barbecue Shows on Streaming

Monk: This holiday while we’re all stuck at home bunkering down until the COVID-19 vaccine is widely distributed, why not watch some barbecue-focused TV shows to take your mind off things?

This will be our last post of the year, so we will see you in 2021!

Suggested Order of Viewing

  1. The American Barbecue Showdown (Netflix)
  2. BBQuest (Hulu)
  3. Chef’s Table: BBQ (Netflix)
  4. The Chef Show S1V1E8, S1V1E9 (Netflix)
  5. Cooked S1E1 (Netflix)

This post is updated as of December 2020

Netflix

New: The American Barbecue Showdown (8 episodes)

The American BBQ Showdown is more “Great British Bakeoff” than “Chopped” or “Top Chef,” with 8 amateur or competition barbecue pitmaster competing against each other in different meat competitions. Filmed outside of Atlanta in pre-pandemic times, it provided a welcome distraction for barbecue fans this past fall.

The Chef Show Season 1 – Volume 1 Episode 7 – “Franklin”; S1V1E8 – “Hot Luck”

Hollywood mega writer/director/producer/actor Jon Favreau and LA Food Truck godfather Roy Choi spend two episodes with Aaron Franklin at Franklin Barbecue, first learning about his approach to brisket (S1E7) before participating in Franklin’s inaugural Hot Luck Festival in 2017 (S1E8). Check out our AV Club recap here and here)

New: Chef’s Table: BBQ (4 episodes)

This barbecue and live-fire cooking edition of the Chef’s Table series profiles 4 pitmasters or live-fire cooking chefs, with the Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s Barbecue and Rodney Scott episodes being the highlight for American barbecue fans.

Cooked S1E1 – “Fire” (52 mins)

In this first episode of the miniseries on food, food author Michael Pollan goes in search of primordial cooking and finds it in eastern North Carolina and Ed Mitchell. The episode follows Ed and his son Ryan as they pick out a pig from the butcher shop, get the coals started, and then proceed to smoke a whole hog for a small gathering at the end of the episode. Michael and a couple of buddies even try to emulate it on their own in a small, backyard pit in California. Ed also tells a story of how he learned to cook pigs from his grandfather, a former slave. The barbecue section starts at approximately 26:00.

Queer Eye S3E3 – “Jones Bar-B-Q” (47 mins)

This episode of Queer Eye helped make the Jones Bar-B-Q sisters – Little and Shorty – international barbecue celebrities when it aired earlier in 2019, but they have been doing barbecue in Kansas City for decades. Their sauce with the redesigned label courtesy of the Queer Eye crew is now a huge seller, with the website prominently displaying a banner reading “Please allow a 7-10 day delay in shipping as we have been overwhelmed at the response and will send your order as soon as we can.” From the looks of the episode, it appears that the newly found fame is well-deserved.

Street Food: Asia S1E9 – “Cebu, Philippines” (31 mins)

In the Philippines lechon, or whole roasted pig, is the preferred form of barbecue in this nation of over 7,000 islands. In this food custom, a smaller suckling pig is tied around a pole and rotated over a live fire for hours. This episode covers lechon in addition to a few other food customs from the city of Cebu in southern Philippines.

Taco Chronicles S1E5 – “Barbacoa” (31 mins)

The Taco Chronicles is a Spanish-language food series where each episode focuses on a different type of taco. The “Barbacoa” episode focuses on the lamb/goat form of barbecue primarily located in Mexico and the southern border of Texas, which I’ve never tasted myself but is described on the episode as being “softer than the tortilla it is served on.”

Ugly Delicious S1E5 – “BBQ” (47 mins)

In episode 5 of season one of Chef David Chang’s Netflix series, he covered barbecue as well as other live fire customs across the world. Check out our AV club recap here.

Hulu

BBQuest (2 seasons)

Across two four-episode seasons of the travel show co-produced by the Texas Beef Council, host and native Texan Kelsey Pribilski criss-crosses Texas to meet with some of the best pitmasters in the state. She’s in search of the state’s best barbecue as well as secret barbecue menu items. The first season gets the large cities (Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth) out of the way, while season two is able to tackle more remote locales. Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn even makes an appearance as Kelsey’s guide for the Big Bend episode (S2E1).

Eat, Sleep, BBQ (4 episodes)

Official Description: “Rashad Jones embarks on a road trip to meet people who share his
passion for barbecue.”

Prime Video

Bama-Q (3 seasons)

“Bama-Q” follows members of the Alabama Barbecue Association through competitions (similar to the first season of “BBQ Pitmasters”)

Faith, Hope and BBQ (57 mins)

Official Description: “Food for the belly, and food for the soul. A delightful, tasty and charming look at a small town, rural Florida, African American “Church built on BBQ”

Food Safari – Fire (10 episodes)

Host Maeve O’Meara dedicated an entire 10-episode season to exploring live-fire cooking traditions across the world

Primal Grill with Steve Raichlen S3 (13 episodes)

Grilling authority Steven Raichlen provides step-by-step instructions on a variety of barbecue dishes from across the world.

The Wood Whisperer Barbecue (4 episodes)

Official Description: “Renowed woodworker, Marc Spagnuolo uses his knowledge of wood to help him explore the world of barbecue and grilling. Spoiler, that knowledge doesn’t help at all”

Disney+

The World According to Jeff Goldblum S1E5 – “BBQ” (28 mins)

A rather superficial look into the world of barbecue from the ever-quirky Goldblum.

Linkdown: 10/21/20

Featured

I was happy to get a text from Garren Kirkman of Jon G’s Barbecue a few weeks back saying that famed Charlotte food writer Kathleen Purvis had finally come to check them out (although he didn’t know it at the time). And the verdict is in: Kathleen agrees with what we’ve been saying for years: Jon G’s is legit, particularly that brisket. Check out the rest of her top 5 at the link below.

Native News

Even with the Barbecue Festival cancelled, the annual release of Fine Swine Wine from Childress Vineyards goes on, with Bob Timberlake once again contributing pig art; “This year’s blend features rich, bright flavors of cherry and ripe strawberry. Soft and smooth tannins provide an enticing pallet for the smoky, Lexington barbecue flavors.”

More coverage on Lexington’s “Lift Up Lexington” event taking place of the annual Barbecue Festival

The Redneck BBQ Lab’s first franchise will be in the former Q Shack location in North Hills in Raleigh under the name “The BBQ Lab”

Mac’s Speed Shop has been handing out free pulled pork for voters in front of the Bojangles Entertainment Complex

Bob Garner joins the Tying It Together podcast with Tim Boyum of Spectrum News to discuss the famed history between barbecue and politics in NC

Check out this tailgate pack from Picnic

Non-Native News

Husk Greenville is now Husk Barbeque

Huey Nash Jr. discusses his late father’s dream to become the first Black food vendor at the State Fair of Texas.

Barbacoa in LA

Barbecue on Netflix Streaming (Updated August 2019)

NOTE: This is an updated version of a post that was last updated in October 2017.

Monk: By no means is this an exhaustive list but here are the barbecue shows and episodes that I’ve found on Netflix streaming. What have I missed? Feel free to comment below and I will update the post.

New(ish) to Netflix

Queer Eye S3E3 – “Jones Bar-B-Q” (47 mins)

This episode of Queer Eye helped make the Jones Bar-B-Q sisters – Little and Shorty – international barbecue celebrities when it aired earlier in 2019, but they have been doing barbecue in Kansas City for decades. Their sauce with the redesigned label courtesy of the Queer Eye crew is now a huge seller, with the website prominently displaying a banner reading “Please allow a 7-10 day delay in shipping as we have been overwhelmed at the response and will send your order as soon as we can.” From the looks of the episode, it appears that the newly found fame is well-deserved.

Ugly Delicious S1E5 – “BBQ” (47 mins)

Chef David Chang’s Netflix series will return for a second season soon but episode 5 in season one covered barbecue as well as other live fire customs across the world. I recapped it for the film club here.

Street Food S1E9 – “Cebu, Philippines” (31 mins)

In the Philippines lechon, or whole roasted pig, is the preferred form of barbecue in this nation of over 7,000 islands. In this food custom, a smaller suckling pig is tied around a pole and rotated over a live fire for hours. This episode covers lechon in addition to a few other food customs from the city of Cebu in southern Philippines.

Taco Chronicles S1E5 – “Barbacoa” (31 mins)

The Taco Chronicles is a Spanish-language food series where each episode focuses on a different type of taco. The “Barbacoa” episode focuses on the lamb/goat form of barbecue primarily located in Mexico and the southern border of Texas, which I’ve never tasted myself but is described on the episode as being “softer than the tortilla it is served on.”

Still on Netflix

Barbecue (101 mins)

I recapped this full-length film about live fire cooking across the world in our Barbecue Bros Film club series here.

Cooked S1E1 – “Fire” (52 mins)

In this first episode of the miniseries on food, food author Michael Pollan goes in search of primordial cooking and finds it in eastern North Carolina and Ed Mitchell. The episode follows Ed and his son Ryan as they pick out a pig from the butcher shop, get the coals started, and then proceed to smoke a whole hog for a small gathering at the end of the episode. Michael and a couple of buddies even try to emulate it on their own in a small, backyard pit in California. Ed also tells a story of how he learned to cook pigs from his grandfather, a former slave. The barbecue section starts at approximately 26:00.

The Mind of the Chef S1E15 – “Smoke” (23 mins)

This series’ first season follows chef David Chang and his culinary experiences around the globe. This particular episode deals with the idea of “smoke” and in addition to short segments on barbecue styles, this episode includes ones on Allen Benton’s bacon, as well as a visit by David Chang and Sean Brock to the Louisville Slugger factory to get personalized bats made.

The North Carolina barbecue segment visited Raleigh’s The Pit back when pit master Ed Mitchell was still there and showcases whole hog barbecue. The Texas segment interviews Joe Capello, the pitmaster from City Market in Luling while in Kansas City they talk with the Doug Worgul, the marketing director of Oklahoma Joe’s. Pretty basic stuff, but well shot and produced by ZPZ Productions (known for previous work with Anthony Bourdain).

The Mind of the Chef S2E7 – “Low Country BBQ” (23 mins)

Whereas season 1 followed David Chang on his culinary adventures (see above), season 2 of The Mind of a Chef follows noted Charleston Chef Sean Brock. In the seventh episode, he smokes a whole hog with friend Rodney Scott in South Carolina’s lowcountry for a small gathering despite less than optimal conditions. Sean also prepares a couple of lowcountry sides with guest chefs. Anthony Bourdain narrates.

Click through to see more episodes no longer available on Netflix