Linkdown: 3/2/22

North Carolina has lost another classic barbecue joint; Smiley’s Lexington BBQ officially closed this past weekend as a result of the NC DOT widening of Winston Road. Restaurant owner Steve Yountz and his wife, Tena, have no official plans to relocate the restaurant as of now but are not ruling it out either, depending on how much money they get from the state. For now, they are going to take some time to evaluate their options.

The building housing Smiley’s has been a barbecue restaurant for over 70 years and according to Yountz, ““It’s the oldest pit-cooking restaurant in Lexington. We’re still using the original pits.” Before Yountz opened Smiley’s in 2002, it operated as Southern Barbecue from 1963 to 1998 and started as Dan’s in the 1950’s.

This NC DOT project, first announced in 2018 and not set to begin until July 2023, actually has two victims as Speedy’s Barbecue the next block over is also closing due to the road widening.

Native News

Through the Preserve the Pit fellowship, Ron Simmons of Master Blend Farms in Kenansville was able to add 56 acres to his family farm and add barbecue catering as a side gig

Big Belly Que in Chapel Hill is pivoting to Italian for the time being

Lechon Latin BBQ is a new-ish, Latin-focused barbecue restaurant at Raleigh’s Triangle Town Center

Noble Smoke’s second location at Optimist Hall opens this Sunday

Congrats to Garren and Kelly from Jon G’s, who 2 years ago on Sunday closed on the former Barbee’s Barbecue location, which they would open in June 2020 just a few months into the pandemic

Non-Native News

Texas barbecue James Beard semifinalists

Robert Sietsema’s latest barbecue guide for Eater NY

Juicy Lucia and Di Fara Pizzeria will be located in the former Corner House BBQ on Staten Island

Virgie’s is back

Lewis Barbecue is set to open their Greenville location this summer

Snow’s Barbecue by Robert Jacob Lerma for Huckberry

According to Dave Grohl, salt and pepper is all the rub you need for a great brisket

Aaron Franklin’s Hot Luck Festival is back and has added NC band Superchunk to its music lineup

Here’s a list of the chefs that will be at Hot Luck

Should we call this the Memphis Airport Barbecue Challenge?

Linkdown: 2/2/22

Barbecue fests are back, baby! Earlier this week, both the BBQ Fest on the Neuse in Kinston, NC and the Houston Barbecue Festival announced separately that they were both back in spring 2022.

This is after other festivals announce plans to come back strong in 2022, notably Memphis in May, Hogs for the Cause, Jiggy with the Piggy, and Aaron Franklin’s Hot Luck Festival.

Plus the successful debuts of the Pinehurst Barbecue Festival and Holy Smokes in 2021. And finally, it looks like The Barbecue Festival should be back in 2022 as well.

Fingers crossed that we get on the other side of the omicron variant and things can finally go back to relative normalcy.

Native News

Lawrence Barbecue renames their most popular sandwich in honor of American Aquarium, with proceeds in the month of February going to the Jimmy V Foundation (a favorite charity of hardcore NC State fan and lead singer BJ Barham)

Jiggy with the Piggy seeks vendors and sponsors

Non-Native News

Introducing, the concept of a “Texatarian”

More on the wood issues facing Texas pitmasters

Former Texas A&M Defensive Lineman Jay Arnold is starting a new substack newsletter

Heim Barbecue has scheduled another BBQ class at their River location

RIP Danny Edwards of Lil’ Jake’s in Kansas City

Barbecue Bros AV Club: The Chef Show S1E8 – “Hot Luck” (Netflix)

Watch Now (Netflix subscription required)

Monk: In the first of two episodes with Aaron Franklin, “The Chef Show” guys learned the basics of trimming, rubbing, and serving a brisket. Now, Favreau and Choi stick around to serve a variation of Choi’s famous short ribs at Franklin’s Hot Luck festival.

But before that, they are chatting over a ridiculous looking platter of meat at Franklin Barbecue and discussing the the “left vs right” theory of brisket. In short, the majority of cows are “rightys” (like humans) and get up from a lying position on their right side. So the theory goes, pitmasters always will want a left brisket from their distributors and thus they are harder to find. Franklin, however, doesn’t lend any credence to this theory and calls BS, even though he notes that he just so happens to have a lot of left briskets at his restaurant. Favreau jokes that he and the rest of the regular joes out there must get all the right briskets for their backyard then. They also discuss stick burners and Franklin’s approach to temperate versus feel. As with any of these conversations, its fascinating to get insight into Franklin’s mind.

Then, the conversation shifts to the Hot Luck Festival, which Aaron created to be the “anti-food-festival festival” for chefs and cooks. This was filmed ahead of the very first one in 2017, and Franklin explains his approach in inviting friends and cooks that he admires. Essentially, he wants each chef to cook what they would cook for their friends, “even if that’s just hot dogs.” Roy Choi is cooking his famous Kalbi short ribs with the tweak that he will be starting them off in the smoker, which isn’t normally the case for Korean short ribs (but which Franklin is very into). Then, Favreau joins Choi in the kitchen to begin prep.

Choi begins game planning what prep can be done today (sauce, kimchi) versus what would need to be done tomorrow (smoking and grilling of the ribs). With just one Vitamix blender (as opposed to a big immersion blender that could be submerged into the big pot), the process isn’t as efficient as it could be but you can see where Choi is adjusting the scaled-up recipe based on instinct and tasting along the way. I wonder if Favreau knew exactly what he signed up when he volunteered to assist Roy in the kitchen.

Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn makes a brief cameo as Favreau and Choi are heading to the smokehouse to check out their smoker for the following day. He will make another appearance later in the episode.

The final piece of prep for the day is marinating the beef short ribs in the Kalbi sauce they just made; Favreau looks exhausted by the end of it.

After a quick diversion to a deconstructed s’more from Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar (and the custom-made flame apparatus create by Franklin for the festival), it’s finally the day of the festival and time to get down to business. Favreau is once again put to work loading the smoker with the short ribs and 5 hours later, they are done with the initial smoke part of the process. Choi serves a sample rib to fellow Angeleno Adam Perry Lang of APL, who is in town for the festival and approves.

Choi shows Favreau how to finish the ribs on the grill and then heads out to the festival to begin serving. Favreau sends platters of finished ribs out to Choi who slices them and puts them in a bowl with rice and the kimchi they prepared yesterday.

Hot Luck looks awesome, and you get a little sense of the other dishes and chefs/cooks there, including the aforementioned Daniel Vaughn’s smoked NY strip taco.

This episode was a little more process-oriented than the previous episode, mainly because of Choi’s participation in Hot Luck. I’ve gotta say, it was funny to see Favreau working so hard though I must sympathize because that looked to be extremely hot conditions at the festival considering it was May in Austin.

While these two episodes are my only exposure to “The Chef Show” to date, I may go back and check out the other, non-barbecue episodes. Favreau and Choi have an easy going camaraderie between them and the episodes are a good length at 30 minutes or less each. Season 1 was broken into two “volumes” that both premiered in 2019 so I will be curious to see how much more of this show (if any) there will be since Favreau is now helming “The Mandolorian” on Disney+ and Choi is surely busy with his own ventures. In any case, these two episodes are a welcome insight into the mind of Aaron Franklin that you wouldn’t be able to get by watching old episodes of “BBQ Pitmasters.”

Watch Now (Netflix subscription required)

Linkdown: 5/29/19

Robert Moss with a list of iconic barbecue joints in the South

Never drink bourbon with brisket? So says John Lewis

Major FOMO from this past weekend’s Hot Luck Fest in Austin

J.C. Reid: How cities outside of Texas are building a market for barbecue

Beaufort vs Beaufort: in the battle of the two coastal Carolina towns, barbecue probably isn’t the main reason to go, but each has their own longstanding joints in Roland’s Barbecue and Duke’s Bar-B-Que

For rib season

The story behind George Leach, former Indiana University basketball star and owner of OooWee BBQ in Charlotte

The backyard grill took barbecue out of the South, according to an excerpt from Jim Auchmutey’s new barbecue book “Smokelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America

ICMYI, a great story on the history of Carolina barbecue from Charlotte Magazine