VISIT OUR ONLINE STORE

pbbbq_national_award_ribbon

BBQ – In The News

 
 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 18: Brad Orrison

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 18th Most Influential Person in BBQ. Coming in as the 18th Most Influential Person in BBQ is founder, pitmaster and Head Shedhed of The Shed, Brad Orrison.

BO

If Rodney Dangerfield and Nikola Tesla were reincarnated into a single funny man/mad scientist of barbecue they would find that they weren’t the first. That honor would go to The Shed’s Brad Orrison, a guy who never seems to be having a bad day and is always looking for ways to use his genius to transform your trash into his barbecue treasure. Orrison could just as easily be listed as the definition of “The American Dream” in any reputable dictionary. 

Shed

Orrison’s journey to barbecue influence began were, most likely, no one else’s began – in the dumpsters and garbage piles surrounding Ole Miss University. Upon graduation Orrison hauled his pile of junk, or treasure, back home to Ocean Springs, MS and decided to build a barbeque joint from the contents of that pile after an epiphany. The Shed’s more than decade run and Orrison’s loyal followers known as “ShedHeds” are just two example of his influence in the world of barbecue. In 2012 when The Shed burned it rose from the ashes as if it were a Phoenix thanks to the efforts of those loyal ShedHeds and their contribution of junk to rebuild the restaurant in record time. 

Hog

The Shed competition team lead by Orrison is a fixture at Memphis in May and other major barbecue contests in the South. This year The Shed won the Memphis in May Whole Hog World Championship with their innovative “Running Hog” presentation.

In 2013 Brad and his crew of Shed Heads debuted The Shed on the Food Network. That wasn’t Orrison’s first Food Network appearance, in 2011 he joined his sister Brooke as contestants on the Food Network’s show Best in Smoke. Orrison is also a respected barbecue judge and has been invited to judge some of the most important barbecue contests including the Kingsford Invitational.

Orrison’s influence on barbecue is fueled by his big personality and wide grin. Be it through his innovative entrepreneurial spirit, successful restaurants, World Championship barbecue team, line of sauces and rubs or presence on national television, Orrison is among a limited few vying to lead the next generation of great pitmasters and barbecue entrepreneurs. His influence will be felt for many years to come as he continues to take his barbecue to new levels. 

On December 15th we’ll unveil the 17th Most Influential Person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve announced the 19th through 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 19: Johnny Trigg

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 19th Most Influential Person in BBQ. Coming in as the 19th Most Influential Person in BBQ is pitmaster of Smokin’ Triggers, Johnny Trigg.

JT

Trigg, better known as the Godfather of BBQ, is unquestionably a living legend on the competition barbecue circuit, driving thousands of miles and cooking dozens of contests each year since 1990. Trigg’s competition team, Smokin’ Triggers, comprised of Trigg and wife Trish, hold the distinct honor of being the only team to win the Jack Daniel’s World Championship BBQ Invitational in Lynchburg, TN twice, in 2000 and 2003. Trigg is also widely known as one of the best rib cooks in the history of competition barbecue.

Over the past few years Trigg has become a mainstay on barbecue related television shows including his appearance as one of the original cast members of BBQ Pitmasters in 2009. Trigg returned to an updated BBQ Pitmasters format in 2012 and was crowned BBQ Pitmasters Grand Champion. 

ST

In 2010 Trigg along with well-known pitmasters Myron Mixon, Jamie Geer, & Tuffy Stone traveled to Kuwait to feed U.S. troops serving in the Middle East. This trip has recently been turned into a documentary film, The Kings of BBQ: Barbecue Kuwait, by BBQ Pitmasters producer John Markus.

Trigg’s influence in the world of barbecue was recognized and had an exclamation point added to it in 2012 when he was inducted into the National Barbecue Hall of Fame at the 2012 American Royal. If that isn’t enough to convince you of Trigg’s influence on the world of barbecue spend a few minutes observing his cook site at a barbecue contest and you’ll see Trigg’s countless admirers seeking a picture or a few minutes to chat with one of BBQ’s living legends. 

On December 14th we’ll unveil the 18th Most Influential Person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve announced the 20th through 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 20: Danielle Dimovski (Diva Q)

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 20th Most Influential Person in BBQ. Coming in as the 20th Most Influential Person in BBQ is the host of BBQ Crawl and pitmaster for Diva Q, Danielle Dimovski.

World Bacon Champion - Diva Q - 2

If passion for barbecue alone determined influence we can only think of one person that would challenge Dimovski for most influential, and that person would be Famous Dave Anderson. If you’ve ever been at a competition where Dimovski, better known as Diva Q, has received a call (and it doesn’t matter if it was 10th place chicken or Grand Champion) you’ve heard that passion come out in one of her signature exuberant yells of victory (and at the rare contest where she doesn’t hear her name called you’re likely to hear those exuberant yells when one of her many barbecue buddies receives a call).

Dimovski’s influence on BBQ originates from multiple sources including her success on the competition circuit, reputation as the top pitmaster in Canada, frequent domination of side dish and dessert categories, hosting of the very popular television show BBQ Crawl, and eagerness to share her love of barbecue with aspiring pitmasters through her popular Diva Q Competition Cooking Classes.

BBQ Crawl

Dimovski’s hit series, BBQ Crawl (seen in both Canada and the U.S.), is a sort of travel almanac of the barbecue addicted hosts travels to barbecue joints and contests across America. According to her website, Dimovski loves eating barbecue and, “It doesn’t matter if it’s a one man shack serving chicken over a hot charcoal filled barrel on the side of the road or a high end BBQ joint serving Q off the latest in BBQ technology. She wants it all and she wants to know the stories behind those BBQ folks.” Her travels and visits to both well-known and recently established barbecue joints is influencing the dinning destinations of barbecue lovers throughout North America. In 2013 Diva Q continued to grow her brand and influence on television as one of the rotating judges on BBQ Pitmasters.

In addition to being the 2011 Jack Daniels World Pork Champion, Dimovski took home one of the most unique and coveted titles in the bacon crazed world in 2013 when she was named the World Bacon Champion at the Roc City Rib Fest.

Dimovski’s love of BBQ and aspiration to share that love with anyone who will listen is a certain recipe for her to continue to be one of the most important influencers in the world of barbecue for years to come.

On December 13th we’ll unveil the 19th Most Influential Person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve announced the 21st through 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 21: Bill Arnold

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 21st most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 21st Most Influential Person in BBQ is owner of Blues Hog Barbecue Company, Bill Arnold. 

Bill Arnold

The name Bill Arnold might not be a household name in America, but ask any competition barbecue cook about Arnold and they will either know him by name or through the reputation of his Blues Hog Barbecue brand. You’d be hard pressed to find a person who has competed in a professional barbecue contest that hasn’t included at least one of Arnold’s Blues Hog Barbecue Sauces in their competition arsenal. Blues Hog Barbecue Sauces have become one of the most dominate products in the world of competition barbecue winning hundreds of pitmasters thousands of awards from coast to coast by providing them with one of the winningest flavor profiles on the circuit today.

Blues Hog

Arnold’s influence on barbecue can also be felt on the grocery shelves across America and in many locations throughout the world as his Blues Hog Barbecue Sauces have become one of the most successful BBQ Sauces in America.

In addition to being an influential force in the world of competition barbecue, Arnold and his Blues Hog BBQ Team are a force in their community raising thousands of dollars and donating hundreds of hours to worthwhile charities like the United Way, the American Cancer Society and the Make a Wish Foundation.

It is unlikely that Arnold’s influence will diminish anytime soon with the number of established and up and coming competition barbecue teams using his line of award winning sauces.

On December 12th we’ll unveil the 20th Most Influential Person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve announced the 22nd through 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

22nd – Competition BBQ Judges

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 22: Competition BBQ Judges

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 22nd Most Influential Person in BBQ. Coming in as the 22nd Most Influential Person in BBQ is the Competition BBQ Judge.

BBQ

Like it or not, an army of barbecue judges stretching from coast to coast, virtually every weekend throughout the year, wield more influence over the world of competition barbecue and impact thousands of pitmasters more than anyone else. If it weren’t for the dedicated volunteers who call themselves Certified BBQ Judges that give their time each weekend for their love of barbecue and a cooler full of leftovers there couldn’t be the sport we love. 

Their influence doesn’t equate to that of a celebrity or product inventor, but for two hours on any given Saturday or Sunday their influence is all that matters as pitmasters put their efforts of the past 24 hours in the hands of 6 individuals – the BBQ Judges. Their influence, also unlike that of a celebrity or product inventor, has the unique quality of being everlasting. As the influence of yesterday’s celebrity or new product inventor wanes their influence of contests past remains on the trophy shelves of the few lucky enough to impress them at a given contest and lingers like an early morning fog at the contests yet to come.

The BBQ Judge, as long as there are BBQ competitions, will wield the most influence in BBQ on Saturday’s and Sunday’s at venues across America. The scores they hand out will influence the cooking styles, cooking gear and flavor profiles of countless pitmasters looking to thrill their tastebuds.

On December 11th we’ll unveil the 21st Most Influential Person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve announced the 23rd through 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 23: Melissa Cookston

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 23rd most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 23rd Most Influential Person in BBQ is Memphis Barbecue Company Owner and Pitmaster of Yazoo’s Delta Q, Melissa Cookston. 

Melissa Cookston & Trophies

When it comes to cooking whole hog, there is no better whole hog cook on planet Earth than Melissa Cookston. Cookston and her Yazoo’s Delta Q team won the Memphis in May Whole Hog Championship in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and is the only female that can lay claim to being a Memphis in May World BBQ Champion, winning the title in 2010 and 2012. In 2012, Cookston & Yzoo’s Delta Q won the inaugural Kingsford Invitational

Memphis BBQ Co Pig

In 2011 Cookston joined forces with John Wheeler of Natural Born Grillers and opened Memphis Barbecue Company in Horn Lake, MS. Memphis Barbecue Company is the only restaurant in America operated by two Memphis in May World Champion Pitmasters. From firsthand experience we can confirm that the food coming out of Memphis Barbecue Company is top notch, especially the ribs!

In recent years Cookston & competition partner and husband, Pete Cookston, have cut back on the number of contests they are cooking because increased demands are pulling them in so many directions with the opening of restaurants, writing a cookbook and an increased presence on TV. In 2013 Cookston served as one of the rotating judges on BBQ Pitmasters. Rumor has it that in 2014 she’ll shed the duties of rotating judge and join Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone as the third permanent judge on the show.

Cookston continues to climb the charts as one of the most influential people in the world of BBQ from multiple angles.  As one of BBQ’s most influential women her influence on the growing number of females participating in the world of competition barbecue and firing up grills in America’s backyards can’t be underestimated. But her influence goes well beyond being one of the most influential women in BBQ. She has been as successful as anyone participating in Memphis style contests in the history of the sport, is proving to be a force in the world of BBQ restaurants and continues to grow here presence and influence in the expanding world of barbecue on television.

Check out Cookston’s recent interview with Bon Appetite Magazine for some great insight on her thoughts on barbecue.

On December 10th we’ll unveil the 22rd Most Influential Person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve announced the 24th and 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 24: Adam Perry Lang

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 24th Most Influential Person in BBQ. Coming in as the 24th Most Influential Person in BBQ is owner of Daisy May’s BBQ in New York City, co-owner with Jamie Oliver of Barbecoa in London and author of countless barbecue cookbooks, Adam Perry Lang.

 

Adam Perry Lang

Lang’s inventive nature and playfulness over the grill is redefining the way we approach live fire cooking. He is in many ways to barbecue and grilling what Wylie Dufresne is to molecular gastronome. His blending of old school techniques with innovation is creating new cooking styles and dishes that had never been attempted over live fire before. Perhaps the best example of this comes from the recipes that populate his 2012 book Charred and Scruffed, a must have for any serious griller. While you’re stocking your bookshelf you might as well pick up his 2013 re-release, Serious Barbecue, which has some seriously good recipes in it!

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and trained in some of the top kitchens in the world including Le Cirque an Daniel in New York City and Guy Savoy in France, Lang has a culinary pedigree that few, or more likely no one else has in the world of barbecue. Being pulled by his love of barbecue Lang opened his first restaurant, Daisy May’s BBQ in New York City becoming a trailblazer for the dozens of current pitmasters that now own urban barbecue joints. In 2010 Lang partnered with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to open Barbecoa in London.

A confirmation of Lang’s barbecue chops and additional certification of his being a major player in the world of barbecue came at the 2013 American Royal where he was inducted into the National Barbecue Hall of Fame.

On December 9th we’ll unveil the 23rd Most Influential Person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List  each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve announced the 25th Most Influential Person in BBQ.

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ. 

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 25: Ronnie Cates

Today we begin the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 25th Most Influential Person in BBQ. Coming in as the 25th Most Influential Person in BBQ is Smoke on the Water Productions President & CEO, Ronnie Cates.

DSC_0736 (1024x685)

There can be little argument that the rapid growth of competition barbecue is in large part due to the increased number of competitions popping up throughout the country and the increasing value of the prize purses being offered. No one in the world of barbecue has contributed more to the increase in prize money than Ronnie Cates. His Smoke on the Water Productions is known throughout the sport for promoting premier contests with some of the richest prize purses year after year.

In 2013 Cates’s Smoke on the Water Productions hosted 6 high dollar contests from coast to coast that saw the biggest names in competition barbecue drive hundreds if not thousands of miles for a shot at a life changing payday. These contests included the East Coast’s largest payout at the inaugural Do AC Smokin’ Hot Atlantic City BBQ Championship and the West Coast’s largest payout at the USA Barbecue Championship in Laughlin, NV.

Smoke on the Water

On his Smoke on the Water Productions website Cates says, “It used to be a handful of contests giving away ribbons and a little bit of prize money. We came in and created events for the true professional to compete against the world’s top teams and increased prize money ten fold. Winning one of our events, especially the prestigious USA Barbecue Championship, now guarantees endorsement opportunities and the notoriety that goes with being the world’s best.”

In addition to attracting the best competition barbecue has to offer, Cates’s events are attracting major sponsors and venues to host them which means more money is coming into the sport of professional barbecue and more of that money is trickling down to teams. It’s possible for Cate’s to attract sponsors and prestigious venues because of the festival atmosphere he creates to attract the general public to grilling demonstrations, celebrity cook-off’s, product sampling, live music, food vendors, and much more.

Ronnie Cates is a major influencer in the world of BBQ today and with a goal to host the world’s first million dollar barbecue contest is likely to continue his influence on the world of competition barbecue for years to come.

On December 8th we’ll unveil the 24th Most Influential Person in BBQ. Each day now through December 31st we’ll reveal a new person on our list of the 25 Most Influential People in BBQ until we get to Number 1.

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31  and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ. 

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – The Countdown Begins December 7th

Award Ribbons

There are over 317,000,000 people in America and the vast majority of them are part of the barbecue community. According to a 2011 study conducted by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 86% of all U.S. households own a grill or smoker and 99% of them used them at least once in the past year. These grills and smokers were used everywhere – backyards, campgrounds, tailgate parties, restaurants, etc… Even if you don’t own a grill or smoker, millions more of us attended a backyard barbecue, a tailgate party or ate at a BBQ restaurant. Look in just about anyone’s refrigerator or pantry and you’ll find a bottle or two of barbecue sauce. The simple fact is just about all of us that make up the more than 317,000,000 Americans participate in the world of BBQ.

On December 7th we’ll kickoff a daily series inspired by Forbes magazine’s annual list of “The World’s Most Powerful People” that attempts to identify the 25 most influential people in the world of BBQ in 2013. Factors that we’ve taken into account in developing our list include:

  • Contributions to the growth of BBQ as an American institution.
  • Contributions to the growth of BBQ as an industry.
  • Professional Success.
  • Competition Success.
  • Visibility within and outside the BBQ community.
  • Name recognition.  
  • Innovation.
  • Longevity.
  • Financial Impact on the BBQ Industry

On Saturday, December 7th we’ll unveil the 25th Most Influential Person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ list each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.  

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31  and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the Most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ!

 

Washington Post BBQ Article – “Signs of spring: Smoke, brisket and Shiner Bock”

Signs of spring: Smoke, brisket and Shiner Bock

By Joe Yonan  |  April 6, 2010 – The Washington Post

If Texas is “a whole ‘nother country,” as the state’s tourism campaign once proclaimed, then Jim and Jessica Shahin’s place on Capitol Hill over the weekend surely qualified as a whole ‘nother city, because it sure didn’t smell like the District. I swear I picked up the scent of that telltale combination of smoke and spice (no sauce, please) when my Zipcar was still at least six or seven blocks away. Who needs Google maps?

When my friend and I arrived, margarita and beer orders (Shiner Bock, naturally) were being taken on the porch, and after asking for “rocks, no salt,” a phrase I must’ve repeated a thousand or two times while going to school at UT-Austin in the ’80s, I high-tailed it straight through the house to the little back yard. And yes, in case you’re wondering why I’m using such phrases as “high-tailed it,” it’s because I’m talking about Texas, and whenever I do, my now-faded accent comes back to the fore as I start droppin’ my g’s and flattenin’ out my i’s and using words like “fixin’ ” and “high-tailed” instead of “getting ready” and “rushed.”

Anyway, when I got back there, writer and barbecue aficionado Jim Shahin was lifting the lid on his offset-firebox smoker and showing friends, including Washington City Paper columnist Tim Carman, what sat inside, bathed in swirls of gray. Four briskets from the Lone Star State were tightly wrapped in foil on one side of the thing, while mahogany-colored pork and beef ribs sat on the other.

Why?

I’m going to let Jim tell the story. The man knows his barbecue; he’s written about it for The Post, GQ, Southern Living, the Austin Chronicle, Chile Pepper magazine and American Way magazine, among other publications. He’s judged at the Taylor Barbeque Cook-off in Taylor, Texas, and the Brady Goat Cook-Off in Brady, Texas. He has eaten barbecue extensively throughout North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, Atlanta, and, of course, Texas. A freelance writer, he periodically teaches magazine journalism at the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University.

Anyway, here’s what he says:

Last September, I went to Austin to do a magazine story and some research on a book. Whenever I go to Austin, where I lived for about 25 years, I bring back what I like to call “imported foods” — Elgin sausage, good tortillas from Austin’s Central Market, Jaime’s salsa (usually at least two jars of each the red and green — it is the best commercial salsa I have ever eaten, period), tamales, briskets (smoked from a favorite barbecue joint and raw to smoke when I get home), sometimes a rack of ribs. I always take at least one folding suitcase to tuck inside a carry-on, so that I have space to bring the foodstuffs back.

Without extending the story too long, I’ll note that this routine is not without its distresses. Two Christmases ago, I was bringing back some chopped brisket when the TSA guy at a connecting airport held the plastic container upside down, watched the chopped meat slide downward, claimed it was a liquid, and said it would have to be thrown out. “If you held a container of marbles upside down they’d do the same thing,” I protested. “Does that make them a liquid?” He was unmoved. “Sir,” he said. “I’m going to have to ask you to calm down.” He tossed the ambrosial beef into a trash can. I slunk a few steps, then stopped, and, staring at the trash can, seriously considered the chances of successfully retrieving the container. At the moment when I decided heck-this-just-might-work, my wife and son approached. Seeing them made me reconsider my plan. It probably wasn’t the best idea for Daddy to spend New Year’s in jail. Although, to this day I wonder, if not for brisket, for what, then?

In Texas, arguments over barbecue are fierce. I wondered whether it was possible to actually, objectively, decide the best brisket — the king of the Texas barbecue plate — once and for all. So, while in town, I went to four of Texas Monthly’s top-five rated barbecue joints as ranked its latest quinquennial roundup of the state’s best 50. I made it to Snow’s (TM #1), Kreuz (TM #2), Smitty’s (TM #3), and Louie Mueller (TM #5). The missing brisket was from City Market (TM #4) in Luling, which was too far to go to in the time I had.

I had been to all of the Texas Monthly Top Five ‘cue joints before. Snow’s, only once before, the others scores of times. I had, of course, reached my own conclusions, but the idea of a blind tasting intrigued me. Like wine, only with meat. At the places I went, I ordered only the deckle. That’s the fatty hilly back part, the fatty part, or, as I prefer to think of it, the flavorful part.

Getting briskets from Kreuz and Smitty’s was easy, because they are both in Lockhart, only about 40 minutes south of Austin. As soon as I rented my car at the airport, I dashed down to Lockhart, had lunch at both places and bought the briskets. Mueller’s was also a breeze. On the next to last day of my trip, I reserved the morning to visit my in-laws who live just down the road from Taylor, about 40 minutes northeast of Austin, where Mueller is located. As for Snow’s, it is only open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until they run out, generally in the early afternoon. My flight left Austin on a Saturday, around 11 a.m. Snow’s is in Lexington, about an hour northeast of Austin. I set my alarm for 6 a.m., left my friend’s house where I was staying around 7:30 a.m., took what I thought would be a shortcut, got lost, and, after thinking I should just forget it so as not to miss my flight, arrived at Snow’s about 9:20 a.m. As always, there was a long line. As I watched the minutes tick away, I told the owner my situation. He took me to their freezer and sold me a frozen brisket Cryovac-ed for mailing. I raced to the Austin airport, got there about 10:20 a.m., and lugged my brisket-laden luggage to the gate just as the plane was boarding.

When I got back to D.C., I double-wrapped each brisket in heavy aluminum foil and zipped them in a plastic freezer bag. Snow’s, I left in the Cryovac. The following weekend, I smoked my own brisket, wrapped it and stored it, too, in the freezer.

I kept trying to find a time to have the brisket tasting, but life kept intervening. Finally, after picking a weekend, our oven broke. I wanted to warm the briskets in the oven so that they would not take on any flavoring from the wood in my barrel smoker and thus change the character of the brisket. A repairman came out, declared the oven fixed. We went forward. But as my wife was making her mother’s Texas pecan pies, the oven went on the fritz again. Every time it went off — which was about every minute and a half (no exaggeration) — she would punch the keys to turn it back on. This went on for over an hour.

With everyone invited and bringing side dishes, I couldn’t reschedule. I had thawed the briskets the night before and discarded the foil. Now, I re-wrapped them, hoping to warm them through without the woodsmoke from my rig penetrating and changing their flavor. That, though, meant risking that the blackened exterior, known as the bark, might suffer, as the foil might make the meat too moist. So, for the final 10 minutes, I removed the foil. My hope was that 10 minutes would be too little time to damage the flavor but maybe enough time to restore whatever of the original bark had been lost — if any. (Remember, all of this was just theorizing.)

We did the tasting and, after rating each brisket on a 1-to-5 scale (5 being the best), a judgment was rendered: In something of a surprise, Smitty’s was voted No. 1 with a rating of 4.5. The other three were in a statistical dead heat for second, with Snow’s getting 3.6, Mueller 3.59 and Kreuz 3.5.

After the tasting, I sliced into my brisket, which I had also put on the smoker, and, along with Elgin sausage, pork ribs, beef ribs and extra-thick pork chops and all the fixin’s of beans, potato salad, coleslaw, collards and (required at a true Central Texas barbecue) cheap white sandwich bread, we had a barbecue dinner that would have made LBJ proud.

How could I say it any better myself? I’ll add just one thing: While it’s true that the Smitty’s brisket is the one that made me moan out loud, and I gave it a 5 out of 5, I would be ecstatic to eat any one of these briskets any day. (I had Snow’s just last year, one of many who went after Calvin Trillin’s New Yorker piece.) Okay, one more thing: We didn’t score Jim’s own brisket, but this much is clear. If we had, it would’ve been a contender.

– Joe Yonan