Pitmaster Interviews

Interview: George Mahathay of Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ; Opened 1986 (estimated) Age: 68 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Red Oak and Hickory It seems that everybody who drives by Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ in Jasper honks and waves. George “Billy” Mahathay is a popular man, almost as popular as his barbecue. He told me jokingly that he can’t do anything bad around town because everybody knows him. They all know him because he has ran this barbecue business for thirty years. They…

Interview: Robert Patillo of Patillo’s Bar-B-Q

Owner: Patillo’s Bar-B-Q; Opened 1912 Age: 67 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Hickory, red oak, white oak, and pecan Patillo’s Bar-B-Q has been operating in Beaumont since 1912. It has moved around a lot in the past 100 years, but it’s always been in the family. That makes it the oldest family owned barbecue establishment in Texas, and also the oldest black owned barbecue joint in the state. The only place you’ll find brisket here is within the…

Interview: LeAnn Mueller of La Barbecue

Owner: La Barbecue; Opened 2012 Age: 42 LeAnn Mueller hails from a famous barbecue family, but all she ever wanted was to be a professional photographer. Now she has the photography career and one of the state’s most highly regarded barbecue joints, which is ironic for someone who wanted nothing to do with barbecue just a few years ago. Mueller grew up in Taylor, Texas with a famous pitmaster for a father, and two future pitmasters…

Interview: Trent Brooks of Brooks’ Place

Owner/Pitmaster: Brooks’ Place; Opened 2009 Age: 45 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Red Oak, Pecan, Hickory, and Mesquite Brooks’ Place isn’t exactly easy to get to, but that’s part of its charm. Cypress is at least a thirty minute drive from downtown Houston. It’s a destination, and those in line along with you understand that traveling for good barbecue is worth it. Trent Brooks has been running this trailer on a parking lot in front of an…

Interview: James Davis of Davis Meat Market

Owner/Pitmaster: Davis Meat Market; Opened 1988 Age: 76 Smoker: Gas-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Oak I rang a buzzer outside this bright red metal building in Houston’s Fifth Ward, and owner James Davis met me at the door. As soon as I stepped inside the smell of raw meat was present, but not unpleasant, and it was tempered with a whiff of fried cracklins. I followed Mr. Davis to his back counter where most of the transactions happen. Along the way I…

Interview: Tim Byres of Smoke

Co-Owner/Chef: Smoke; Opened 2009 Age: 39 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Smoker Wood: Various Tim Byres is a man who is hard to pin down, mainly because he despises labels. He has been chef, pitmaster, author, culinary diplomat, and almost a food stylist. Six years ago he opened Smoke in West Dallas along with Chris Zielke and Chris Jeffers, and earlier this year they opened the doors to a new location in Plano. Things are going well for the team. Although its…

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