Pitmaster Interviews

Interview: Cliff Payne of Cousin’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Cousin’s BBQ; Opened 1983 Age: 59 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory & Pecan As the name suggests, Cousin’s BBQ is about family. Calvin “Bootsie” Payne III opened the place on McCart Avenue in Fort Worth in 1983 along with his wife and three of his children. His son Cliff Payne has been in charge of the barbecue since they opened the doors, and you can still find him working at the McCart location…

Interview: Ricky Murray of Murray’s BBQ

Owner/ Pitmaster: Murray’s BBQ; Opened 1987 Age: 58 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Hickory and Pecan Ricky Murray handed me a chopped beef and hot link sandwich and lined up several bottles of hot sauce. He makes a good barbecue sauce, but he considers himself more a hot sauce aficionado. Before my meal and our interview ended, he was swirling together sauces to make a custom blend that he swore would go well with the last few bites…

Interview: Bert Bunte of Zimmerhanzel’s Bar-B-Que

Owner/ Pitmaster: Zimmerhanzel’s Bar-B-Que; Opened 1980 Age: 55 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak Bert Bunte is a man of few words. When I stopped in at Zimmerhanzel’s for this interview, he tried to shove it off onto his wife Dee-Dee, but then finally agreed to talk with me in a short window of down time. After the interview, we went back inside into the pit room. There’s a broken thermometer on the door of the pit. Bunte told…

Interview: Nina Sells of Smitty’s Market

Owner: Smitty’s Market; Opened 1999 Age: 64 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak There’s plenty more to Smitty’s Market in Lockhart (formerly Kreuz Market) than the family split that occurred fifteen years ago. Nina Sells grew up in this barbecue joint, and remembers a great deal of the family history. The building itself is a timeline of property acquisition. The original building was built in 1924, but if you’ve eaten there, it was probably in the dining room…

Interview: Ronnie Killen of Killen’s Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: Killen’s Barbecue; Opened 2014 Age: 47 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit, Wood-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Oak, Pecan, Hickory, and Mesquite Last week, we reviewed Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland. It received one of the highest ratings on TMBBQ, which likely wasn’t enough for Ronnie Killen. His goal is to be “The Best Barbecue, Period!” according to the statement printed on the shirts at Killen’s Barbecue. Killen has been working in restaurants for decades. He’s spent most of those years…

Interview: Roy & Tim Hutchins of Hutchins BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Hutchins BBQ; Opened 1978 (current location 1991) Age: Roy 65, Tim 33 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Pecan and Oak Roy Hutchins started his family in the barbecue business in 1978 with a tiny smokehouse in Princeton, Texas. Since then his sons have been involved in running multiple barbecue joints across North Texas, and his youngest son Tim took over the flagship Hutchins BBQ in McKinney in 2005. Since then there have been tragedies to overcome, but…

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