Pitmaster Interviews

Interview: Dirk Miller of Miller’s Smokehouse

Pitmaster: Miller’s Smokehouse, opened 2008 Age: 48 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smoker Wood: Oak Dirk Miller has never been this busy in his life. He called me from a van outside of his barbecue joint so nobody would bug him. He hasn’t taken a vacation in years, and he paces the floors of his barbecue joint Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton at night worrying about tomorrow’s meat. He’s also never been happier. He left a good job with…

Interview: Travis Mayes of Meshack’s Bar-Be-Que

Pitmaster: Meshack’s Bar-Be-Que, opened 2009 Age: 64 Smoker: Wood-fired Brick Smoker w/ gas assist Wood: Pecan It was a Monday morning and Meshack’s was closed like normal. Travis and I had arranged this time to meet since the tasks to get ready for Tuesday were pretty slow-paced. There were two would-be customers leaving the window when I arrived. They looked forlorn that the place was closed, but Travis assured me they were locals who should know better. As we…

Interview: Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88

“The further west I go, the more I seem to like the barbecue.” That’s a curious way for a native of North Carolina to start off a press conference, but NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. was just being honest. He doesn’t much care for the pulled pork barbecue of his home state. In fact, he has ribs delivered to his house in Mooresville, North Carolina from Rendezvous in Memphis; proof of which can be seen…

Interview: Al Plaskoff of Big Al’s Smokehouse

Owner: Big Al’s Smokehouse, Opened 1973 Age: 69 Smoker: Wood-fired rotisserie Wood: Hickory I sat down with Al and his daughter Lauran Weiner to talk about the history of Big Al’s, the Plaskoff family and a little Dallas barbecue history. Al Plaskoff fell into the barbecue business. He wasn’t from a storied barbecue family, but rather came from a background in meat sales. Lauran’s mother is a Rosenthal and is related to Manny Rosenthal. The Rosenthal Meat Center at…

Interview: Roy Jeffrey of R&G Bar-B-Que

Owner/Pitmaster: R&G Bar-B-Que, opened 1990 Age: 69 Smoker: Wood-fired offset smoker Wood: Oak When Roy Jeffrey started working at the City Market in Luling back in 1954 he had a full head of black hair. At sixty-nine years of age it looks like he hasn’t lost a single one. When I asked him how he stayed looking so young, he told me “that’s what happens when you eat fat barbecue and drink cold beer.” He also noted that…

Interview: Chad Decker of Hard Eight BBQ

General Manager: Hard Eight BBQ, opened 2003 Age: 40 Smoker: Wood-fired cookers and gas-fired rotisseries Wood: Mesquite Dale Earnhardt Jr. held a charity event at the Hard Eight BBQ location in Roanoke last week. I arrived early before the press conference and sat down with Chad Decker who opened the first Hard Eight BBQ with his wife and in-laws ten years ago. Since then it has grown into a small chain of three restaurants. It’s pretty incredible that ten…

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