Kevin's BBQ Joints

Kevin's BBQ Joints Blog

Q & A with Diane Fourton – Pecan Lodge – Dallas, Texas

Last month Guy Fieri and the crew from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives featured Pecan Lodge on it’s BBQ Road Show episode. Independently owned and operated by Justin & Diane Fourton, Pecan Lodge specializes in authentic BBQ and southern comfort food with an emphasis on scratch-made recipes enhanced by fresh, local ingredients. Cult favorites include Burnt Ends (off menu, when available), The Hot Mess, Southern Fried Chicken, and Aunt Polly’s Banana Pudding.


Photo of “Boss Lady” Diane Fourton

As I’m curious about the “Triple D” effect on restaurants (especially BBQ Joints), I thought I’d do a quick interview with Diane to get her insight into actually having their restaurant featured on this Food Network juggernaut.

Q. What was it like to find out that DDD wanted to feature you on their show?

A. Well at first we thought it was a prank. Then, when it started to sink in, it felt sort of dreamy and surreal. We looked at each other and thought: “How in the world did they even find us??”


The Pecan Lodge Family

Q. When was the episode actually filmed?

A. Early December, 2011


Guy with Justin and Diane

Q. What was it like having the crew there? Any funny moments?

A. The crew (Citizen Pictures and MatchCut Productions) was stellar. They spent 3 days with us and made everything feel so relaxed and fun. I don’t ever recall feeling nervous at all. It was such a great experience. Guy is much like you might expect- energetic and funny. But he definately knows his stuff and he’s very passionate (very serious, actually) about BBQ. He has nicknames for each of his crew members. He gave us nicknames as well. Guy calls Justin “Marlboro Man”. I told him he could just call me “Boss Lady”. Everyone else does. ;-)


Close-up of their brisket

Q. What was the next day (after the air date) like? Did you do anything special to prepare?

A. We weren’t sure exactly what the impact would look like, but conservatively, we figured we’d get a little bump at least that first week after the show aired. So in preparation, we leveraged our background in management consulting to forecast incremental purchase/cost estimates and staffing plans. We needed a game plan that would afford us the flexibility to scale up and back as needed, to meet demand without over-shooting, to really make the most of the opportunity. In hindsight, I’m so thankful we took the time to create that plan of action because we had NO IDEA how crazy things were about to get! Nothing could’ve truly prepared us. Turns out, a lot of people watch that show. A WHOLE LOT o’ people, y’all.


Ribs and Sausage

Q. What has life at the Pecan Lodge been like since? Still swamped?

A. It has been freakin’ awesome. And terrifying. Such a tremendous blessing. The best thing that’s ever happened to our business. You know, about this time last year, we were weeks (if not days) away from closing our doors at one point? But we hung in there somehow, and by the grace of God, we kept this place going. Dallas kept this place going. I don’t have words to express the depth of our gratitude at this moment.


Another shot of their brisket

Q. Any future plans for the Pecan Lodge? Wondering if you plan on expanding due to this?

A. Lots of folks are asking that question. At some point, we might consider a full service location, where folks could stop by for dinner. For now though, we’re focused on making sure Pecan Lodge at the Dallas Farmers Market meets its full potential. And ensuring, on a daily basis, for ourselves, our staff and our customers, that it was worth the wait.


Guy, Rob, and Daniel

Q. Any message for future DDD featured restaurants or those that are coming up in very near future episodes?

A. Get a good night’s sleep. Get your game face on. Embrace the crazy. That’s my message.


Close-up of The Hot Mess

Have you been to Pecan Lodge (before or after the airing of their episode)? What are your thoughts?

You can find Pecan Lodge here:

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Bigmista’s Barbecue Visit – Sherman Oaks, CA

Got a chance to head over to see my friend Neil Strawder of Bigmista’s Barbecue on Tuesday at the Sherman Oaks Farmers Market. I got the Bigmista Plate along with a few additional items.


Neil smiling per usual


Hot link and Brisket


Pork Rib and pulled pork


Rib-Eye


Turkey


Pulled chicken


Another shot of the pulled pork

His food was spot on as usual. Loved the pulled pork and brisket. The pulled chicken was definitely a unique way to serve it and had a nice, somewhat spicy (yet used lightly to coat) sauce that added to the richness of the flavor. Note that his hot link is really on the spicy side so be sure to have a cold beverage handy. The only sides I tried (not photographed though) were the slaw and beans. The slaw is mellow with hints of pineapple and the beans have a husky flavor with a backbone of molasses. I realized, on my drive away, that I had forgotten to get BBQ sauce, but after about five bites of the meat I knew that his BBQ doesn’t require sauce at all.

You can visit him every Tuesday from 3PM to 8PM in Sherman Oaks here:

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You can see all of the locations he vends his BBQ at HERE

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Best in Smoke – Amy Mills Tunnicliffe Interview

The finale for Best in Smoke on the Food Network ends this Sunday, so I wanted to sit down with one of the judges, Amy Mills Tunnicliffe for a little behind the scenes information. See her responses below and be sure to check out the finale to see who wins the $ 50,000 prize!


(clockwise from top):Bryan Caswell, Mitchell Davis, Amy Mills Tunnicliffe, and Tim Love

Could you give me a little insight into what it was like judging this show?
Judging Best in Smoke was a tremendous experience. The set was spectacular … with the Statue of LIberty looming over us and the dramatic New York City skyline as the backdrop. We were on set from 5:00 am to midnight or later every day. The judges and hosts were filming stand-ups while the contestants were slaving over the hot pits. Not at all glamorous! I couldn’t even count the number of crew … the production company was top-notch and incredibly professional and organized.

Had you ever judged a TV show before?
I’ve judged the best of the best of barbecue contests, from Memphis in May {I was a finals judge this year–thrilling!} to the Jack Daniel’s World Invitational Barbecue Cooking Contest. It’s one thing to write down your opinion on an anonymous scorecard and a whole different thing entirely to critique someone’s food face-to-face, knowing it’ll be broadcast on television and your words will be captured for posterity. We took the judging process very seriously and we each talked extensively about the food as we tasted each entry. Due to the time allotted for the show, most of that is cut in the editing process and each judge is left with maybe a sentence each. I wish the viewers could’ve seen more of the judging process.

We also walked through each person’s kitchen at various points during the cook. We were able to ask questions and observe what they were doing. It was interesting to see how that translated to the end product. Sometimes clever ideas, such as Brad and Brooke using the sugar from the donuts to coat strawberries, didn’t execute so well. Sometimes things we thought would never work ended up tasting really good.

Viewers who are part of our barbecue community should remember that this was never billed as a strict barbecue contest with the rules and procedures to which we’re accustomed. It’s a cooking show!

WI had an interview with Bryan (the host) and he seemed to lend that this was more tried and true BBQ than other bbq based tv shows, is that the case from your perspective?
The definition of “barbecue” is fairly broad here. Time is tight for many of the challenges and there is a a lot of grilling with some traditional barbecue, too. We judges decided that the words “meat and fire” pretty much summed it up.

The contestants knew the format and they were asked to submit a number of recipes for consideration. They were prepared for the challenges and the types of food they might be cooking.

The show is designed to appeal to a wide viewing audience who have made shows like Chopped and Top Chef Masters popular. Even though it’s not strict competition barbecue as defined by some of our more fanatical barbecue friends, I hope the barbecue community will embrace it in the spirit in which it is portrayed and support our friends who are competed tirelessly on the show. The contestants were top-notch and totally represented. The barbecue community should be exceedingly proud of them.

What should I know about BIS that people might not glean from the 30 second promo?
The level of skill and expertise possessed by the contestants was unsurpassed. The difficulty of the challenges, limited ingredients, extreme weather and short cook times will make for exciting television.

Lastly, they said there were challenges that involved racing around Manhattan. Did they go to any bbq joints or bbq carts?
I cannot divulge that information … you’ll need to watch and see what happens! The finale is fast-paced. Really, you could have had an episode about each particular challenge … so many things happen that don’t make the screen.

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New BBQ Joint – Chicago Q – Chicago, IL – Steve Dolinsky

Steve Dolinsky, Food Reporter for ABC 7 Chicago, always writes about amazing food happenings in Chicago as well as around the country. You should definitely follow him on twitter or at the very least read his Adventures in Urban Eating blog.

On Friday he did a write-up about a new BBQ Joint in Chicago called Chicago Q. It’s one of the many upscale “urban” BBQ joints that are cropping up in big cities across the country (it does seem though that Chicago is having a BBQ renaissance at this time with the large number of joints opening up all at once).


Photo courtesy of Steve Dolinsky

One thing that may peak a number of hard core BBQ aficionados is who is the chef partner behind this venture, none other than Lee Ann Whippen. Lee Ann runs the Wood Chicks BBQ team, owns the restaurant Wood Chicks BBQ, and was a featured competitor on the first season of BBQ Pitmasters. From Steve’s article, “Lee Ann Whippen masters her shoulder and butts as well as anyone else in town. The Virginia-based competition barbequer recently opened up Chicago q in the Gold Coast, and like Lillie’s Q in Bucktown, is going for the “urban barbeque” vibe – nice booze, good music, comfortable chairs and a dining room that could only have been pulled off by a serious interior decorator.”


Photo courtesy of Steve Dolinsky

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BBQ Joints – Real Exposure – Diner’s, Drive-Ins, & Dives

Interesting article at the Kansas City Star about the power of Guy Fieri’s show on the Food Network, Diner’s Drive In’s and Dives. I’ve always wondered the impact that this show had on the joints and restaurants they featured.


Guy with the team at Johnny’s BBQ.

They started with the Mission location of Johnny’s Hickory House BBQ which was featured on the July 25th episode entitled ‘Kansas City Barbecue Tour‘. Per the article “the owner of Johnny’s, which also has a location in Olathe, says business is booming after getting a few minutes in the national spotlight.” A few minutes. That’s crazy. Guess good news travels fast, especially when it deals with BBQ.


A plate of Johnny’s BBQ

“It’s like winning the lottery here,” said Bob Palmgren, owner of RJ’s Bob-Be-Que, another BBQ Joint featured on the same episode. “Who wouldn’t want their business to double or triple? That’s what we’re doing here.”
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Spring Creek BBQ – Bourdain

Alright, I’m a sucker for seeing just about any type of BBQ on TV. So I was more than pleased to see some BBQ mixed into one of my favorite shows, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. It was a show on Maine, so you’d probably expect the usual suspect of lobster, clams, and fish, but not brisket, pork butt, and BBQ prime rib.

Check it out here:

Then, as the internet will generally have it, I stumbled upon this little piece of knife wielding artistry when searching for the above youtube clip. It’s a similar joint name, just in a different part of the country. This is Matt Barrett, the Grand Champion from 2008 showing his skills at Spring Creek Barbecue in Texas (one of their locations).

Food looks good at either location, but the Maine location seems like a journey I’d like to take some day. It’s not often you get to snowmobile to get BBQ.

Food Wars – BBQ

Travel Channel’s new kid on the block Food Wars decided to head over to Lockhart, Texas for a battle over two of their famous joints: Kreuz Market and Smitty’s Market . All I can say is this episode made me extremely hungry and ready to book a flight tomorrow for Texas.

Here’s the piece on Kreuz Market:

…and here’s a link to the bit on Smitty’s Market: BBQ

Since I’ve never been lucky enough to hit either spot, so I can’t give an opinion…yet, but I do know that you can get Kreuz shipped to your house via their store. That’ll be happening in the near future so I can at least weigh in on the subject. If you were wondering, Smitty’s slightly beat out Kreuz, but many believe Black’s BBQ, also in Lockhart, should have been a contender too.