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Going forward, a delicate balance for Austin’s Hot Luck Festival

Prime rib galore roasting on spits at the Hot Luck Festival in Austin. Austin’s inaugural Hot Luck Festival of food and music in May attracted 6,500 “patrons,” according to a recent release from the organizers. “Patrons” is an interesting term. In broad form, it includes paying customers as well as those who don’t pay admission, such as guests, clients, sponsors and friends. At Hot Luck’s food events, based on my observations, there were a lot of non-paying attendees. In a follow up email, I asked Courtney Knittel, handling Hot Luck’s public relations, for a breakdown of attendance between the music…
 - 06/18/2017
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Opening night of Hot Luck Austin at Franklin’s

BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn served a nice steak taco at Hot Luck Austin. Hot Luck Austin, the new food festival, officially opened Thursday night at Franklin Barbecue, near downtown. With the State Capitol building visible, the joint’s “back yard” is a great spot for a party. As normal, though, when Posse member Mike Gagne and I arrived a few minutes before the 6 p.m. start, there was a line. We were 40 or so back. But it moved quickly and there was never much backup at the seven chef stations over the next three hours. The event was open only…
 - 05/19/2017
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Why we wait in long barbecue lines

Diners stand in line as they wait to order on a recent Saturday at Cattleack BBQ in Dallas. The idea about barbecue lines started simply enough during our recent visit to Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin. “Why would you wait in line at Franklin when you can get this so close?” Sherry Jacobson wondered as she ate some of Micklethwait’s brisket, every bit as fine as what you could get a few blocks away at world famous Franklin Barbecue. And there was almost no line at Micklethwait. So we assembled an email roundtable of the Posse, all line-standing veterans, to…
 - 05/17/2017
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Great BBQ photos by Austin’s Darren Carroll

Lunch rush at Smitty’s Market, Lockhart, Texas, 2009. (Photo ©Darren Carroll) Our first installment of Focus on BBQ features photos shot by Austin photographer Darren Carroll. This launches an occasional series that will showcase great barbecue images shot by top photographers in the country. Most are friends of the Posse, which was founded in 2009 by a core group of writers & photographers at The Dallas Morning News. Over the years, we’ve had a number of contributing shooters, ranging from top commercial, news and sports photographers, including several Pulitzer Prize winners. Darren has an impressive mix of editorial and advertising clients. You might know his work from…
 - 04/23/2017
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Welcome to our new Texas BBQ Posse website

In Texas, Robert Earl Keen probably comes as close to being the official Bard of Barbecue as anybody we’ve got. You might quibble with his spelling, but not his sentiment: Don’t give me no broccoli Or any Swiss fondue Baby if you want to rock me Give me good ole barbeque And what, you ask, puts us in such a mood for song? After seven years of blogging about smoked meats, the Texas BBQ Posse is launching a full blown Web site about our favorite topic. Don’t worry. Our main mission remains the same. We’ll tell the stories of the people and places…
 - 03/31/2017
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Lights, Camera, Eat BBQ! The Posse — briefly — goes Hollywood

George Clooney and Leo DiCaprio can relax because it’s unlikely anyone from the Texas BBQ Posse will challenge them for leading roles in Tinseltown. Still, we had our brush, very briefly, with video fame. And while nothing came of it — yet, anyway — the experience was great fun so we thought we would share it with you. About a year ago, the folks at 12 Forward Entertainment in Dallas approached the Texas BBQ Posse about making a “pitch” video for a reality TV show based on the Posse. The video would then be used to sell the concept to…
 - 01/02/2017
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Photos: Depression era Texas BBQ through the eyes of legendary FSA photographers

I was recently researching some historic photos when I ran across the Library of Congress website for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) photo archive. Initially created in 1935 as part of the New Deal, the FSA was an effort during the Depression to document and combat American rural poverty. The FSA photo collection houses some of the most famous photographs in history, including Dorthea Lange’s migrant mother photo and Arthur Rothstein’s Oklahoma dust bowl photo. Other legendary FSA photojournalists included Gordon Parks, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans and Walker Evans. I was immediately curious if there were any Texas BBQ photos.…
 - 12/29/2016
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The day the Posse flew Chile’s national flag (oops) and other tales from Blues, Bandits & BBQ

The Posse cook team celebrates after the first Blues, Bandits & BBQ festival in 2010. ([email protected] Hinkle) The Posse has always loved Blues, Bandits & BBQ, the food and music festival held in Oak Cliff. Loyalty is a factor. Some of us lived in the O.C. and the festival does a good job of showcasing a great part of Dallas. We also liked the fellowship of close friends cooking together around the clock and competing against other barbecue teams. Occasionally, winning was a side benefit. So with the seventh annual BB&BBQ coming soon (Nov. 11 and 12 at Kidd Springs…
 - 11/02/2016
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And everywhere the BBQ Posse looked there were other posses

  Member of the Bandera County Young Life BBQ group pose for a photo with legendary Snow’s pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz. (Photo ©Chris WIlkins/Texas BBQ Posse)   My memory isn’t what it used to be, but I was pretty sure we ran into a first — for us anyway — during the Posse’s trip to Snow’s BBQ in Lexington last weekend. We met two groups of fellow barbecue lovers, each wearing special shirts championing their meat-loving pursuits. One group of a half-dozen guys from North Texas wore very nice black and red bowling shirts with the words “BBQ Burnt Ends” above…
 - 10/26/2016
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Cooking up a kosher BBQ storm in Big D

I don’t know who invented the double-barreled lede, but old Charlie Dickens had it down: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” After talking to barbecue competition judge Jennifer Shiflett in advance of the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship next weekend, we found ourselves in need of the same technique. She said there’s no difference in taste between kosher barbecue and regular barbecue. And she wondered if competitors are using too much sauce on some of their entries. Either idea would make a good lede — beginning —  for this blog item. During the interview, we the got…
 - 10/23/2016
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The top 10 posts in the history of the Texas BBQ Posse Blog

Our first trip to Snow’s BBQ in 2009 was a life-changing event for a group of friends. If a milestone occurs and no one notices, is it still a milestone? That question certainly doesn’t rank with the great philosophical barbecue debates — i.e., foil or butcher paper? — but it is something we’re pondering this week. Why? This is the 400th published post since we launched the Texas BBQ Posse blog in March of 2010, six and one-half years ago. The initial post in our Barbecue Chronicles is still one of my favorites. It was about our first trip to…
 - 10/17/2016
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On an eating pilgrimage to Austin, a Californian meets Aaron Franklin and the Posse, and tastes ‘the love’ of Texas BBQ

Steven Hecht visits with La Barbecue pitmaster Dylan Taylor, 21, who was trained by the legendary John Lewis. (Photo ©Tom Fox) Posse Note: During our barbecue tour of Central Texas last weekend, we met Steven Hecht, born in Texas who now lives in California. He said that he’s a regular reader of this blog and he used it to plan his Texas BBQ tour. Of course, after learning that, we asked him to write about his experience. Here is his story: I just returned from my first BBQ Pilgrimage to Austin, Texas and it was a life-changing experience. My name…
 - 01/30/2016
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Barbecue photography the old-fashioned way

Posse member Bruce Tomaso lends a hand with a reflector as photojournalist Guy Reynolds focuses in on Big Daddy’s Ribs & BBQ owner Blake Merrell in Little Elm. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) If you follow this blog, you know it regularly features great barbecue photography. Several Posse members are photographers and they bring their equipment — all kinds of equipment — when we go on tours. Our recent Denton County tour, though, saw the most unusual piece of equipment yet. Guy Reynolds used a tripod mounted Graflex to shoot portraits of some of the pitmasters we visited. On other tours,…
 - 09/03/2014
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See the photos: Good times at the Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival in Tyler

Lockhart Smokehouse pitmaster Damien Avila slices brisket at the Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival. (Photo by Phil Lamb) Several Posse members headed over to Tyler on Saturday for the first annual Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival. Fifteen of the best barbecue restaurants in the state were represented, along with great Texas music all afternoon and evening. The event was held on Tyler’s historic downtown square. Click here to see a list of the 15 All-Star BBQ joints that served attendees of the festival. Judging from what we saw, it was a huge success. Though the event was sold out,…
 - 05/04/2014
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Future Posse member has his first-ever taste of brisket at Pat Gee’s BBQ in Tyler

My daughter Ashley Montgomery and grandson James at Pat Gee’s Barbecue. (Photo ©Chris WIlkins/Texas BBQ Posse) For every Texas barbecue fanatic, there are smoked meat moments that will always be remembered. I was lucky enough to have another of those great memories on Saturday at Pat Gee’s Barbecue outside of Tyler. I remember the first time eating brisket for breakfast with friends at Snow’s BBQ on a foggy Saturday morning in November 2009. That experience forever changed our view of what barbecue could be and led to the birth of Texas BBQ Posse. Every Central Texas BBQ tour we’ve had…
 - 03/30/2014
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A Thanksgiving turkey tribute to Walt and all the grill masters and pitmasters who pass along the tradition

Libby & Gunnar Jacobson at the cabin on Grindstone Island in 1991. With the Posse, I’ve eaten turkey at some of the best barbecue joints in Texas, including Franklin Barbecue in Austin and Stanley’s in Tyler. Their turkey breast is first rate, no question, just like their other smoked meats. But the most memorable turkey I’ve ever eaten still remains Walt Scheela’s, cooked at his cabin on Grindstone Island. The ambiance is important. One of 1,600 islands in Rainey Lake, Grindstone is located about 10 miles East of International Falls, Mn. Look one direction across the water and you see…
 - 11/21/2013
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Posse member Bruce Tomaso nominates Justin and Diane Fourton of Pecan Lodge as Texans of the Year

Diane & Justin Fourton, owners of Pecan Lodge. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Note: The Dallas Morning News editorial department selects a Texan of the Year. Posse member Bruce Tomaso recently nominated Diane and Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge for the honor. With permission, we are reprinting Bruce’s Viewpoints column from The News. By BRUCE TOMASO Wendy Davis can talk on her feet. Ted Cruz can talk with his foot in his mouth. But neither of them can cook a world-class smoked brisket. Neither of them helped change the public face of Texas cuisine. The people who did that are Justin…
 - 11/16/2013
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Making the most of the ‘golden hour’ at Texas Monthly’s BBQ Fest

Pitmaster Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge in Dallas shows off his brisket at the 2013 Texas Monthly BBQ Festival. Note: Posse members Libby and Mike Gagne, who live in Austin, attended Sunday’s Texas Monthly BBQ Festival (TMBBQ Fest 2013), which brings together many of the best joints in the state. Libby and Mike were guests of Phil Winters of FoodyDirect, an Internet food site that advertises on this blog. Here is Libby’s report from the event. We queued up at about 11 a.m. and were admitted to the festival at noon, and enjoyed a “Golden Hour” of reduced lines and…
 - 11/06/2013
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Here’s a new installment of our “BBQ is” pitmasters portrait project

Ben Washington, Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que, Marlin.  (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com) Posse member Daniel Goncalves is back with the next installment of his “BBQ is” pitmaster portrait series. The Dallas-based editorial and commercial photographer has been photographing top pitmasters around the state with a Fuji Instax 210 instant film camera. Sixty seconds later the Polaroid is dry and Daniel has each pitmaster fill in the blank with a sharpie on their portrait, “BBQ is ________.” With this project, Daniel continues to raise the creative bar for both the Posse and Texas BBQ photography. Click here to see our first blog post featuring his…
 - 08/28/2013
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Back for more: BBQ Signs of our Times

Marshall’s BBQ, Garland, Texas. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com) BBQ Signs of our Times is back once again,with more memorable signs from our last trip to Central Texas on the Heart of Texas BBQ Tour and other Posse stops over the past couple of months. This blog post number eight of classic BBQ signs. You can use the search box in the upper right of the Posse blog homepage if you’d like to see some other sign posts, just search “BBQ Signs of Our Times”. If you happen to see a great sign while you’re out on the Texas BBQ Trail, please…
 - 08/09/2013
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Famed writer John T. Edge pens an ode to barbecue in Parade magazine

In Sunday’s Parade magazine, John T. Edge, the noted Southern food writer, weighs in on the nationwide barbecue renaissance. (By the way, if you haven’t seen Parade in a while, you might be stunned to see it today. It’s a deathly shadow of its former self, with a much smaller format and far fewer pages – more like a pamphlet than a magazine.) Edge writes that Americans have “adopted barbecue as our national folk food. … The new question is, how high can barbecue go?” It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read one of these rebirth-of-barbecue articles…
 - 07/22/2013
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Growing up with Aaron Franklin and other Posse tales that deserve a second look

There have been many meals & just as many stories to tell since our first BBQ tour in November 2009. (Photo ©Gary Barber) In the past, we’ve told you about our most popular blog posts and offered a readers’ guide to all the tours we’ve written about in our Barbecue Chronicles. Now, we’re going to give you a short guide to the other end of the Posse blog spectrum. These aren’t our least popular posts. We’ll keep those buried to protect the innocent. But for whatever reason, these posts didn’t receive the attention we thought they would. Maybe the headlines…
 - 07/18/2013
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Confessions of another BBQ Snob*

Bruce Tomaso, right, joins fellow members of the Texas BBQ Posse on our 2013 Best of Texas Tour. (Photo by Tom Fox/DMN) By Bruce Tomaso A few weeks ago, while on a BBQ tour with the Posse, I had an epiphany. It wasn’t a magnificent epiphany. I’m not Archimedes. But it was enough to permanently change the way I approach this quest of ours for “the greatest smoked meats in the greatest state in the Union.” I realized that I’ve become a BBQ snob. I’m not particularly proud of this, but I don’t apologize, either. I’ve simply reached a stage…
 - 07/15/2013
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How Daniel Vaughn, the BBQ Snob, turned himself into the hottest brand in smoked meat

Daniel Vaughn bites into a rib at the Baby Back Shak in 2009. (Photo by David Woo/The Dallas Morning News) (Note: Rebecca LaFlure is a Texas native, long-time barbecue fan and journalism graduate student at Northwestern University. Prior to attending Northwestern, she worked as a reporter for media outlets in Killeen and Austin. She currently covers national security as a fellow at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington D.C. The following article was initially written as a research paper for a 21st Century Media course at Northwestern.) By Rebecca LaFlure On March 21, Texas Monthly announced it hired someone…
 - 07/12/2013
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Stay tuned for a story about Daniel Vaughn, the BBQ Snob, and how he became the No.1 brand in barbecue. . .you will like it

Daniel Vaughn photographs his breakfast at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) We’ve got a treat for you. And since you are all — y’all — Texas barbecue fans, you are used to waiting in lines for the good stuff, right? So, wait just a little longer. Rebecca LaFlure, a Texas native, long-time barbecue fan and graduate student at Northwestern University, did a research paper recently for her  21st Century Media course on branding and how Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly barbecue editor, became the dominant brand in all of barbecue. You might call it, the making of a…
 - 07/11/2013
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