Monday, January 6, 2014

The Chronicle’s 1st Invitational BBQ Beef Rib Smackdown

BBQ beef ribs come in many forms........

Yesterday at Palm Door, eleven of Austin’s hottest pitmasters got together for a good old fashioned beef rib smackdown, featuring the often ignored and occasionally maligned barbecued beef rib. It was a primal love fest. I organized the event for a feature article to run soon in the Austin Chronicle, but this post is just a little teaser. Suffice it to say that we eight judges shared an embarrassingly rich bounty of smoky superlative beef ribs for the blind judging. Twisted X was there with excellent craft beers, and Treaty Oak Distillers showed up with a fantastic craft punch, Q made some dynamite queso and guacamole, and Suzanna rode herd on kitchen operations with Q, who did the carving. The pit bosses all got to chat each other up about technique; some had never met before.

The judges:
- Charlie Shirley - VP of Central Texas BBQ Assoc.
- Shayne Lockhart – head of the Star of Texas Rodeo BBQ Cookoff
- Chris Elley – writer, director, producer of BBQ: A Texas Love Story
- Jesse Griffiths – Dai Due chef, nationally known butcher, hunter-gatherer
- Todd Plunk – ManUpTexas
- Nick Barbaro – Chronicle big wig and BBQ expert
- Gerald Mcleod – Chronicle Day Trip column writer, state traveler and appreciator of fine BBQ
- Me – 17 year veteran Chronicle food contributor and huge BBQ fan

Todd (L) and Gerald (R) scope out a numbered entry displayed by Q (C).

Nick "Mr. Math" Barbaro tallies the judges ciphering.

We judged on appearance (10 pts), texture (20 pts), and taste (30 pts), and there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot of point spread that separated the top finishers from each other. MUCH more to come later in the article on Thursday, Jan. 16, print and online editions, along with Jack Anderson’s delicious photographs. Dang....hungry for beef ribs again.......

Meat expert and sausage kingpin Bruce Aidells chats with Lance Kirkpatrick of Stiles Switch about smoking brisket....

Mick Vann ©


  1. Have you tried Stiles Switch at N. Lamar and Brentwood? A friend recommended it as having "the best brisket ever." I wonder if you have an unbiased/professional opinion?

  2. The above was from Nancy, not Morgan!