The Devil And John Mueller

John Mueller hated the word pitmaster. We used to laugh at how common the usage of the word had become over the last few years. If you can fire up a bag of Kingsford charcoal you’re a pitmaster these days.

I didn’t start regularly eating Texas barbecue until the 80s but back then when we talked about the men who smoked the meat we called them pitbosses. Continue Reading

Rest in peace Vencil Mares

Old school barbecue man Vencil Mares of Taylor Cafe in Taylor, Texas has passed. How old school was Mr Vencil? He opened his barroom slash barbecue joint in 1948 and was involved in running the operation as owner until his death earlier this week.

That’s 71 years.

We last visited him in August of this year and had a fine feast for roughly $5. That fiver netted us two pluperfect Bohunk sausages with a full spread of cold onions, dill pickles and that signature sauce whose recipe people begged for like scurvy dogs.

Vencil Mares was born in the hinterlands of Fayette County on November 10, 1923 to Stan Mares and Lexie Zimmerhanzel- Mares. He died on November 24, 2019 in Taylor.

We were lucky to eat at Mares’ table since the late 80s when we began venturing up to Taylor in search of new barbecue as we were plumb tuckered out on what the Austin scene had way back then.

We’d rotate between Louie Mueller’s and Vencil’s old joint.

Texas hot guts and oak-smoked brisket always landed on our plates in those halcyon days.

Mr Mares was honored by the city of Taylor on November 10th of this year and was given the keys to the city. Henceforth that day will always be known as ‘Vencil Mares Day.’

Bohunk sausage at Taylor Cafe

2018 Brady Texas World Championship Barbecue Goat Cook Off

I retired from judging the big Brady, Texas World Championship Barbecue Goat Cook Off a few years back. I had a good long run out in the dead middle of Texas but when eating 5lbs of meat became a chore I backed off and made room for someone with a more capacious gullet.

I never looked back. Attending as a civilian is more fun that working the judges table; you have time to bond with the cooking teams, and kick back under the towering live oaks of Richards Park.

Only the good lord knows how many hundreds of cans of Keystone Light were drunk last weekend in Brady.

Here’s our field report.

Andy Cook is a longtime competitor at the Brady Goat Cook Off

It’s a 558 mile drive from New Orleans to Brady, Texas but it’s one we make every year over the Labor Day weekend. The World Championship BBQ Goat Cook Off has been held annually in the garden spot of McCulloch County, Texas every single year since 1973. We were latecomers to the party and did not begin attending til the mid-90s. Continue Reading

Texas pit boss Brian Mays

Brian Mays has weathered a hundred storms. The old Texas pit boss has been standing over hardwood pit fires in East Austin for decades, and he’s not retreating any time soon. On our rare visits back home we always make sure to run into Sam’s Barbecue for a half chicken plate and some good conversation.

It doesn’t hurt that Johnnie Taylor is on the hi fi and if you squint at the walls just right you can pretend like it’s 1988 all over again.

If someone offered you $3 million for your tiny barbecue restaurant would you take it? Brian Mays said no.

Bart Watson, Chief Economist of the Brewers Association in Boulder has created a mashup of two things near and dear to the bosom of the Scrumptious Chef crew: Texas barbecue and cold draft beer.

Texas Monthly dropped their Top 50 barbecue joint list this morning and Watson went into hyperdrive creating an interactive google map featuring each licensed brewery in the great state plus all 50 of the barbecue joints.

Now if we could just figure out why Micklethwait Craft Meats didn’t finish in the no.1 spot.

Here’s Bart Watson’s Twitter

Pitboss Scott Morales At Taylor Cafe

Scott Morales has been the pitboss at Taylor Cafe in Taylor, Texas for over a decade. We go here for handmade Bohunk sausage and briskets cooked over post oak fires. Vencil Mares is the owner of the old joint (est. 1948) but it’s Mr Morales who shepherds the meat from raw to a state of extreme deliciousness.

Morales runs through a half ton of brisket per week at the old smokehouse, and just like any other barbecue restaurant, Taylor Cafe has its good days and its bad days.

Here’s our field report from last summer.