On this week's episode of What's Eric Eating, Billy Durney, the pitmaster and owner of Hometown Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn, joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his career and the Southern Smoke Festival, Chris Shepherd's celebrity chef-fueled fundraiser that returns to Houston on September 30. Durney begins by explaining how a visit to Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas prompted him to leave the world of private security and enter into the restaurant business.
Durney has earned widespread acclaim for Hometown's eclectic menu, including a prestigious Bib Gourmand designation from the Michelin restaurant guide. He'll be showing off his diverse skill set at Southern Smoke; instead of serving his signature beef rib, Durney says he'll be serving ribeye tacos on freshly made flour tortillas with salsa roja. According to Durney, chefs from around the country are intrigued by the possibility of participating in the fourth annual event (get tickets here).
"It's so funny how many of the best chefs in the country want to cook at this event," Durney says. "I'm sure they light up Chris's phone to say, 'hey, we'd love to help as well.' Chris has the beautiful responsibility of peering through his list of very high-end chef friends to bring people out. I think that Chris also brings out the people he feels would attach themselves to this civic-minded concept that we drive so hard in our own communities."
Durney also hints that he likes Houston enough that he's open to the possibility of opening a restaurant here. "I don't know that it would be a barbecue restaurant, but I'm not saying that I wouldn't open a restaurant in Texas or Houston at some point in my career. We're doing a little 40-seat tavern that sells fried chicken and biscuits and a Jewish-inspired deli that does pastrami and stuff."
"We like all of those things here," Sandler assures him.
Prior to Durney joining the show, Sandler and co-host Mary Clarkson discuss the news of their week. Their topics include Ronnie Killen's announcement about his plans to open a Tex-Mex restaurant, the recent shuttering of Maba Pan-Asian Diner, The Rustic's opening date, and The Waffle Bus' plans to open a brick and mortar restaurant in the Heights.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Clarkson explains all of the changes she and chef Olivier Ciesielski made to transform L'Olivier into Avondale Food & Wine. They also share some first impressions of La Lucha, the new restaurant from State of Grace owner Ford Fry and executive chef Bobby Matos. Finally, Sandler dishes on his affection for newly-opened ice cream shop Sweet Bribery.