Big Barbecue Fight
Ronnie Killen fires back at uppity Austin pitmaster; plans to prove that Houston BBQ is great
Ronnie Killen is fed up. The chef/owner of Killen's Barbecue is tired of seeing Houstonians fawn over Austin-based pitmasters like John Lewis of La Barbecue and John Mueller. On November 16, he'll show Austin that Houston has pretty good barbecue, too, with a one day pop-up at Foreign & Domestic in the state capital.
"These guys from Austin they come and do pop-ups here. They've got great barbecue, but so do we," Killen tells CultureMap. "I think it's going to be by John (Mueller)'s attitude; he made me want to hold a pop-up there."
One of two sons of Texas legend Bobby Mueller in the barbecue business (Wayne Mueller of Mueller's Barbecue in Taylor being the other), John Mueller's famously checkered past was well-documented in a Texas Monthly article. He seemed poised for a bit of a comeback in 2012 until his sister LeAnn abruptly fired him from the business that is now LA Barbecue.
Mueller is out on his own now, and he's spent the past few weeks taunting Killen on Twitter.
. @killensbbq just wondering do you sell bbq or just pose for pictures?..— John Mueller Meat (@JSM_meat) October 18, 2014
"John Mueller is so arrogant," Killen says. When Killen accepted Mueller's invitation to hang out at last weekend's Q for a Cause charity event, he thought he might find that Mueller's online persona was just for attention, but that wasn't the case. "He told me, 'you're in the presence of a legend' and 'you should be doing this, you should be doing that.'"
One day record
Killen says he helped prep some briskets for the smokers but didn't see any reason to stay up all night listening to Mueller's insults. After all, he has his own business to supervise — one that sold over $20,000 worth of barbecue on Saturday alone: a new, one day record for the six month-old restaurant. He also chose to be a good dad and attend his son's final sixth grade football game Saturday afternoon.
Even with all the success at his million dollar restaurant, Killen is still tinkering.
Even with all the success at his million dollar restaurant, Killen is still tinkering. He's submitted plans to the City of Pearland to allow him to seat the outdoor pavilion he built and has his architect working on drawings that will allow him to expand the kitchen and add a to-go window for large orders, which would be good news for office workers who can't stand in line.
As for next month's event, Killen thinks he'll get a good response. "Every time I've done an event in Austin people have been really happy," he observes.
Unhappy with how his Klose pit cooked at the Texas Monthly Barbecue Festival, Killen got out a welder and started tinkering. "The pit is cooking awesome now," he says.
The pop-up will feature brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs and Killen's homemade sausage. Sides will likely be beans and potato salad. Dessert is TBA, but hopefully is Killen's all-world carrot cake.
Austinites, circle November 16 on your calendars. Get to Foreign & Domestic at 11 a.m. Take it from your friends in Houston. An annoyed Ronnie Killen with something to prove is a man whose barbecue you want to eat.