Take a cold, windy spring Texas day on the
grounds of Houston’s Bayou City Event Center,
add 15 top-notch Texas barbecue joints and mix
in a sold-out crowd of more than 1,200 barbecue aficionados and you have a winning recipe.
The first-ever Houston BBQ Festival kicked off Sunday with a noon VIP reception while hordes of regular folks lined up behind a red plastic rope stretched across the entrance and waited impatiently for their 1 p.m. start time.
“Today, the center of Texas barbecue is Houston, Texas and I expect that will continue,” said Chris Reid one of the architects of the festival event.
Here are some scenes from the big event.
Ray Busch of Ray's Real Pit BBQ tends to some mighty-fine looking barbecue.
Houston BBQ Festival co-founder Michael Fulmer welcomes the hungry crowd.
Ready, set, eat! The crowd races in!
Reed said that the pitmasters braving the winds were not once-a-month cook-off groups, but real barbeque restaurants who smoke every single day, all day. That’s why they’re the “rock stars of BBQ," he said.
Will Buckman of Corkscrew BBQ shows his group's "secret sauce."
The 15 establishments participating in the event came from across the Harris County area and beyond, and included longtime favorites like Pizzitola’s, established in 1935, and upstarts like CorkScrew BBQ from Spring and Fainmous BBQ in Willowbend, both established in 2011.
Other participants included Blake's BBQ, The Brisket House, Brooks' Place BBQ • Burns BBQ, Gary Burns Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Q, Gatlin's BBQ • Gerardo's, Lenox Bar-B-Que, Ray's BBQ Shack, Tin Roof BBQ and Virgie's.
Check out the No Smoking sign at Pizzitola's Barbeque
Richard Palicz of Fort Mojave, Ariz., looks like a satisfied man.
Lenox Bar-B-Que's Terriso Rubio cuts brisket for serving.
James Brooks of Brooks' Place Real Smoked BBQ
Lisa Jordan, left, co-owner of Burns Barbecue
Merchandise on sale at Lenox Bar-B-Que
Dallas barbecue blogger Guy O digs in.
The Palisades provided musical entertainment.
One such notable who gained early admission was Texas A & M professor Jeffrey Savell. He oversees the Meat Science Section of the Department of Animal Science and considers himself a “professional student of bar-b-que."
Savell actually teaches a class to freshman titled "Texas Barbeque" and in the summer leads Camp Brisket. “This is no laughing matter. Barbecue unites people of
different ethnicities and across socio-economic
lines” Savell explained.
“It is extremely difficult to do good barbecue consistently; you have variables in temperature, quality of the animals, and a host of other things”, he continued. “ I always tell my students that if they learn to cook, they’ll always have friends."
Chris Reid and Tim Taylor.
Attendees can't wait 'til next year's festival.