Pitmaster Interviews

Interview: Johan Fritzell of Holy Smoke BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Holy Smoke BBQ; Opened 2014 Age: 43 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak Swedes love to grill, but low-and-slow, Texas-style barbecue is a concept so foreign that only one restaurant in the country serves it. They opened in 2014 when Johan Fritzell turned his passion into a rural barbecue stop in a field in southwestern Sweden, one and a half hours north of Copenhagen. Holy Smoke BBQ is a restaurant as well as a smoker dealer, serving as a…

Interview: John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse

Owner/Pitmaster: 4 Rivers Smokehouse; Opened 2009 Age: 49 Smoker: Gas-fired rotisserie Wood: Hickory Sitting with a 2003 copy of the Texas Monthly Top 50, John Rivers occupied a table inside Rusty Taco in Dallas waiting for me. His travel schedule didn’t allow for a barbecue lunch, so bacon, eggs, cheese, and avocado on a tortilla became the best option. Austin was his afternoon destination where he would meet his team from 4 Rivers Smokehouse based in Winter Park, Florida. They…

Interview: Tomas Limon II of Quality Packers

Owner/Pitmaster: Quality Packers; Opened 1974 (restaurant in 2014) Age: 75 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Oak, Hickory, and Mesquite Tomas Castillo Limon II is a native of San Antonio, but moved to Victoria in the sixties to get closer to his favorite fishing holes, and to get away from a bad lifestyle he’d created for himself in the big city. His experience as a meat cutter would serve him well. In Victoria, he founded Quality Packers, a meat packing…

Interview: Lolis Elie

Author: Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country Age: 52 In the mid-nineties, Lolis Elie and photographer Frank Stewart travelled around the country eating barbecue for the book Smokestack Lightning. There aren’t many books as influential to my writing about barbecue than Smokestack. Sharing barbecue with Frank Stewart in Lockhart was a treat a couple years back, and last month I had the opportunity to do the same with Lolis Elie when I was…

Interview: Kevin Bludso of Bludso’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Bludso’s BBQ; Opened 2008 Age: 50 Smoker: Steel offset smoker and gas-fired rotisserie smoker Wood: Red oak, pecan, apple, and mesquite charcoal Kevin Bludso’s roots are in Compton, but he earned his barbecue chops in Corsicana, Texas. His great aunt, Willie Mae Fields, ran a semi-legal barbecue business at a local gas station on the weekends. Every summer, Kevin’s parents shipped him out of Compton to Corsicana to stay in the country with his aunt, and he gradually…

Interview: Evan LeRoy of Freedmen’s Bar

Pitmaster: Freedmen’s Bar; Opened 2012 Age: 29 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Post Oak Even at his young age, Evan LeRoy doesn’t want for confidence. He once told viewers of American Grilled, a cooking show he was competing on, that “I can cook anything to perfection on any grill.” It was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but he’s certainly good with a smoker. As a formally trained chef, there’s also plenty more he can join a kitchen that just barbecue. LeRoy…

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