Smoking out Texas is full-time job for first U.S. barbecue critic

Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:23pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Jon Herskovitz

BUFFALO GAP, Texas, (Reuters) - In Texas, with its long traditions when it comes to cooking meat, it seemed inevitable that an arbiter of barbecue like Daniel Vaughn would emerge. The question is why did it take so long?

Vaughn is the first full-time barbecue editor at a major publication in the United States. He was named to his post at Texas Monthly in March 2013, taking up a job that has sent him traveling across the state sampling barbecue, with pit stops at the doctor to check his cholesterol.

"I have got to get my greens wherever I can but they always seem to come loaded with sausage slices," said Vaughn, 36, during a six-stop tour to the Abilene area where the calorie count ran to heart-clogging numbers.

Vaughn only takes a few bites at each stop but the total food up for sampling that day was jaw dropping: six orders of brisket, a half dozen sausages, 10 pork ribs, two orders of smoked chicken, a rib eye steak, a prime rib steak, fried catfish, a bowl of chili, a chopped beef sandwich, more than a dozen side orders and four desserts.

Oh, and green beans with sausage bits.

Barbecue had its origins as a humble food, but these days Texas barbecue joints range from sleek gourmet restaurants in major cities to hole in the wall joints on dust-strewn prairies. One of the most praised, Franklin Barbecue in Austin, is in an unpretentious building serving meat on butcher paper.

At first glance, Vaughn seems an unlikely candidate for what many consider one of the most-coveted jobs in Texas. First of all, he is from Ohio, a state not known for its barbecue. Second, he is a trained architect.

But Vaughn was also one of the premier barbecue bloggers before taking up his current job, and the author of a book called "The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue". He uses the handle "BBQSnob" for his Twitter feed.   Continued...

Cody Johnson holds "The Trio", a three meat sandwich featuring jalapeno sausage, pulled pork and sliced brisket, at Stillwater Barbeque in Abilene, Texas, December 5, 2014.    REUTERS/Mike Stone