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Food How Anthony Bourdain Sparked America's Obsession with Texas BBQ

21:16  13 june  2018
21:16  13 june  2018 Source:

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© Travel Channel How Anthony Bourdain Immortalized Texas BBQ

Daniel Vaughn is the preeminent voice on Texas barbecue. On Twitter as @BBQSnob and as the Barbecue Editor for Texas Monthly, he literally spends his life eating and reviewing the state’s ’cue. He claims its now-world famous reputation was greatly burnished when Anthony Bourdain joined him for a meal at Franklin Barbecue in a 2012 episode of No Reservations. Here, Vaughn remembers what Bourdain, who died Friday, did for Texas BBQ.

Franklin Barbecue was getting lines [in 2011 when we filmed], but it wasn’t getting the sort of lines you see today. I got in line early that morning to hold a spot. It was probably 9 a.m. and the line was only 20 people deep. Nowadays at 9 o’clock they’re shutting down the line because everything is already going to be sold out.

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He talked about his daughter and how he’d quit smoking for her. As we left him to head to the rooftop of the Murray Hotel to watch the sun go down, we laughed so hard about the fact we’d gotten so lost that we found Anthony Bourdain !

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Tony showed up 30 minutes later, got out of the van, joined me in line, and immediately said, “So what makes Texas barbecue so special?”

I’m thinking, “Already, man? I’m so intimated and you asked the question? I thought we were going to build up to this."

I already had a book deal with him at Ecco [for The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue], so I felt pretty secure that he was confident in my expertise. But I didn’t want to let him down with this meal, and I know Aaron Franklin wanted the same thing.

It was pretty recent that Kansas City and Oklahoma Joe’s were still basking in the glow of Bourdain, when he had said that Kansas City had the best barbecue in the country after a visit. I felt it was my duty to convince him otherwise.

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Anthony Bourdain , host of the popular CNN food show "Parts Unknown" is filmed at Burns Original BBQ Friday June 10, 2016. With Bourdain are Slim Thug, Red Bone and David Stunts. Photo: Dave Rossman, For The Chronicle.

The local media in Dallas already knew me. They were always saying, “If he’s going to be going on TV more often, he needs to look like he’s having more fun!” But I didn’t want to have fun; I wanted Tony Bourdain to put his stamp of approval on Texas barbecue as the end all, be all.

We ate everything on the menu. So: brisket, ribs, turkey, pulled pork, and sausage, along with beans, slaw, and potato salad. I just let Aaron Franklin’s barbecue do the talking, and I described to Tony why I loved it.

It was 2011. This is back when Franklin was still really new on the scene. Texas barbecue wasn’t nearly as dominant as it is now seen across the country. Bon Appétit had already written about Franklin, but that magazine is mainly for foodies. With the regular eating crowd, what Bon Appétit says isn’t as important as what Tony Bourdain says.

After the episode aired, the media world started immediately paying attention to Texas barbecue. It didn’t hurt that South by Southwest was in Austin every year for journalists and food writers to come through town. Just the ubiquity of that recommendation: Bourdain went to Franklin when he went to Austin, so that’s what you do when you go to Austin.

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"Parts Unknown" host Anthony Bourdain , second from left, was filmed at Burns Original BBQ in June. "This is the best of America " is the message that rings throughout the hour, and Bourdain finds it in what he calls, finally, "a wonderland of the strange and diverse."

After we filmed at Franklin, a few days later, we filmed at JMueller BBQ, before it became La Barbecue. Again, I got in line, I was talking to a few people, asking them what they were going to order. Then, this white SUV shows up, and everybody in line turns toward it as he gets out.

“Oh shi*, it’s Bourdain! Bourdain’s here!”

His power, in a crowd like that, I don’t even know how to describe it. He was so approachable. Then he walks up to me.

“Holy shi*! He’s here for you?!”

He talked to everybody. I think because he allowed that sort of access, people didn’t feel like they needed to rush to get to him. I’ve filmed with other big names in food, and they are ushered in and ushered out. For him there was no question he would stand in line at Franklin the whole time. It was so refreshing.

a group of people sitting at a table eating food: Bourdain in Houston for ’Parts Unknown’ in 2016.© CNN Bourdain in Houston for ’Parts Unknown’ in 2016.

He had also gone to Burns Original BBQ in Houston during A Cook’s Tour in 2003, and he went again two years ago for Parts Unknown. They have no interior seating-it’s just like a lobby you walk into, and you’re standing there while you order. They had this TV screen blaring the segment from A Cook’s Tour, so if it was a long line you’d have to listen to the segment three or four times. It was so loud, almost annoying, but they were so proud of the attention.

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In October, Anthony Bourdain shared with the world his take of Houston, Texas and we've got to admit Burns BBQ is a staple when visiting the city. If you can't make it to Acres Homes, just go to one of "But some of the most interesting stuff is how determined Anthony Bourdain is to not do what' s

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After this latest Houston episode [which aired in 2016], Burns started getting people from all over. Australia, Japan, people who found this great satisfaction at not knowing what to say to order. Just pointing to pictures of the things they wanted. A lot of people from Houston had forgotten about Burns until that episode. That’s part of the reason why I went back and wrote about them after Tony visited.

He just gave Texas barbecue that legitimacy across the entire country. It’s not all because of him, of course, but he certainly helped contribute to it. That legitimacy from him has led to there being Texas barbecue in New York City, Seattle, Phoenix, everywhere really, much of it influenced by Franklin.

I actually just spent the whole last weekend with Tony. I downloaded all these podcast interviews and listened to them as I drove. One was some punk rock podcast. The host was so nervous, but Bourdain was so generous with his time. He was talking about music, his favorite bands. He recommended some punk album I’d never heard of.

And, you know what? I went out and bought the dam* thing!

I don’t care about punk rock, I don’t listen to punk rock, but Tony told me to listen to this punk rock. So you obey.

He just had that impact.

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