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Master Meat Theater: Texas Monthly's 2011 BBQ Festival

Winners: Aaron Franklin, Nick Pencis, Wayne Mueller
Winners: Aaron Franklin, Nick Pencis, Wayne Mueller

Texas Monthly Barbecue Fest 2011 [Photos: JW Walthall/EATX]

Texas Monthly hosted their second annual Barbecue Festival this Sunday, with Franklin Barbecue unsurprisingly victorious, winning Best Brisket. Stanley's from Tyler won for Best Pork Ribs, while Louie Mueller of Taylor racked up two awards, Best Beef Ribs and Best Sausage.

The event was held at The Long Center, overlooking downtown Austin on a beautiful day to eat meat. Lots of meat. Jake Silverstein, editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly, says attendance at this year's festival was just shy of 3,000 people, more than doubling last year's premiere. He tells Eater, "It was everything we hoped for. It's a dream come true having all these masters all in one place."

Throughout the day the lines were never too bad. The longest were for Snow's BBQ (around 20 minutes), Franklin Barbecue (around 10-15 minutes), and oddly for sweets at The Original Fried Pie Shop (about 10 minutes). A handful of places ran out of samples before the end of the event, but most everyone had their fill. Over fill, rather.

Eater surveyed a few pit masters to see how much meat they brought and what the preparation required. Most all of the joints traveled hours traveling to Austin, pits in tow. Toby Pilgrim of Country Tavern says he lost a lot of sleep this week getting ready. He worked for six weeks getting everything all together (the pit, the orders, the logistics), bringing in about 1,000 pounds of meat. Stan Edgar of Hard Eight also brought about 1,000 pounds, beginning prep the day before. Wayne Coleman of Coleman's towed in about 800 pounds, a mix of brisket, ribs and sausage.

Aaron Franklin spent most of the festival hanging out, enjoying the opportunity to chat with the state's best pit masters. When he won, he walked on stage in style, with a Shiner Bock in hand. Nick Pencis of Stanley's said preparation for the event was a full week of work, his new pit just being delivered on Monday. "It was kind of schizo today. It was a beast," he says of his new toy. Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue said he had no idea he'd win, especially twice. "I'm amazed. My first thought is that my dad would be proud." Starting at his dad's shop when he was 8 years old, Mueller says his goal is to keep the continuity and adding to what his family started.

The day ended with Wayne Coleman asking the Texas Monthly staff, "Can I park my pit at the hotel overnight?" We're sure any hotel staff would welcome that, as long as Coleman shares some of his smoky deliciousness.

· Texas Monthly's BBQ Guide [Official Site]
· All Barbecue Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX

Franklin Barbecue

900 East 11th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 653-1187 Visit Website