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A Day In The Life Of Meat At Louie Mueller Barbecue

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A testament to the magic of Craigslist: pit boss Tony White and pit apprentice Chris Ramers both answered Wayne Mueller's Craigslist call.
A testament to the magic of Craigslist: pit boss Tony White and pit apprentice Chris Ramers both answered Wayne Mueller's Craigslist call.

This is the first installation of a three-part series on Eater Austin about the guys manning the pits at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, TX. Today, a photo essay on pit boss Tony White and pit apprentice Chris Ramers. Tomorrow and Friday, we'll talk exclusively with owner Wayne Mueller about the barbecue zeitgeist and keeping his family's sixty-plus year barbecue legacy alive.

Pit boss Tony White and pit apprentice Chris Ramers at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas. [Photos: Spencer Selvidge/EATX]

Central Texas barbecue king Wayne Mueller finds all his best pit guys through Craigslist, and they travel from across the United States to study the fine art of smoked meats at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor. Eater Austin sent photographer Spencer Selvidge to follow pit boss Tony White—bearded, above—and pit apprentice Chris Ramers through a very, very early morning of smoking the day's first meats through service at 11 a.m.

White and Ramers have a heavy burden to shoulder: Louie Mueller Barbecue opened more than sixty years ago, and Mueller says it'll be their job to keep his family's barbecue legacy alive. "And in some ways, that's Texas' barbecue legacy," says Mueller, which is all the more interesting since neither of his pit guys is from Texas.

"Every day I wake up and it's the best day of my life," Ramers tells Eater Austin. "Not many people can say that, but I sure as shit can." The Atlanta native moved to Central Texas from Colorado, where he was a health club manager, saying he "just took a leap of faith" that the Mueller pit apprenticeship would work out. "I could stick with a job I didn't love," he says, "or follow my dream. So that's what I did."

Mississippi native Tony White came to Austin from culinary school in Chicago specifically to learn how to do barbecue, starting off at the Driskill Hotel downtown. After answering Mueller's Craigslist call, he joined the Louie Mueller team and in August, he'll have been at the iconic barbecue restaurant for two years. "I wanna cook, basically, Texas soul food," he says. "Barbecue is just taken so seriously here."

Owner Wayne Mueller, who "swears" by Craigslist to find the best guys, says that with chefs like White leaving fine dining to do barbecue, it's "not like barbecue in the backyard."

"It's artisan," says Mueller. "It's not easy to do."

—with Spencer Selvidge

· All Louie Mueller Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]
· All Barbecue Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]
· Louie Mueller Barbecue [Official]

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