John Mueller, the cranky pitmaster known for his occasional Twitter shenanigans, spoke to Texas Monthly as part of barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn’s interviews. Mueller talked about his long fabled family history with barbecue out in Taylor, Texas, his Austin ventures, working with Aaron Franklin, and that whole Dark Prince of Barbecue moniker. Here are the 11 best lines from the interview.
On working with his father, famous pitmaster Bob Mueller, when he was younger: "Yeah. Dad would take the grates outside and scrape them. I was inside the pit. I’d crawl up in the little hatch and start shoveling."
On being a salesman during his short stint selling groceries at Alliance Food Services: "I hated it. I became what I hated most – a salesman. That’s just not me. ‘Buy my f—ing groceries, dammit!’ It doesn’t work that way."
On Aaron Franklin’s job at John Mueller BBQ: "He said ‘My parents used to be in the barbecue business.’ I told him 'You said the right thing. Used to be in the barbecue business. Now go cut squash.’ I bet I was about halfway into a bottle of Weller’s by then."
On why he didn’t call his barbecue trailer a generic name: "Hell no. I’m famous. That’s why I call it John Mueller’s."
On attempts to get him to feud with Aaron Franklin: "And everyone wanted to poke the bear between he and I. They all wanted that showdown that was never going to happen."
On the expectations on his personality and public figure: "It has become a persona. If you come out here, you know I’m not the Dark Prince of barbecue most of the time."
To a passerby who started to walk around the grounds: "I don’t walk around in your backyard. Go order some food."
On serving Anthony Bourdain one day: "Do you want me to be honest? He and I were probably in the same shape that morning."
On the barbecue scene in Austin today: "It makes it hard on people like me. These guys are creative. What am I going to do? Throw some Sriracha on coleslaw and say I’m a gourmet chef?"
On cooking a single brisket well versus cooking barbecue on a larger scale: "Do that every day, then do it well every day. That’s a whole different conversation."
On Vaughn eating some of Mueller’s "burned" cooking: "Thanks, a–hole."