Burning questions with the Brotherton Black Iron BBQ – Texas Monthly
This article is one of a series that highlights Texas pitmasters in their own words, available exclusively to TM BBQ Club members.
After a false start, John Brotherton resolved to devote his life to the barbecue. He quit his full-time job as a debt collector in 2016 and hasn’t looked back. Brotherton partnered up with Kelly Gerry, owner of the former Black Iron Eats, and together they brought tasty barbecue classics and inventive dishes to Pflugerville.
Tell me about the first person who told you about barbecue.
I am a hundred percent self-taught. I was exposed to barbecue from a young age, but learned to cook it myself. When I was a kid my mom worked in a barbecue company and my biological dad was a welder who frequently made barbecue pits. We had a barbecue he did in our garden.
Do you remember a backyard or barbecue that sparked your barbecue obsession?
I love the ground beef sandwiches at Brick’s Bar-BQ, where my mom worked, and Anderson’s Bar BQ, both in Liberty, TX. The two places are no longer there.
What message are you trying to convey to your customers through your food?
We pay a lot of attention and attention to our food. We buy our meats from a small family business. I bring bread from all over the country and local bakers. Everything is done from scratch. I want to give you a taste in your mouth and also give you that nostalgic bite that takes you back to your favorite barbecue experiences.
As a professional pitmaster, are you a BBQ Freak like the rest of us?
I have visited all the BBQs on the Top 50 lists for 2013 and 2017, and most of the Top 25 for 2015 and 2019. I eat someone else’s barbecue at least once a week.
When was the last time you ate someone else’s barbecue?
Two days ago at Interstellar BBQ.
What’s the most surprising barbecue dish you’ve eaten?
Khoi Barbecue’s Panang Beef Prime Rib in Houston. UNBELIEVABLE!
What’s the best drink to go with a barbecue?
Iced tea or Diet Dr Pepper. I don’t drink alcohol or Big Red.
What tool do you use for cooking that doesn’t seem like an obvious barbecue tool?
I use a deep fryer basket to separate the coals from the ashes.
What recommendations do you have for someone new to Texas?
If you go to a barbecue restaurant and have a bad experience, try again. You can’t be perfect every time. Let the cutter or order taker know exactly what you want. If you like Rudy’s extra moist brisket, be sure to order it the same at any other barbecue you go to. If you can talk to the people setting up your barbecue and check out the pit hall, it will make your experience even better.
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