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Competition BBQ vs. Restaurant BBQ

Just wondering, if you put the best restaurant bbq up against the best competition bbq, which would win?  If you were to take Franklin's brisket for example and compare it against a national champion brisket, would Franklin's win out?  Reason I'm curious is because I was watching a youtube video of Aaron Franklin making his brisket.  It looks great, but the way he cooks it seems very basic; it's pretty much what every other bbq joint in the country does.  He just puts it in a pit, wraps it half way through then pulls it when he thinks it's done.  I don't get how that could come close to the kinds of elaborate briskets you see from guys on the competition circuit.  Adam Perry Lang, for example, who's done both competition and restaurant, has a brisket recipe in Serious Barbecue that has a dizzying amount of steps with multiple layers of flavor: paste; rub; smoke; spray; foil with mixture; cooler; glaze; cook; glaze again etc.  Same is true of his competition winning Pork Butt recipe.  Seems to me that a restaurant concerned with having to make an entire menu for hundreds of people simply couldn't put in the time and effort necessary to pull off that kind of cook.  So, though I've never had Franklin's, my hunch is that the competition style would win out.  But I really have no idea.  Anybody have experience trying both?  Very curious about this.
Southern California

Comments

  • In my opinion, BBQ is a personal thing. Every person will have a different response. Which explains why there are SO many BBQ restaurants and teams. 

  • DMWDMW Posts: 12,117
    "Better" is subjective. You probably would prefer an entire meal of high quality restaurant BBQ vs a meal of competition BBQ. In competition the judge will probably only have 1 bite of what you turn in. You have one bite and one bite only to make an impression. The judge will be tasting lots of food during judging. So you probably want to make yours stand out in some way, almost over the top. 


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  • SoCalTimSoCalTim Posts: 2,151
    edited April 2014
    Read an article about Aaron Franklin .. here's a short snippet of an article I read about him. (I tried to post a link, but it didn't work) ..

    'part of Franklin’s secret: his hormone- and antibiotic-free beef—uncommon for a barbecue joint—seems to behave a little differently on the pit; the fat, in particular, yields more readily to low heat than the denser fat found in the usual over-the-counter brisket.'
    I've slow smoked and eaten so much pork, I'm legally recognized as being part swine - Chatsworth Ca.
  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 938
    I think most restaurants take a fairly safe route, so no big seasoning in rub or sauce.  I bet if you don't have a bland palate you probably prefer your own cooking.

    Gerhard
  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 498
    edited April 2014
    @SoCalTim - That's interesting.  At least that's something that sets him apart.  I know how amazing Franklin's is supposed to be; it's just hard for me to imagine someone doing the same thing that everyone else does (smoke, wrap, pull) being that much better than every other BBQ joint in the country.  When I look at competition recipes I get it.  I've made Adam Perry Lang's competition stuff, and it completely obliterates any restaurant BBQ I've had.  The amount of steps involved in one of those recipes is just absurd, but the final product is on a totally different level than restaurant BBQ.  Still, I read somewhere the other night that Aaron Franklin is considered the best brisket cook in the country.  Granted, that's a subjective opinion and it probably didn't come from a very reputable source; nonetheless, that perception exists.  It just had me wondering, is that designation being made as compared to other BBQ joints?  Or does the comparison include the guys that are winning competitions?  Cause I just can't see a basic restaurant brisket thrown in a pit wrapped and pulled beating out competition style.  
    Southern California
  • SoCalTimSoCalTim Posts: 2,151
    @bicktrav - I can't seem to post a link here for the article, if no one minds I'll post the full (shortish) article as presented in 'Texas Monthly' magazine.

    'Pitmaster: Aaron Franklin, age 35 

    Method: Post oak; indirect-heat pit 
    Pro tip: Waiting in the long line can be fun; even more fun is ordering ahead of time. The minimum is five pounds, but best of all is getting a whole brisket (around $100; try your luck at least two weeks in advance). Pick it up at ten-thirty and waltz through the impatient masses with your bounty. 

    The best barbecue joint in Texas is only four years old. This is an unusual development, but one that will surprise no one familiar with Franklin Barbecue, which, since opening in 2009, in a trailer off Interstate 35, has built a cult following for its meats. Has any other restaurant in Texas history had a consistent two-hour wait, outside, in the elements, year-round, six days a week? Franklin’s current location is a cozy old brick building (it used to be Ben’s Long Branch Bar-B-Q) with cement floors, sixties-era decor, and a sound system that pumps out a steady diet of laid-back country tunes. In two years, this site has become an Austin landmark, as synonymous with the city as the Armadillo World Headquarters once was. On a recent visit we met a guy from overseas who claimed to know nothing else about the state capital except that it was home to this magnificent restaurant. 

    The root cause of the mania is simple: Aaron Franklin (who runs the joint with his wife, Stacy) has achieved with his brisket a level of perfection that is rare for any cook to attain with any food, let alone one so notoriously difficult to master. The Franklin brisket (all-natural beef smoked for twelve to eighteen hours) comes out profoundly flavorful and moist with a rich, dark, salty-peppery crust and a rim of sublime, flawlessly rendered fat. This, in fact, is part of Franklin’s secret: his hormone- and antibiotic-free beef—uncommon for a barbecue joint—seems to behave a little differently on the pit; the fat, in particular, yields more readily to low heat than the denser fat found in the usual over-the-counter brisket. That may sound overly technical, but just put it in your mouth: it’s nothing short of astounding how good this meat is. The lean brisket is more tender than most joints’ fatty slices. As for the burnt ends, well, we are unashamed to say that we’d sell our soul for a pile of them. No brisket was ever less in need of assistance, but Franklin’s espresso sauce—deep and velvety, with a subtle sweetness—is a remarkable complement to his beef. Together, the two make a knee-buckling marriage of flavors. So after enjoying several unadorned slices, go ahead and dip one. It’s okay. 

    Part of what makes Franklin so good is his unbelievable consistency with brisket. But he’s no one-trick pony. The meaty pork ribs have a delicious pepper-rimmed crust, and the beef-and-pork sausage, made locally to his specifications, has a great snap. (This is the only possible gripe we can find with Franklin Barbecue—the sausage isn’t made in-house.) Drifting outside the Central Texas canon, Franklin offers pulled pork that’s tender and smoky, with a dash of vinegar sauce. The turkey, a meat we normally avoid, is infused with smoke flavor and has a great crust; on a recent visit slices stayed moist for an impressive 45 minutes. Other not-to-be-missed signature offerings include the Tipsy Texan sandwich (chopped beef and sausage piled very high with slaw) and a heady bourbon-banana pie. 

    It is inevitable that there will be backlash when any restaurant reaches the heights that Franklin Barbecue has attained (earlier this year Bon Appétitnamed it one of the country’s twenty most important restaurants, a list that also included fancy-schmancy New York eateries like Le Bernardin, Balthazar, and Momofuku). But this meat is worth every bit of praise it has received—and every hour you spend waiting to eat it. Experiencing Franklin Barbecue right now is like watching Lance Armstrong or Barry Bonds at their performance-enhanced best, when they seemed to magically tower over everyone else. Except Aaron Franklin is doing it clean (not counting the enormous amount of espresso he consumes every morning). And, we might add, doing it with modesty and thoughtfulness, despite the pressure that comes with such a meteoric rise. At this point, he could probably take his press clippings and go big-time, opening a three-hundred-seat Texas-style joint in Times Square and laughing all the way to the bank. But at heart, he’s still a kid from Bryan who just wants to make good ’cue (he has, however, started selling his sauce at H-E-B). Let us give thanks that he keeps dragging himself out of bed in the early-morning hours to cook for us. '

    I've slow smoked and eaten so much pork, I'm legally recognized as being part swine - Chatsworth Ca.
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 9,058
    bicktrav said:

    @SoCalTim - That's interesting.  At least that's something that sets him apart.  I know how amazing Franklin's is supposed to be; it's just hard for me to imagine someone doing the same thing that everyone else does (smoke, wrap, pull) being that much better than every other BBQ joint in the country.  When I look at competition recipes I get it.  I've made Adam Perry Lang's competition stuff, and it completely obliterates any restaurant BBQ I've had.  The amount of steps involved in one of those recipes is just absurd, but the final product is on a totally different level than restaurant BBQ.  Still, I read somewhere the other night that Aaron Franklin is considered the best brisket cook in the country.  Granted, that's a subjective opinion and it probably didn't come from a very reputable source; nonetheless, that perception exists.  It just had me wondering, is that designation being made as compared to other BBQ joints?  Or does the comparison include the guys that are winning competitions?  Cause I just can't see a basic restaurant brisket thrown in a pit wrapped and pulled beating out competition style.  


    Just cause something is complicated, doesn't mean it's better. I actually believe simpler is better, but that is "my preference". I have seen a lot of the crap they inject into the meat to give it moisture and enhance the flavor. I want the meat to shine, and personally wouldn't prefer to eat a plate full of artificial flavor.

    That is my preference though...yours may be different. It's almost like corn syrup vs sugar or organic vs non-organic.
    Just a hack that makes some $hitty BBQ....
  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 498
    cazzy said:
    @SoCalTim - That's interesting.  At least that's something that sets him apart.  I know how amazing Franklin's is supposed to be; it's just hard for me to imagine someone doing the same thing that everyone else does (smoke, wrap, pull) being that much better than every other BBQ joint in the country.  When I look at competition recipes I get it.  I've made Adam Perry Lang's competition stuff, and it completely obliterates any restaurant BBQ I've had.  The amount of steps involved in one of those recipes is just absurd, but the final product is on a totally different level than restaurant BBQ.  Still, I read somewhere the other night that Aaron Franklin is considered the best brisket cook in the country.  Granted, that's a subjective opinion and it probably didn't come from a very reputable source; nonetheless, that perception exists.  It just had me wondering, is that designation being made as compared to other BBQ joints?  Or does the comparison include the guys that are winning competitions?  Cause I just can't see a basic restaurant brisket thrown in a pit wrapped and pulled beating out competition style.  
    Just cause something is complicated, doesn't mean it's better. I actually believe simpler is better, but that is "my preference". I have seen a lot of the crap they inject into the meat to give it moisture and enhance the flavor. I want the meat to shine, and personally wouldn't prefer to eat a plate full of artificial flavor. That is my preference though...yours may be different. It's almost like corn syrup vs sugar or organic vs non-organic.
    Yeah, I get that.  Makes sense.  I typically tend to agree.  Most of the APL steps don't doctor the meat.  There's no injection, so the interior of the brisket is just pure meat.  The steps are mostly to do with the bark and the heat application.  On the subject of corn syrup vs. sugar, one thing I noticed in the video of Aaron Franklin making his brisket is that he makes his sauce using high fructose corn syrup free ketchup.  So clearly, he's interested in purity.  That's a good thing.  Still don't get how his can be that much better than everyone else's.  He's just throwing it on a smoker at 250 and wrapping it half-way through the cook.  What sort of magic is happening in that pit that doesn't happen in other pits?  
    Southern California
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 9,058
    bicktrav said:


    cazzy said:

    bicktrav said:

    @SoCalTim - That's interesting.  At least that's something that sets him apart.  I know how amazing Franklin's is supposed to be; it's just hard for me to imagine someone doing the same thing that everyone else does (smoke, wrap, pull) being that much better than every other BBQ joint in the country.  When I look at competition recipes I get it.  I've made Adam Perry Lang's competition stuff, and it completely obliterates any restaurant BBQ I've had.  The amount of steps involved in one of those recipes is just absurd, but the final product is on a totally different level than restaurant BBQ.  Still, I read somewhere the other night that Aaron Franklin is considered the best brisket cook in the country.  Granted, that's a subjective opinion and it probably didn't come from a very reputable source; nonetheless, that perception exists.  It just had me wondering, is that designation being made as compared to other BBQ joints?  Or does the comparison include the guys that are winning competitions?  Cause I just can't see a basic restaurant brisket thrown in a pit wrapped and pulled beating out competition style.  


    Just cause something is complicated, doesn't mean it's better. I actually believe simpler is better, but that is "my preference". I have seen a lot of the crap they inject into the meat to give it moisture and enhance the flavor. I want the meat to shine, and personally wouldn't prefer to eat a plate full of artificial flavor.

    That is my preference though...yours may be different. It's almost like corn syrup vs sugar or organic vs non-organic.

    Yeah, I get that.  Makes sense.  I typically tend to agree.  Most of the APL steps don't doctor the meat.  There's no injection, so the interior of the brisket is just pure meat.  The steps are mostly to do with the bark and the heat application.  On the subject of corn syrup vs. sugar, one thing I noticed in the video of Aaron Franklin making his brisket is that he makes his sauce using high fructose corn syrup free ketchup.  So clearly, he's interested in purity.  That's a good thing.  Still don't get how his can be that much better than everyone else's.  He's just throwing it on a smoker at 250 and wrapping it half-way through the cook.  What sort of magic is happening in that pit that doesn't happen in other pits?  

    He doesn't wrap at a time point or half way...he wraps when the meat tells his fairy finger tips that it's time to wrap.
    Just a hack that makes some $hitty BBQ....
  • JohnInCarolinaJohnInCarolina Posts: 10,687
    I'm just gonna go out on a limb here and suggest Aaron Franklin isn't giving away all or even most of his secrets on YouTube.  
    "If the world is something you accept rather than interpret, then you're susceptible to the influence of charismatic idiots." - NdGT

    "The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand." - DT


  • cazzycazzy Posts: 9,058
    edited April 2014
    Also, Aaron showed peeps how to make "a brisket", not his brisket. This is the man's business, his lively hood...do you think he's going to give away his trade secrets that have made him the best in the biz? I can say with confidence that he only let us see what he wanted us to see. 

    Also, he cooks brisket on multiple 500 and 1000 gallon off set pits with post oak, which also have a draft. Couldn't be any more different than what we're doing on the egg.
    Just a hack that makes some $hitty BBQ....
  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 498
    @JohnInCarolina - Haha, yes.  I agree.  I'm sure there's more to it.  But I don't think any restaurant could possibly devote the same time and energy to one dish as a competitor can.  Franklin's has dozens of other things on the menu, all of which require their own prep/cook work.  There's just no way you can be as focused running a restaurant. 
    Southern California
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 9,058
    Or you can have both at Memphis Barbecue Co.

    Melissa is a 10 time world champion and has been seen on BBQ Pitmasters.  
    Just a hack that makes some $hitty BBQ....
  • Operating a profitable restaurant and winning BBQ competitions are two different art forms entirely.

    Some can do both, but not many.  I tend to cut the restaurateurs a break because I know the different challenges that they face to staying profitable.  So really hard to compare the two. IMO

    I get to prepare a piece of meat and have the judge taste it exactly when I would like them to appreciate the flavors that I want to project.  Running a BBQ establishment is all about controlling waste and watching your bottom line. 

    Many judges have tried both, maybe some can chime in on their own findings.

     

    -SMITTY     

    from SANTA CLARA, CA

  • bclarksiclebclarksicle Posts: 157
    I would differentiate a restaurant from a place like Franklins that makes a set amount of meat and sells out each day. All about quality control.

    I know, it sounds crazy to think he can produce something THAT good with such a seemingly simple process. But he does. It is THAT good. I'm not super experienced on the competition circuit, but nothing I've had comes close
  • FockerFocker Posts: 7,818
    edited April 2014

    APL is a professionally trained chef, turned BBQ cook.

    AF is a BBQ cook.

    Big difference.....different approaches.  Both are successful at what they do.

    I agree with Smitty.  Commercial vs Competition cannot be compared.  Each has different priorities.

    Brandon
    Quad Cities
    "If yer gonna denigrate, familiarity with the subject is helpful."

  • CrimsongatorCrimsongator Posts: 5,795
    There are several BBQ places that have success on the competition circuit. Some do their best to give a product closer to competition and still do it in the quantities needed to serve a restaurant
  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,508

    Running a BBQ establishment is all about controlling waste and watching your bottom line. 

    Good thoughts Smitty. Watching the bottom line, but also holding cooked BBQ all day long and trying to serve it as moist as it was when it came off the pit makes it tough for the restaurants. Also, BBQ joint food is something that needs to be done on a massive scale, so each pound of meat gets less love. Competitors are not only preparing food with tons of love and skill, but we are able to serve it to the judges in it's best possible form…immediately after the perfect rest. Throw in the fact that we only serve the judges the best stuff of all the meat we cook, and I gotta say the edge goes to the competitors in general. But….there are the legendary BBQ joints…Franklins (which I have not tried) appears to be a favorite. I had pork shoulder from Lexington BBQ in BC that was to die for. There are many Q joints where you may get the best bite anywhere….but if you get food from the top competitors, I'd say it is not only hard to beat, but as you say…hard to compare.

    Cheers!
    Chris


    DizzyPigBBQ.com
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
    Facebook: Dizzy Pig Seasonings
    Instagram: @DizzyPigBBQ
  • NDGNDG Posts: 1,552
    I think thats why I was disappointed with Blues Hog "award winning - choice of champions" BBQ sauce.  Too sweet and too sticky for me, but I am sure in a one bite competition it is memorable.
    Columbus, Ohio
  • SoCalTimSoCalTim Posts: 2,151
    Back to the original question ... I'd pay good money to see Aaron Franklin go up against some of the best. Hey, maybe for charity.
    I've slow smoked and eaten so much pork, I'm legally recognized as being part swine - Chatsworth Ca.
  • As a KCBS BBQ Judge, home cook and resturant participant I can tell you from my perspective that Competition cooks win hands down as Chris @Nature_Boy pointed out that the stuff we get as a KCBS judge is the prime stuff and resturants have to get it hot and fresh all day long. After cooking BBQ on the egg for 7 years and judging over 15 contests it has made me a snob and stuff I used to like at BBQ Resturants, now I find not quite as good. However I have been to some KCBS Cooks that also have resturants and the food is much better than some of the more commercial BBQ joints. That's just my .02!

    NW IA

    2 LBGE, 1 SBGE, 22.5 WSM, 1 Smokey Joe

  • @SoCalTim - Aaron was used numerous times judging the best of the best Competition cooks on BBQ Pitmasters Season 3 I think.

    NW IA

    2 LBGE, 1 SBGE, 22.5 WSM, 1 Smokey Joe

  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 498
    @SoCalTim - I completely agree.  I would love to see that guy compete.  
    Southern California
  • JohnInCarolinaJohnInCarolina Posts: 10,687
    I wouldn't mind trying something APL had cooked himself also.
    "If the world is something you accept rather than interpret, then you're susceptible to the influence of charismatic idiots." - NdGT

    "The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand." - DT


  • henapplehenapple Posts: 15,983
    Every time I look at an apl recipe I feel like I'm building a rocket. I drink and egg...I'm not a scientist. Honestly it doesn't matter if Aaron pisses on his brisket. Folks are lined up for hours like free xbox at Walmart at Christmas

    . Centex said it was the best he's had...I'll take that. Would I stand in line for 3 hours? Only with a cooler of PBR.

    Taste is objective. I know people that rave about rendezvous. ..not so much for me.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • TonyATonyA Posts: 582
    I liken it to the Pepsi challenge. Pepsi went out in the 80s and did a blind single sip taste test vs Coca Cola. In a single taste, the brain prefers the more salty or sweet product. Coca Cola did some homework and New Coke was born: an even sweeter product than Pepsi. No one wanted a full glass of the stuff.

    Competition cooks are trying to deliver one wow bite. Prolonged exposure to some of the flavors would be unappetizing.
  • AuburntgrAuburntgr Posts: 76
    I have never understood why people rave about Rendezvous @henapple‌ . Living in Memphis I would recommend about any BBQ over Rendezvous. I understand the history and the location but BBQ quality I would have to pass.
    Franklin, TN Medium Green Egg
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