Yesterday, the existence of the Houston Barbecue Project was announced. After an impassioned post about the philosophy behind it, we were left wondering what the hell the actual Houston Barbecue Project would be when it launched today. Now we know. It's a gigantic map of all the barbecue spots inside the Beltway, with details, pictures and reviews.
J.C. Reid, founder of the Houston Barbecue Project found time out of his busy brisket-eating schedule to give us some more background on the site and explains why all Texans are granted the "title of self-proclaimed barbecue experts."
How long have you been working on this project?
I started working on the Houston Barbecue website/map in June. I wanted to get a few BBQ joints documented before rolling it out.
What spurred you to start this?
The main inspiration was the article I wrote "Is Rudy's the best barbecue joint in Houston?" After writing that I realized I had visited only a small percentage of the BBQ joints in Houston (really, just the ones that get the most press). So I put together a list and picked a few at random and visited them. A couple of joints I had never heard of, or never really heard were worth visiting, turned out to be great: Triple J's Smokehouse and Lenox BBQ. (I have to give credit to a fellow BBQ hound - Paul Sedillo - for recommending Lenox). Based on just that small sampling, I realized there must be more hidden gems out there - they just don't get the recognition. The first rule for BBQ exploring is: "If you don't go, you don't know."
When did you first deem yourself a "barbecue expert," as you so fondly refer to in your post?
I'd say the first time I ate Texas BBQ. There's an old saying in Texas barbecue: "All barbecue experts are self-proclaimed. " This is kind of an inside joke among barbecue enthusiasts who acknowledge that trying to convince other barbecue enthusiasts that they know better is practically impossible. Proclaiming yourself a barbecue expert just means "This is what I think about BBQ and if you have a different opinion I respect that so let's sit down and eat some barbecue and discuss it." So as Texans, either by birth or adoption, we are all granted the title of self-proclaimed barbecue experts.
What do you envision for the site's future?
There is no user-generated content at this time, as that can get chaotic. Once Houston barbecue is well-documented, I'll probably shift to a different format that allows more interaction. Currently there's a small group of dedicated Houston BBQ explorers who are helping out. And of course suggestions, comments and recommendations are always welcome from everyone.