It’s all about the smoke

Editor’s note: Story and photos by Chef Michael Ollier, who believes the heart and soul of American cuisine begins at the family dinner table. It’s a philosophy that serves him well as chef for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand.

Experiences on the Central Texas Heritage Barbeque Tour

I’ve conceded. You win, Mother Nature. As much as I hate to I’ll even say it: Summer is officially over. My sons are in school, the nights are cool and my hay fever is in full swing.

But a guy can reminisce, right?

My summer began with a blazing bang—a  trip to Austin. It was the beginning of the hottest summer on record in Texas. Although I wasn’t aware of the historical significance at the time, at 104° F. I sure felt some serious Texas sizzle.

As part of a conference, I took a day trip called the Central Texas Barbeque Heritage Tour. From Taylor to Lockhart we tasted brisket, sausage, ribs, brisket and more brisket.

I met the people whose living depends on the tasty goodness of Texas barbeque.

They shared a bit of their expertise … of their heritage … with me.


It’s all about the smoke. It’s the secret to the unique flavor in every bite of brisket and the curious, yet comforting smells that waft through every barbeque joint we visited. Texans know how to coax the best out of burning wood, yielding some of the best flavored briskets I’ve ever tasted.

Throughout the summer and even now, though, Mother Nature is giving them all the smoke they can handle.

God bless Texas. Pray for those pitmasters — and everyone else — as they battle the smoke and the flames and the heat.

My summer season ended with a tradition I have shared with my eight year-old son for the past three years. The demolition derby at Ohio’s Wayne County Fair. Spinning wheels, over-revved engines and smashed metal while overeating kettle corn makes for an ideal guy’s night out.

Our annual goodbye to summer, all in a cloud of smoke.

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Jennifer Kiko

Jennifer lives on a rural route with her husband, kids, horses, cows and faithful Labs, Cash and Carter. She's an aspiring foodie and enjoys making good food for great friends. She lives next door to a winery, plays the piano, and admits to growing too many tomatoes.

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