John Tesar appeared on a panel this weekend at Texas Monthly’s Edge of Texas event, “The Delicious Debate: Pitmasters vs. Chefs.” The quotable Top Chef contestant and James Beard award nominee had some hot takes on barbecue and future of cooking over fire. Tesar is opening another Knife in Plano, three Knife Burger locations elsewhere in Dallas-Fort Worth and also opened a restaurant in Los Angeles called Outer Reef.
The panel included restaurateurs and pitmasters. Tesar was supportive of the art, beauty and deliciousness of barbecue, but wasn’t quite sold on pitmasters competing against chef-drive restaurants for awards.
Reflecting on when three barbecue pitmasters were nominated for the James Beard nominated in same year:
“BBQ and pitmasters need their own category. Pitmasters are awesome, but who made them chefs?”
On what has happened to the James Beard nominating process:
“When you put pitmasters into James Beard, it becomes a popularity contest.”
On the art of being a pitmaster:
“Barbecue is very poetic; each has their own way.”
On the rising popularity of barbecue:
“I see the word ‘barbecue’ more than I see the word ‘men’s room.’ “
On the future of barbecue and what comes next as pitmasters continue to transform the genre:
“If you are the creator of the barbecue, only you can be the destructor of the barbecue.”
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