The Weekly Open Thread: Worrying About the Rise of the Barbecue Hipster



We strive to keep it real here at Bites, especially when we're talking about barbecue. The boss man and I tried to get our greasy arms around some of the best 'cue in the area in our cover story for the Scene this week, but our corporate cousin Big Kahuna and all-around good foodie dude, Steve Cavendish, opted to take a more cerebral approach to the world of smoked meats for The City Paper's barbecue edition.

He gathered some of the city's most notable pitmasters, both old hats and upstarts, for a lively roundtable discussion about the past, present and future of Nashville barbecue. In fact, a highlight of the discourse was whether such a thing as "Nashville barbecue" even exists as an appellation. Pick up a copy today or check out the article online to find out what these sages of smoke opined.

One of the esteemed local panelists, Pat Martin of Martin's Bar-B-Que, was also quoted extensively in a column on the Today show website titled "Is Barbecue Getting Too Trendy for Its Own Good?" As the new fauxhemians discover the joys of great barbecue, (a phenomenon that coincided with the first decent smokehouse opening in Brooklyn) purists are concerned that the appreciation of the work and time involved in the art will be lost.

In a statement that sounds a lot like the situation at some of Nashville's favorite music venues, “The worry is that some tattooed 20-somethings with black frame glasses, who line up outside some of the country’s top ‘cue, care more about a cool environment than a solid lineup of meat,” wrote Zagat staffer James Mulcahy.

Martin doesn't care if his restaurant is filled to capacity with fans of the Polyphonic Vampire Mumford Brothers, just as long as they appreciate the effort that goes into his life's work and that they understand the costs involved.

[Martin] bemoans the fact that he can only charge customers $5.50 for a pulled pork sandwich that he's cooked for 22 hours, while a hamburger in the same area goes for $9. He says he'll probably have to raise prices sometime next year.

And that's where those hip kids come in again. "A lot of the hipsters like barbecue and that's great," Martin says. "It doesn't bother me, it helps me, because I need to make more money for the work we put into it. Now you have chefs coming in who are using these techniques and charging for it. It exposes us more if they do the right thing."

So what do you think, Bitesters? Are you worried about getting handlebar mustache wax in your brisket? Or are you inclusive in your love of the 'cue and more than willing to share your booth with a nice young gentleman wearing a fedora and drinking an ironic PBR?

And since this is the Open Thread, do tell what else is on your mind this long holiday weekend? (You did blow off work today, right?)

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