The 4th annual Barbecue Crash Course, a showcase of authentic Central Texas barbecue, was held March 9 as a kick-off to South by Southwest Interactive and it was the most challenging event in the series to date. The 2011 sale of Emo’s meant the loss of the only home venue the sold-out private party had ever known.
It turned out a venue change would be only the first in a series of hurdles we’d face before the final trays of barbecue would be served. In due course, High Beam Entertainment made Brush Square Park available for the party, Pink Avocado agreed to handle the bar, and temporary mobile food vendor permits were secured from the city of Austin. The Beaver Nelson Band signed on to provide the music, and FoodSpotting.com invited famed competitive eater Kobayashi to experience Texas barbecue for the first time. We started out with seven barbecue vendors, plus Cutie Pies and At Home on the Range for desserts. By the night before the party, we had lost two vendors to new-found celebrity and another two to family emergencies, and the weather forecast definitely did not look good. Party planner extraordinaire Carmela Hartman and her team from InStyle Weddings had turned the park tents into a welcoming party venue. At 11am Friday morning, our stalwart vendors – Live Oak Barbecue from Austin, Opie’s BBQ from Spicewood, Black’s Barbecue from Lockhart, and Louie Mueller Barbecue from Taylor - were ensconced under tents in the park and ready to serve food. Then, just as our guests began to arrive and the band started playing, the heavens brought forth a couple of hours of cold, driving rain to make things more interesting. But the truth is, the rain didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. Our guests ate heaping trays of brisket, ribs, sausage, pork roast, beef tri-tip, beans, spicy creamed corn, tater tot casserole, slaw, miniature pies, banana pudding, cobblers, and Blue Bell ice cream, washing it down with Pepsi, local craft beers, and Sweet Leaf peach tea. All the while, guests tweeted, blogged, and Face-booked about event. Delirious descriptions and mouthwatering photos of authentic Texas barbecue went viral in a hurry. There’s a special badge of honor for any vendor who braved all this year’s challenges to make sure our national and international guests went home with a positive image of Central Texas barbecue. Congratulations to them all! vbw
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