Open Mortgage’s headquarters is located in Austin, Texas — a city that’s been rated America’s top city for BBQ.
Several of our team members are BBQ pitmasters outside work, and we recently held our first “BBQ Smoke Off” in Austin to taste the creations of these food wizards.
Rudy Flores, Jesse Clayborn, and Erik Liberatore, three Open Mortgage pitmasters whose food was highly ranked (and quickly eaten) during the smokeoff, agreed to provide some home BBQ tips and insights that you can use in your own backyard:

Rudy Flores

“I’ve lived in the same home in Buda, Texas for 25 years. My home is located on the corner lot on my street, and I’ve always been known as the “BBQ man” by my neighbors.

My BBQ speciality is my smoke flavor — I create this by mixing Pecan and Oak Tree wood together. I’m not big on BBQ sauce, as my BBQ has nothing to hide.

While I generally BBQ using high heat, on occasion I’ll slow cook. This usually results in neighbors honking horns when driving by and asking “what time is dinner,” — and ends with them over for beer, conversation and BBQ.

My favorite part of BBQ is the social aspect with my neighbors.”
Jesse Clayborn
“For BBQ, you can smoke any kind of meat, such as chicken, pork, and even fish.  

You use smoke from various hardwoods to heat and cook the meat. Unlike grilling, you do not directly heat the meat, meaning you do not put flame to the meat — it’s cooked indirectly from hot smoke.  

Your traditional smoker has two sections: the cooking (barrel) section and the heat (smoke box) section. Both have sections with lids to contain the heat and smoke. There’s also a smokestack on the barrel, and an air vent on the smokebox to adjust airflow to improve and calm down the flame.  

This is where smoking gets fun! Depending on the wood, you can get various flavors. The flavor of the food will remain the same (pork still tastes like pork and so on) but the smoke flavor adds a lot. The most commonly used woods for smoking are: Oak (especially Texas Oak), Mesquite, and Hickory. You can use additional woods such as Cherry, Apple, and Pecan.  

Just like any kind of food, the wood, flavor, spices, etc., vary greatly depending on the BBQ region. For example, folks in Georgia, Kansas, and the Carolinas have different preferences than us here in Texas. However, the actual process of smoking is universal: hard wood smoke used to indirectly cook a meat.”
Erik Liberatore

“I worked in kitchens for 18 years, was a chef for nine of those years, and worked closely with a BBQ pitmaster for a year.

I learned a lot from the pitmaster as well as my own trial and error.

My BBQ specialty is my patience with the meat’s temperature. Having this patience is critical, and I slow cook the meat at 220 to 225 degrees the entire time.

I smoke my meats using Oak wood and a little Apple. My favorite thing about BBQ is the process. Not everyone has the patience to smoke something for multiple hours.”
For good BBQ, it’s all about the wood, smoke, and patience
We hope these insights from Rudy, Jesse, and Erik help make your own BBQ better.
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