How Aaron Franklin Sees Barbecue Fitting Into The Larger Food World - Exclusive

Aaron Franklin's restaurant, Franklin Barbecue, is a classic barbecue joint that elevates the genre with exceptional brisket, ribs, and sausages. In 2019, Franklin expanded his culinary vision to incorporate other cultural perspectives with Loro, an Asian smokehouse co-created with James Beard award-winning chef Tyson Cole. At Loro, elevated fare that merges the flavor profiles of popular Asian dishes with the smokey cooking preparations that are central to Texas cooking are served. Franklin also owns and operates Uptown Sports Club, a restaurant heavily influenced by the cuisine of Louisiana evidenced in everything from the bread the po' boys are served on, which comes directly from Leidenheimer, a beloved Louisiana bakery.

In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Franklin described his impetus for curating restaurants that are based on barbecue, but borrow culinary inspiration from other traditions, as core to "the evolution of barbecue." He believes this is grounded in the style of barbecue "cross[ing] over into other genres," which has been happening for years.

Franklin said that one of the most important aspects of the culinary journey happening around barbecue is the return to the origin of cooking, which involved preparing food on a fire's open flame. "Fire cooking has been around forever... Every culture has celebrated that in one shape or another."

The multi-cultural inspiration behind Franklin Barbecue

Aaron Franklin credits the German-Czech meat markets of the 1940s and 1950s as inspiration for the type of barbecuing he and his team do at Franklin Barbecue, our best barbecue restaurant in Texas. One of the essential components of that work is paying close attention to the details, including temperature regulation, meat cuts, grades of beef, and methods of cooking.

When Franklin was awarded Best Chef Southwest by the James Beard Foundation in 2015, he was the first pitmaster to receive the honor, helping to shepherd in an era where masters of barbecue are starting to be recognized for their culinary expertise. Franklin has observed this change and its manifestations in subtle instances such as language usage: "[Barbecue] has worked its way into people's dialect on food."

To learn more about how Franklin sees barbecue intersecting with other cultural traditions, check out "Franklin Smoke", his new cookbook with collaborator Jordan MacKay, which is available for purchase here. And if you want to stay up-to-date with all things Franklin Barbecue, follow Franklin Barbecue on Instagram.