A Day Off
Sunday is our day off so we decided to serve barbecue to about 2000 people. What better way to relax is what we were thinking.
We were invited to participate in the 4th annual Houston Barbecue Festival. What a great opportunity for us to show people what we do and have a party at the same time. The day was long, hard, and a flipping blast is what it was.
I used to be fussy about having to work 5 days a week, and couldn’t wait to barbecue at home on the weekends as a way to refresh. Now that I own a barbecue restaurant, on my day off I still like to grill in the back yard. Even when it rains like weekend before last. The sound of rain, a covered patio, a weber kettle grill, and tall whiskey drink is relaxation 101 for me. Playing with fire has always put me at ease.
Serving about 2000 portions yesterday was mentally very relaxing for me. All week long we did the extra prep in and around the regular routine of running The Craftory. Then we made the barbecue Saturday night and all that was left was the very best part…serving people. I wasn’t worried about ringing the register, calculating taxes, brewing tea, or making sure people had a clean place to sit. All of that stuff was on festival organizers. Filling trays of the food we made and having people be so appreciative of the effort was rewarding indeed.
Leading up to Sunday another stellar week happened. Had a nice visit from Tomball Firemen and we were delighted they were able to get through lunch with the big engine left in park.
We were pretty busy all week. Carnivore’s hall was lively.
There are significant moments in a man’s life that deliver profound joy. Memorable events like graduations, weddings, and babies shape a man’s life.
Then there comes a day when a man carries off a whole brisket in a beer box to meet other men for drinking beer, eating barbecue, and playing dominoes.
Those are the days of men.
The only thing that could have made this picture better is a flannel shirt.
Regardless, this is a pretty solid start to a day off is what I was thinking at this moment. We’re happy to help in these times.
We sold out a little early on Saturday. It was busy from the get go. A fitting end to our regular business week.
Behind the scenes this week chocolate panna cotta shooters for the festival were being poured.
At a barbecue festival with a name like Tejas Chocolate we were thinking folks might want to see some chocolate from us.
Shooters were lining up everywhere it seemed.
Early Sunday morning while heading over to The Craftory I caught a glimpse of a sleepy Old Town Tomball.
I took a moment to enjoy the quiet before the storm.
Before we headed down to NRG Stadium I filled my new adult sippy cup with our iced cold brew mocha.
That’s a refreshing and energizing beverage is what that is.
It was time to get the barbecue party started.
This was about the time Michelle suggested I put down the phone and do something useful.
You guys think Michelle is all cute and nice. She’s really mean to me I’m telling you. She does this to me right before she makes me breakfast, does my laundry, and keeps a great house. Hurricane Hoot is what I call her when she’s on a roll.
I am a fortunate one.
Michelle is a Florida Gator, so I thought she’d enjoy what Pinkerton’s Barbecue was smoking right next to us. She didn’t appreciate the sight as much as I thought she might.
A whole gator on a ginormous cooker was something to see.
The first hour was for owners of VIP tickets and media peoples. In the blink of an eye we had a line. Not completely sure yet as to why we were loaded up so quickly with eaters.
Bob Frazier shared with us this picture.
Bob was a volunteer at the event and took this picture right at the opening bell.
Our sample trays looked like this one that Jamie Alvear snapped a picture of before eating. That was exactly the presentation we were aiming for. Brisket, pastrami burnt end with house mustard, pickled red onions, carrot souffle’s and a chocolate panna cotta shooter. What a great picture.
That’s the pic of the week for me.
We were told our line looked like this the whole day.
Scott Sandlin took these pictures.
Love this picture of the pastrami burnt ends we made special for the festival.
Scott has a nice photo album of the festival here.
Alison Cook, food writer for the Houston Chronicle, liked the pastrami too.
Then she made fun of herself on the typo.
Alison said she is planning to visit The Craftory soon. We look forward to that.
Nick Rama ate at 22 places. He got the meat sweats and had to stop. He posted this picture.
I saw on Twitter that Bryan Norton @bbqbryan ate at all 26 booths. That dude is a seriously dedicated meat head.
Michelle had a pressurized canister of whipped cream for topping the panna cotta shooters. One time while she was replenishing the canister she accidentally shot whipped cream all over the back of a worker next door at Harlem Road BBQ. They all had a good laugh at that moment. Barbecue dudes, beer, whipped cream…you can see where that conversation went.
Then Chris Clements got loose with the whipped cream canister.
It was great to see Chris relax and enjoy himself after what he’s been through of late.
The story of the day though had to be the reaction of people discovering our carrot souffle’.
Sara Donchey, afternoon anchor for Channel 2, may have summed it up the best.
Then Sara and Lilly Jang of KHOU channel 11 were having fun with their portions.
Lots of people were asking what is carrot souffle’? I simply said “it is a life changing vegetable”.
At The Craftory we serve the carrot souffle’ warm. I eat it all the time out of the fridge cold. We decided that on a hot day a cool slightly sweet bite of carrot souffle would be refreshing, and we were right.
We ran out of food at 2:30 which was earlier than we planned, but not before we sent out about 1800 panna cotta shooters & carrot souffle portions, used up two gallons of pickled red onions, sliced up 10 large briskets, and portioned out 25 lbs of pastrami burnt ends. I think we made the rookie mistake of portioning a little heavy in the early going and putting out trays at an insanely fast pace. I hardly looked up from the serving table for more than 3 hours straight. What a blast.
The organizers of Houston Barbecue Festival did a masterful job with the details of the event. So much goes into making an event like Houston Barbecue Festival run smoothly. There were many volunteers that helped make the event a success too. We want to congratulate and thank them all for doing what they do. We felt blessed to be along for the ride.
It was a really fun day off for us.
See you around the hood.