Texas Monthly made headlines when it appointed Daniel Vaughn as the nation’s first barbecue editor in 2013. But passions run high in Texas barbecue circles, and Vaughn says he occasionally faces pushback from fans of certain purveyors of smoked meat and of the joints that sell it.
“People’s feelings do get hurt,” Vaughn says. “Both restaurant owners and … I certainly hear from barbecue fans of a particular place, a lot more than I hear from owners.”
Vaughn says fans of a particular eatery take a “rooting interest” in that business’ success, just as they would a favorite sports team. That means he sometimes gets criticism from those fans.
“I make sure that people understand that when I am saying that this is a place that’s fantastic, if you have not agreed with me in the past about my barbecue tastes, you’re probably not going to agree with me about this new opinion either,” Vaughn says.
While acknowledging that barbecue criticism is subjective, Vaughn is clear on one point: “There’s no such thing as barbecue payola,” he says, referring to the illegal music industry practice of paying DJs to play certain records.
Vaughn says a positive opinion form him is more likely to help a barbecue restaurant than a negative opinion is to hurt the business.
“If a place is popular, especially amongst locals, and I don’t like it, those locals are not going to stop going there,” Vaughn says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.