Barbecue Wars Rage On

Houston pitmaster calls John Mueller 'arrogant' and announces Austin barbecue showdown

Houston pitmaster fires back at Mueller, plans to show off in Austin

4 Texas Monthly BBQ Festival September 2014 Ronnie Killen
Ronnie Killen is going back to Austin in November to show them Houston has good barbecue.  Photo by Eric Sandler
Austin Photo Set: News_Adam Sparks_John Mueller BBQ_jan 2012_john2
Killen is firing back at pitmaster John Mueller.  Photo by Adam Sparks
News_Foreign & Domestic
Head to Foreign & Domestic on November 16 to taste whether Killen can back up his words. Photo via Foreign & Domestic
4 Texas Monthly BBQ Festival September 2014 Ronnie Killen
Austin Photo Set: News_Adam Sparks_John Mueller BBQ_jan 2012_john2
News_Foreign & Domestic

Ronnie Killen is fed up. The chef/owner of Killen's Barbecue is tired of seeing Houstonians fawn over Austin-based pitmasters like John Lewis of La Barbecue and John Mueller of John Mueller Meat Co. On November 16, he'll show Austin that Houston has pretty good barbecue, too, with a one day pop-up at Foreign & Domestic.

"These guys from Austin they come and do pop-ups here. They've got great barbecue, but so do we," Killen tells CultureMap. "I think it's going to be by John [Mueller]'s attitude; he made me want to hold a pop-up there."

One of two sons of Texas legend Bobby Mueller in the barbecue business (Wayne Mueller of Mueller's Barbecue in Taylor being the other), John Mueller's famously checkered past was well-documented in a Texas Monthly article. He seemed poised for a bit of a comeback in 2012 until his sister LeAnn abruptly fired him from the now famous La Barbecue.

Mueller is out on his own now, and he's spent the past few weeks taunting Killen on Twitter. 

"John Mueller is so arrogant," Killen says. When Killen accepted Mueller's invitation to hang out at last weekend's Q for a Cause charity event, he thought he might find that Mueller's online persona was just for attention, but that wasn't the case. "He told me, 'you're in the presence of a legend' and 'you should be doing this, you should be doing that.'"

One-day record
Killen says he helped prep some briskets for the smokers but didn't see any reason to stay up all night listening to Mueller's insults. After all, he has his own business to supervise. On Saturday, Killen sold over $20,000 worth of barbecue — a one-day record for the six month-old restaurant. He also managed to attend his son's final sixth grade football game Saturday afternoon. 

 Killen helped prep  briskets for the smokers, but didn't see any reason to stay up all night listening to Mueller's insults. 

As for next month's event, Killen thinks he'll get a good response. "Every time I've done an event in Austin people have been really happy," he observes.

Unhappy with how his Klose pit cooked at the TMBBQ Fest, Killen got out a welder and started making improvements. "The pit is cooking awesome now," he says. 

The pop-up will feature brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs and Killen's homemade sausage. Sides will likely be beans and potato salad. Dessert is TBA, but hopefully it is Killen's all-world carrot cake. 

The event will be held on Austinites, circle November 16 on your calendars. Get to Foreign & Domestic at 11 am. Take it from your friends in Houston. An annoyed Ronnie Killen with something to prove is a man whose barbecue you want to eat.