Boston’s Top Barbecue Gurus Score First Place National Award For Their Cookbook


We always knew they were amazing, but now the whole nation knows just how incredible the pitmaster talents are of Andy Husbands and Chris Hart, who were recently awarded the highest honor from The National Barbecue News. The barbecue duo won the Book of the Year Award for their recent cookbook Pitmaster: Recipes, Techniques, and Barbecue Wisdom. (They tied for the first time in Barbecue News history for first place with fellow authors Mike and Amy Mills for their book “Praise the Lard: Recipes and Revelations from a Legendary Life in Barbecue.”)

Andy Husbands and Chris HartPhoto Credit: Andy Husbands
Whether you are just starting out or are a barbecue aficionado, “Pitmaster” is geared to barbecue enthusiasts highlighting everything from how to create Memphis-style ribs to smoking whole hogs North Carolina style.

We caught up recently with Husbands to find out what goes into creating great barbecue, why it’s such a haute food in Boston and what the future holds for him.

What does it feel like to win this national award?

There are so many great books that have come out this year. I think anytime you are recognized by your peers is pretty darn exciting.

What is the secret to your success?

For me, it’s passion. I am excited every day that I go in and do it. I love the challenge, the customers and the food.

Tell us about the research that went into writing this book.

Writing a book is an interesting process.  Chris (Hart) and I wrote a bunch of books right in a row and then we took some time off. We love barbecue. It goes beyond the actual rib or brisket. It’s about family; it’s about heritage; it’s about celebrations. We wanted to show all of that along with how much we love barbecue. It took us about a year to write the book.

Why do you think southern food has become so popular in northern states like Massachusetts?

For barbecue, people are excited because they are understanding what craft is. Just think back about 10 or 20 years ago when there were no blogs or Instagram. You see the idea of craft with beers, bourbon and barbecue. People are excited about food and know what good barbecue is. They are becoming more and more educated where it was hard to get that info years ago.

What advice would you give to a novice smoker?

Practice, practice, practice. That’s the reality of it. When I teach beginner classes, I don’t necessarily care about their rubs or sauces. You have to learn how to have a consistent temperature of 250 degrees that will hold at that same temperature for hours. Even bad barbecue is a learning process.

What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when smoking?

Our biggest mistake when we started out was that we were always really nervous and wanted to peek. You have to trust the process. When you open the pit or oven, it hurts consistency.

What are your favorite dishes to cook?

Ribs and brisket are what I go for.

Is there any way to cook healthy when barbecuing?

You have to define what healthy is. A lot of sauces have a fair amount of sugar, but you can do it Texas style without any sauce. Barbecue is like having cake. By necessity, the meats we are using are fattier meats. The good news is that a lot of the fat does render down, but you are still going to have a rich meat. Maybe you have barbecue today and tomorrow you will have some fish.

What are some of your must-have ingredients/tools?

Salt and pepper is your baseline. I like to use high quality meats that do not have hormones or antibiotics. I also use a Thermapen, which is an instant read thermometer. If you start with a good product, you should end with a good product.

When did you first become interested in cooking?

I have been cooking since fourth grade.

Who has influenced you along the way?

Chris Schlesinger is my mentor. The co-author of our book is Chris Hart and he is a barbecue god.

Any advice to an aspiring cookbook author?

To get a deal is hard. We always ask ourselves, why are we different than anyone else? My advice would be to write, write, write. Blog it, but continue to perfect the craft of writing.

What are your future plans?

I see The Smoke Shops expanding. Chris and I are also talking about writing another book, but we need to make sure we have something new to say. I also have some exciting news that I can’t reveal just yet coming up next year.