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Pitmaster Evan LeRoy talks new school BBQ, dark beers and the perfect burger

LeRoy and Lewis
Photograph: Briana Balducci

When Evan LeRoy decided to open his food truck, LeRoy and Lewis, he knew there were already plenty of old-school BBQ joints in Austin. So the former Freedmen's pitmaster decided to go new school, launching the unique truck with partner Sawyer Lewis and offering dishes like boudin-stuffed quail and brisket-and-kimchi sandwiches. With a brick-and-mortar location opening in late 2018, LeRoy chatted with us about the ethos behind his food, the stouts he's drinking now and where you can find his favorite burger.

Tricky transitions
“Freedmen’s wasn’t really a kitchen—there wasn’t a fryer. Luckily I had worked at a food truck before; I worked at Torchy’s. The biggest challenge at LeRoy and Lewis is having two different locations. We do all the BBQ cooking [at the truck] and everything else at the commissary. It’s not far away, but there’s no cold storage here so we can’t store any meat at the truck, and we run off a generator so there’s no electricity at night. So having to constantly go back and forth, run two different places at the same time—it’s crazy.”

Going new school
“The old school idea [of BBQ] is brisket, ribs, sausage, potato salad, banana pudding. We don’t want to do that. Everybody else does that; Aaron [Franklin] perfected it. I don’t see a reason to open up another old school BBQ joint in Austin, or even in Texas. I don’t think Texas is too saturated, just because every small town in Texas doesn’t have an excellent BBQ joint, and it won’t be saturated until that happens. But what we want to do is basically evolve BBQ, take it to the next level using only local meats, trying to bring in as many whole animals as possible, breaking it down ourselves, trying to use local produce.”

Truck stop
“The best food truck in town, hands down, is Soursop. I’m always trying new stuff there, but the Chongqing chicken is absolutely amazing. Everything single thing they do is excellent.”

A cut above
“The quality of the meat at Salt & Time is incredible, and it has the best charcuterie in Austin. I put in some time over there. I asked Ben [Runkle] if I could come learn how to cut meat with them and make charcuterie, and he said yeah, absolutely. And it’s the best place to get a steak in the city that’s not a steakhouse.”

Stout season
St. Elmo Brewing Company makes really good beer. They're just nailing it. I’m excited it’s getting colder, because my favorite beer there is Angus [a dry stout]. I haven’t had it since last year and I’m excited to drink dark beers again.”

Burger dreams
“Burgers are simple, so you have to have good meat to start out with. Dai Due does a burger on Tuesdays that is dry aged ribeye scrap, and it’s on this really good bun and has awesome cheddar. It’s just an excellent burger. There’s two different types of burgers, right? There’s a restaurant, big mouth burger and there’s a drunk, one hand burger—so P. Terry’s for that. ”

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