Kelso: For barbecue, this Texan-turned-Canadian goes to great lengths


Now here’s an international situation of meaty proportions.

Michael Hoffman, an Austinite living in Canada, says he’s found “a foolproof method” for getting “awesome” barbecue in Toronto.

Even though he adds that there is no real barbecue in Toronto.

“There’s a little place just on the outskirts of town,” Michael wrote me. “You have to wait in a long line. It’s not as long as Franklin Barbecue, but the staff aren’t quite as friendly.

“After you make your way to your seat, you have to wait a bit more to get the food. But sooner than you know it, you change planes in DFW, rent a car at Bergstrom and drive to Lockhart. Great meat every time. I recommend this place to anyone in Toronto.”

Michael, 34, flies home to Austin about once a year, and the first thing he does is head for the brisket.

“I’d say the last couple of times I’ve come to Austin, probably about two out of three times, I’ve gone into the airport and proceeded directly to Lockhart,” said Hoffman, a graduate of Westlake High. “I’ve put my suitcase in the trunk, gotten in the car and gone off to Lockhart for barbecue at Kreuz’s or Smitty’s.”

There might be no better ambassador of Texas barbecue than Michael Hoffman. About 10 years ago, when Hoffman was a student at the University of Texas, he served as the ambassador to the Court of St. James’s for the UT student Barbecue Club. The group’s mission was to go to lunch at various barbecue joints in the Austin area, then rate them. The eating seemed more critical than the rating. And the Court of St. James’s never had anything to do with the barbecue club, as best I know.

Despite the lofty motive of the club, the university’s trademark and legal departments went after the group because of the seal displayed on the club’s T-shirts and Web page.

The university claimed the seal would confuse people since it was similar to the university seal. “Which was ridiculous on the face of it,” Hoffman recalled.

The barbecue club’s seal mentioned “The University of Barbecue at Austin,” along with the club motto “Brisket Sausage Pork Ribs.” Which would be hard to confuse with UT’s more sanctimonious seal slogan: “Disciplina Praesidium Civitatis.” Which means Education, the Guardian of Society, and not Football and Big Oil Money, as you might have suspected.

To appease the university, the barbecue club considered putting a disclaimer on the club’s Web page. But the webmaster turned vegetarian, and the club members couldn’t find the password. The club should have told the university to get a life, with a side of potato salad.

These days Hoffman is starting a lab to study how genes are regulated for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, an affiliate of the University of Toronto.

Hoffman enjoys living in Canada. “And you can’t beat the free health care,” he said. He says he was eligible for free medical care after living in Canada for six months.

Hey, if there’s anyone who needs free health care, it’s a guy with brisket and banana pudding on his breath.

On the other hand, Hoffman says Toronto has no true Texas barbecue. He’s picky about the subject.

There is a Canadian favorite called Montreal smoked beef, and with the word “smoked” included in the name, you’d think it might be the right stuff. But Montreal smoked beef is similar to salami, Hoffman says.

So Hoffman has to hit the road to find what he wants. And he’ll go out of his way to do it.

When he and his girlfriend moved from Seattle to Toronto, Hoffman drove by way of Llano, so they could visit Cooper’s Barbecue, Hoffman’s favorite.

“It was a little out of the way, of course,” Hoffman said.

After all, one of the barbecue club’s slogans was: “For barbecue, I will.”

“I will what?” I asked him. “Does that mean you’ll do anything for barbecue?” He thought about the question for a couple of seconds.

Then he said, “Yep.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

College student dies after on-campus shooting at Wake Forest
College student dies after on-campus shooting at Wake Forest

A 21-year-old student from Winston-Salem State University was shot and killed early Saturday after a fight broke out during a party at Wake Forest University, police said. The shooting occurred around 1 a.m., WXII reported. It took place on campus during a Delta Sigma Theta sorority party at The Barn, police said. Najee Ali Baker, 21, was...
Pizza shop owner sues when store confused for one where assault occurred
Pizza shop owner sues when store confused for one where assault occurred

A Pennsylvania pizza shop is being targeted, but its owner says it is a case of mistaken identity. Customers upset about a viral video in which a former manager allegedly assaulted a woman have been calling Original Milano's in Oakland -- but the video was taken at Pizza Milano. Ben Sciulli is the owner of the Original Milano's Pizza. He wants to make...
TV film crew arrested for allegedly trying to bring fake explosive to airport
TV film crew arrested for allegedly trying to bring fake explosive to airport

Television film crew members were arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday for allegedly trying to pass a piece of luggage containing “all the makings of an improvised explosive device,” ABC News reported. The film crew members, who claimed to be working the CNBC show “Staten Island Hustle,” were detained...
These big cities didn't make Amazon's HQ cut
These big cities didn't make Amazon's HQ cut

Plenty of big cities aren’t on Amazon’s long short list of 20 places it’s still considering for a second headquarters and 50,000 high-paying jobs. While the Seattle-based giant kept Atlanta in the running, here are some of the notable cities that aren’t: Phoenix San Diego Charlotte Detroit Cincinnati San Francisco...
Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed
Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed

An autopsy on former major-leaguer Roy Halladay showed that he had amphetamines, morphine and a sleep aid in his system when he died in a plane crash off the west coast of Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. Halladay, 40, died Nov. 7 from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor, according to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical...
More Stories