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'Best in Chow' is waging ‘BBQ Wars New Orleans’ on Cooking Channel

Comedian Cris Nannarone is the adorable host of Best in Chow
Comedian Cris Nannarone is the adorable host of Best in Chow"Photo courtesy of Cooking Channel, used with permission."

On last night’s Cooking Channel episode of “Best in Chow,” host Cris Nannarone went to New Orleans to find the best barbeque as rated by the locals of this town. Cris, a comedian and veteran road warrior, took his love for food and people on this search and gave them the opportunity to judge the best barbeque in the Big Easy.

Cris questioned several people on the street, and the same three BBQ joints continued to be named. He heard about tacos, quesadillas and Vietnamese bread; all connected with barbeque. When asked if it was illegal to serve these together, he was told that nothing is illegal in New Orleans. Nothing is more diverse from state to state than barbeque, and in NOLA the name is fusion.

Cris stopped at McClure’s Barbeque where the smell was like barbeque heaven. He met with owner Neil McClure, who wakes up at 3 a.m. six days a week to fire up his smoker. After Hurricane Katrina, they started barbecuing for all the local responders, and they barbequed for a month in his giant smoker using only pecan wood. Neil will be making Cris a Brisket Cheesesteak PoBoy. Neil learned to make barbeque in his mother’s kitchen. They would roast a whole pig using an old washing machine motor; an axle from an old Karmann Ghia attached to a rod that turned slowly over the barbeque pit. The Brisket Cheesesteak PoBoy contained, poboy bread, pecan-smoked certified Angus beef brisket, smoked green peppers, smoked yellow onions and provolone cheese sauce.

Next stop, Saucy’s BBQ, where Cris met with Richard Labatut, owner and head cook. He made a Brisket Quesadilla for Cris to enter in the competition. Cris loved the delicious flavor, and the secret sauces were more than delicious. Richard uses two convection smokers that are about the size of a refrigerator in a small compact kitchen. The quesadilla contained; flour tortilla, Saucy’s super-secret sauce, shredded pepper jack cheese, coffee-encrusted beef brisket, chipotle BBQ sauce, chopped green onions and more shredded cheese.

Cris sought guidance from a higher power and went to meet with minister, Rev. Dr. Ray Cannata, the man who ate at every restaurant in New Orleans. He sent him to Squeal Bar-B-Q to meet with the three Young brothers, Patrick, Eugene and Brendan, owners of this place that lures people in just by the smell. They have a giant smoker out in front of the place, and use hickory and pecan to smoke their meats. He made Cris a Pulled Pork and Slaw Taco. Cris loved the taco that contained; grilled corn tortilla, pulled pork shoulder, coleslaw, chipotle puree, and fresh cilantro.

Now Cris had to round up some locals to be the judges and bring them to the three restaurants. As they went from place to place, there were nine happy faces, and lots of thought went into the voting. Finally, the votes were cast, and the best barbeque was McClure’s Barbeque, congratulations, Neil!