After making a name for himself in the fine dining arena, Chef Jeff Harris is throwing his hat into the barbecue ring with a new venture called J Harris Barbecue, that will debut over Memorial Day weekend.
"I grew up in Texas my whole life, and in Texas barbecue is kind of something that was always in the back of my mind," says Harris, who formerly led the critically-beloved American Food & Beverage in Fort Worth. "I’ve always loved eating that kind of grub. The stuff we do here in Texas is almost like a religion."
The setup will include Harris’ recently acquired smoker and a custom cargo trailer build out. A potential brick and mortar location is in the works, but for now, he is focused on the freedom that the more casual barbecue business can provide.
"I’d talked to people about some projects, and I definitely want to do a brick and mortar down the road, and nothing’s set in stone, but I even have something in the works to do a brick and mortar," says Harris. "I think it’s just something kind of fun, and I can do it grassroots-style. Just me, a smoker, another employee or two, and just cook some really good food."
Harris says the venture will focus on traditional Texas barbecue styles, rooted in central Texas influences. Meats will get a treatment of salt and pepper, before entering his oak and hickory-packed smoker. As for menu specifics, think plenty of brisket.
"It’s Texas, brisket is definitely king, for sure," says Harris.
Additionally, there will be pork ribs, lamb shoulder in lieu of pork shoulder and possibly a few other cuts of lamb, turkey and chicken. The menu will be pretty casual, but with the possible introduction of different cuts like lamb necks and beef cheeks as specials.
Harris is shooting for an opening within 4-6 weeks, in hopes of being up and running before July. He is looking into the possibility of a semi-permanent location, where the truck and smoker will be available at a fixed spot for a few days a week, although nothing is set in stone.
The Memorial Day Launch Party takes place on Sunday, May 29 from 3 to 7 p.m. at Bolsa Mercado. Presale tickets are available at $20 for adults and $10 for children.