Barbecue upstarts such as BBQ on the Brazos, Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ and Heim Barbecue have been popping up in and near Fort Worth during the past couple of years, but when a new Cooking Channel show called Big Bad BBQ Battle came to Fort Worth in early 2015, it took on a ’cue institution: Cousins Bar-B-Q, which has bemore en part of the Fort Worth scene for more than 30 years.
That episode airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on the Cooking Channel, the younger and lesser-known sibling of Food Network. It’s the premiere episode of the series, which is described thus: “When Shannon Ambrosio became a chef, he traveled the South to learn everything he could about traditional southern BBQ. Now that he's conquered the BBQ scene in New York, he and his boys are hitting the road to see if he can measure up against the best pit masters in the South.”
Ambrosio, described in the Cousins episode synopsis as a “Brooklyn BBQ maverick,” takes on the Cousins dynasty in a smoked brisket cookoff, with advice from Jack Perkins of Dallas’ The Slow Bone and Maple & Motor, who tips Ambrosio to the secret ingredient in his award-winning brisket: espresso.
Ambrosio comes up with his own signature coffee blend, and thanks to former Star-Telegram reporter Barry Shlachter, we know that the coffee comes from Fort Worth-based Rodak’s Coffee & BBQ Grills. Owner Marvin Rodak, whom Barry had written about a few times (most recently in 2012), sent Barry an email about his participation in the show, which Barry forwarded to us.
And if you’re tired of the rain, it looks like the episode will include a reminder that other types of inclement weather hit Fort Worth not so long ago — it was filmed during the big winter storm that hit in late February/early March.
“The venue [for the cookoff] was River Ranch Stockyards on Fort Worth's Northside,” Rodak says in the email. “They had me on set with them for the coffee and post cook comments etc. It was brutal shooting outside all day in [a] 26-degree snow storm.”
Rodak says, however, that his involvement was overall a great experience. Filming at Rodak’s took place over about five hours the day before the cookoff, and Rodak says his business will probably get about a minute of exposure on the show.
Big Bad BBQ Battle is airing as a two-part special (the second part, airing at 7:30 p.m., was shot in Shreveport). At this point, it’s not a series, but networks often do test-run specials to gauge the possibility of turning them into series. If you don’t know whether you get Cooking Channel on your cable or satellite provider, go here to find out.