This isn’t Eddie Deen’s first inauguration.
Far from it. For the sixth inauguration in a row, he has a major mission: Feed thousands of Texans gathered at the state Capitol.
This year, about 17,000 people are expected to gather Tuesday morning for inaugural festivities — to see Greg Abbott become governor and Dan Patrick become lieutenant governor — and Deen said he plans to feed them all “in about an hour or less.”
“We’ve done this the last 20 years,” said Deen, who has served barbecue to presidents, Olympians, Texans and more. “It’s a lot of responsibility.”
But Deen knows what it takes: camping out on Colorado Street the night before, cooking literally tons of meat and getting thousands of pounds of food ready for the event.
He and his staff will prepare about 4 tons — or 8,000 pounds — of beef brisket, not to mention 170 gallons of barbecue sauce, 17,000 yeast rolls, 4,500 pounds of potato salad, 340 gallons of beans and 2,500 pounds of coleslaw.
There also will be about 1 ton of smoked chicken, not to mention some 1,700 pies, about half chocolate buttermilk and half vanilla buttermilk.
“Get your ticket,” he said with a chuckle.
Each ticket to eat at the 2015 Inauguration Barbecue costs $10, and they can be bought online.
Much of the preparation will be done at Deen’s facility in Terrell, about 60 miles east of Fort Worth. Anyone who hankers for some of the barbecue but can’t make it to the inauguration can always swing by Eddie Deen Crossroads in Arlington.
On Inauguration Day, a crew of about 150 will help Deen dish out the food after Abbott and Patrick take their oaths of office on the south steps of the Capitol and address the crowd.
About 50 students from Carter High School in Dallas will work with about 50 employees from the Travis County Sheriff’s Department to help serve some of the food.
“We are trying to create a different scenario of interaction between police and inner-city kids,” Deen said. “So they’ll be working side by side.”
And Deen will have about 50 employees there as well.
‘A beautiful thing’
Since 1995, when Deen was tapped to serve food at George W. Bush’s first gubernatorial inauguration, he has served his barbecue to tens of thousands of Texans on the Capitol grounds.
“If my brisket was dry and tough for the first event, I wouldn’t be doing the sixth one,” he said.
He said there’s a system, and a formula, to being able to prepare and serve the inaugural barbecue efficiently.
“If you set the stage, it will unfold,” he said. “It’s the sweet spot, when everything comes together and it is just a beautiful thing.”
Deen said any leftovers — and there are always leftovers — will be taken to the homeless shelter in Austin.
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610