Food TV Review: No Reservations With BBQ Snob, Daniel Vaughn, and Anthony Bourdain

Lunch at Franklin BBQ in Austin. Left to right: R. Nicholas McWhirter (Vaughn's photographer), David Hale Smith (Vaughn's agent), Tony Bourdain, Daniel Vaugh (self).

Any of you watch our local barbecue expert Daniel Vaughn of Full Custom Gospel Barbecue fame on the season premier of No Reservations last night? I did and I have about five minutes to give you my five cents worth:

I’ve watched a zillion episodes of No Reservations and I’ve learned a lot about food and foreign cultures from Tony. He made the right decision to make this the last tour of the show. Bourdain looks tired and his energy level in the show last night was down. He looked like a grandfather hanging out with all of those hip Austin bands. I would too. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but his questions were uninspired and when he tried to be cool by tossing in old druggie stories and Lou Reed references, it stung my brain. I’ve heard myself do the same thing in our office. Everyone around me is much younger and watching Bourdain last night made me feel like I was looking into a mirror. Except I would not attempt to be as cool and hip as Tim or Zac by getting a sun tattooed on my arm. That was just dumb.

However, he brought me back to some form of reality when he quipped “Only Jews and Texans understand brisket.” Zinger. Geezer humor at its finest.
On to Daniel Vaughn. Full disclosure: I love this guy, his blog, and his upcoming projects. In real life he is a talented architect, husband, and father. He relentless pursuit of barbecue in Texas is stunning. Vaughn, who refers to himself as BBQ Snob, is a snob when it comes to barbecue. You can find his snobby comments all over Facebook and Twitter. If you post anything about ‘cue anywhere at anytime, you can expect a head butt from The Daniel. But, like Bourdain, Vaughn has done enough groundwork to establish himself as snob. And Bourdain loves food snobs.

But Daniel, Mr. BBQ Snob, you need a media coach. Or a muscle relaxer. The brisket was warm and tender but you were serious and stiff. Dude, relax and smile. You were talking about the passion of barbecue with the enthusiasm of a sloth! Don’t get me wrong: I like sloths as much as the next tree hugger and granted you are not, by choice, a polished TV host. However, that could change when your Bourdain-backed book comes out and you quit your day job and become the Joe Bob Briggs of Barbecue. (Look it up, youngsters!)

I’m still proud that a Dallas talent was featured on an tremendously popular international TV show. I guess I wish the food featured was from Dallas. But that’s another story. Okay, kids. Tell us what you think. Oh, and don’t take the brown acid.


  • twinwillow

    I loved the BBQ portions of the show. But as far as the music and all the other “keep Austin weird” schtick is concerned, I think I’ve gotten a bit too old for all that.

  • Bobby Ewing

    I had great affection for this episode (hello Alejandro in El Azteca!), and although I don’t know Daniel I am a big fan of his blog and Tweets. Editing can be a cruel mistress, and perhaps choicely worded widsom and spicy observations were left on the butcher’s block. But a few well rehearsed talking points, a little Texas enthusiasm, and some nice one liners would have gone a LONG way toward making the Ambassador of TX BBQ shine. That being said, I’m proud of any guy who helps Tony reach the conclusion that Texas has the bext BBQ in the USA.

  • A couple of things. Zac doesn’t have any tats, if that’s what you were implying. In any case, I, too, found it odd that Bourdain got a tattoo at that house party — and that he chose a lame sun design. I mean, why didn’t he just get a tribal ring around his bicep or a dolphin on the small of his back? I expected better from him.

    But I wouldn’t say he looked like a grandfather. Dude shotgunned a beer with the rest of the kids. I give him credit there.

    As for Daniel, I’m just steamed that our lead web developer, Randy, got an invite to Daniel’s house for the watching party (whereat some good ‘cue was served). I guess mine (and yours, Nancy) got lost in the mail.

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  • Gipson

    I thought Daniel did great. And really that BBQ speaks for itself. I’m headed down there for a concert in a couple weeks, but I’m afraid the only morning I’ll have for BBQ is Monday … when both Franklin and J Mueller are closed.

    I don’t know about the “grandfather” line, but he did seem oddly weak against peer pressure. Shotgunning the beer, I mean, that’s all good fun, but the tattoo? Never get tattoos on a lark, or you’ll end up with stupid tattoos like a sun with beams emanating out of it on your underarm.

  • Daniel

    I have a sun tattoo, and I look tired, and I would probably be a stiff, awkward cipher on TV, and I would shotgun a beer with only minimal prompting. I don’t try to be hip, though, unless you count my “shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leath” — that’s it, I quit.

    I’ve got plenty of stones, sure, but there’s just so much glass!

  • I appreciate the constructive criticism, Nancy. Maybe I didn’t smile enough on camera, but I was positively beaming when I read this on Bourdain’s blog after the show aired. On Austin:

    “…they have the best barbeque in the country.

    “Yeah. I know. Bold words. Especially coming from a guy who has said many times that North Carolina whole hog style is his preferred last mouthful—and that Kansas City is the best all-around BBQ Center. That was before. This is now.

    “I am reasonably sure—no…I’m damn sure—that I have NEVER tasted barbecue so perfect, so technically accomplished, conscientiously prepared, austerely seasoned (un****ed up), moist, juicy, tender, still shimmering with perfectly suspended internal fat as the beef brisket at Franklin BBQ and the beef ribs at JMueller.”

    So, I might not get my own TV deal out of such a sloth-ish performance, but my greater goal was achieved. I brought Tony to the big guns, John Mueller and Aaron Franklin knocked it out of the park, and Texas Barbecue reigns supreme.

  • David Galloway

    I thought it was a great show all around and made a strong, compelling case for Texas BBQ and Texas. It is Anthony’s Last Waltz so he may be a bit tired, or merely looking ahead to his new gig on TBS. I thought Daniel’s seriousness was transparent as to his attitude of passion toward BBQ, something to not be apologized for. I particularly thought it caught the spirit of SXSW which is a huge seller for Austin. A worthy show to begin the final season of No Res.

  • Daniel

    @Daniel Vaughn


    But not as much as I used to like drugs! Hoo boy, I smoked a whole field of’em, back in my day!

  • william hosey
  • Texas = BBQ Mecca….period…

  • Biff

    I’m just sad that I know who Joe Bob Briggs is without having to look him up. If anyone’s interested, I’ll be buying the rounds of Geritol shots at Luby’s later this afternoon.

  • InsideEdition

    Loved the show. Anybody round here make brisket close to that ?

  • Bravo, BBQSnob! Totally sympatico with your judgement. I hope you get your own show. Or become a barbecue restaurant architect. Hey, I’ve got a pile of peachwood if you need some.

  • twinwillow

    I’m afraid to say, Tony looked like a fish out of water at those “hipster” music venues. Like me, he’s also getting a bit too “long in the tooth” for the “hipster” scene. But as I said above about the BBQ, that part was fantastic!

  • I thought Daniel did great and the videography of the brisket was amazing. I loved the smoker in the rainstorm…but did they add the lightning?

    Ive been trying to get Vaughn to be a restaurant architect!

  • Ken

    Any national publicity for Texas beef BBQ is good, especially when a guy who prefers pork has such great things to say about it. I always thought the hook with “No Reservations” was that is was not heavily edited with polished guests etc. Daniel Vaughn represented well but will piss off a LOT of locals as tourists from all over flock to his website and then crash our favorite BBQ places. Thanks a lot Daniel for escorting that pig loving New Yorker.

  • As a Certified Geezer (over 70) i’d like to offer my opinion.

    Bourdain was totally unnecessary for this program. Sometimes, it’s important to know when it’s time to leave the stage. I’ve read all of Bourdain’s books, and he’s a DYNAMITE writer. I hope he keeps writing. But last season’s episodes of NO RESERVATIONS left me shaking my head in dismay. Even then, he seemed to be struggling. In the Austin episode, he seemed almost desperate: out of date, and outclassed…by his past.

    Daniel writes well, and he knows his stuff. Here’s hoping he’s the guide on the Travel Channel for a series on Texas BBQ.

    The End.

  • I’m with you Granny.

  • The Guy

    Agree with the brisket footage, a.k.a. Smoked Meat Porn. However, I found it odd after the show that nary a mention was made of Franklin’s ribs, which are ridiculous in their own right. Certainly better than the sausage. Anyway, for those that want to wait 2-3 hours for their lunch…have at it. I’ve done it three times at Franklin’s, have wearied of it, and figured out the shortcut. But I concur, national exposure is great exposure.

  • What great news! Daniel, or should I say Vaughn, may actually find my Texas Monthly BBQ story on a web site that’s not exactly a household word! So I don’t need to let him know it’s at I’ll be looking for some feedback from him….