THE PITMASTER SERIES: Jack Timmons of Jack's BBQ in Seattle, WA
If you ever find yourself in Seattle and homesick for Texas, Jack’s BBQ is where to go to feel right at home in the Pacific Northwest. Jack Timmons moved to Seattle 30 years ago, and after career turns with Boeing and Microsoft, went back to Texas to attend BBQ Summer Camp at Texas A&M before returning to Seattle to open his own BBQ joint, Jack’s BBQ. Now open over two years, Jack’s BBQ is the go-to for authentic Texas BBQ for Seattlites, and a place to call a home away from home for Texpats in Seattle.
"There is a DNA level of friendship between fellow Texans."
S&D: You had a pretty lengthy career in the aerospace and computer industries. How’d you end up making BBQ?
JACK: I’ve always had a smoker, and I started reading the blog of Daniel Vaughn. Then I found out about the BBQ Summer Camp [at Texas A&M], and that’s when I went down the rabbit hole.
S&D: What’s your biggest takeaway from studying BBQ formally, inside the classroom, so to speak?
JACK: That every brisket is different, and you have to cook each one differently.
S&D: And what’s the most important thing you've learned outside the classroom?
JACK: That it’s not scientific; you do it by touch. Here [at Jack’s BBQ], we go through about 100 brisket each week; that’s 10-25 briskets a day. It’s the difference between playing guitar once or twice a week, or playing several times a day.
S&D: Did you find yourself needing to make changes to the central Texas BBQ style in order to suit the local palette?
JACK: Everyone here thinks BBQ is about the sauce, and the meat is almost an afterthought. We’ve had to teach people to eat without sauce. (Although we do make a great BBQ sauce, with four kinds of peppers.)
S&D: What’s some fun out-of-the-box stuff you do here?
JACK: We make beef bacon, which we use in a BLT and in our bloody marys. Sometimes we do sushi for Sunday brunch, adding brisket to sushi rolls. We used to smoke portobello mushrooms as a vegan option, but people don’t tend come here for vegan options. We use smoked orange and smoked brown sugar in our cocktails and beverages, like our old fashioned, and our sweet tea.
S&D: Apart from your food, how do you bring Texas to Seattle?
JACK: When you move away [from Texas], you miss the food and the people. So I’ve recreated that here. There is a DNA level of friendship between fellow Texans. Texans come and eat here every day; this is where Texans in Seattle hang out.