Aaron Franklin is one of the most influential figures when it comes to the BBQ industry. Aaron is celebrated around the world for his mouth-watering brisket. Franklin has won every major BBQ award there is to win including the Texas Monthly’s coveted Best Barbecue Joint in Texas award and Bon Appétit’s Best Barbecue Joint in America. He has also snatched the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest. Franklin’s ability has been touted to be the best by actors and celebrities including Jimmy Kimmel and Barack Obama. Visitors line outside his restaurant for hours to get a chance to taste his brisket. He is also the author of two books, Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto and Franklin Steak: Dry-Aged. Live-Fired. Pure Beef, and the host of a PBS series, BBQ with Franklin. In this article, we will explore his journey from a backyard dabbler to a king of Texas pitmasters, his secrets behind truly great barbecue, and his passion for steak.
Aaron Franklin was born on December 17, 1977, in Bryan, Texas, and grew up around barbecue. His parents owned a barbecue stand when he was young, and he learned how to cook brisket from his grandfather. He moved to Austin in 1998 and worked as a musician and a cook at various restaurants. He met his wife, Stacy, at a bar and they bonded over their love of food.
Franklin and his wife Stacey would host a weekly cookout for their friends at their home. Comments from friends and family later urged the couple to open up a barbeque stand on the side of the road. This kicked things into action and soon enough Franklin was one of the best BBQ joints in the USA. Not only was Franklin loved by consumers, but it was also celebrated by critics including Gordon Ramsay who praised Aaron Franklin’s brisket on Twitter.
In 2009, they decided to open up a small barbecue trailer on the side of an Austin interstate, using their savings and a $950 smoker. They had no idea what they had gotten themselves into. They started with only a few briskets a day, but soon they had lines of customers waiting for hours to get a taste of their barbecue. They sold out of brisket every day since their opening.
In 2011, they moved to a brick and mortar location on Austin’s historic East Side, painted in the same color scheme as their original trailer. The restaurant has a capacity of 150 people, but it still attracts long lines every day. They open at 11 am and close when they run out of meat, usually around 2 or 3 pm.
In 2017 Aaron launched the Hot Luck Fest alongside James Moody and Mike Thelin. The annual festival brought music and food to the people of Texas. He also launched the Asian smokehouse and bar “Loro,” alongside chef Tyson Cole. Aaron is also the proud owner of Franklin Barbeque Pits, which they launched in 2020.
Television & Authorship
Aaron Franklin is not just a cook; he is an artist. He has a deep respect for the craft of barbecue and a relentless pursuit of perfection. He has spent years honing his skills and experimenting with different techniques and variables. He has also shared his knowledge and passion with others through his books, TV show, and online videos.
Aaron makes regular appearances in the HBO series BBQ Pitmasters. Touted as one of the best pitmasters of his generation, Franklin is also involved in the show BBQ with Franklin. He is also the author of two cookbooks entitled, Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto and Franklin Steak: Dry-Aged. Live-Fired. Pure Beef.
Franklin Barbecue is a definitive resource for the backyard pitmaster, with chapters dedicated to building or customizing your own smoker; finding and curing the right wood; creating and tending perfect fires; sourcing top-quality meat; and of course, cooking mind-blowing, ridiculously delicious barbecue.
Franklin Steak is a celebration of steak, from dry aging to reverse searing, from charcoal grilling to live fire cooking. It covers everything from choosing the right cut to seasoning, slicing, and serving.
Awards and Honors
Aaron Franklin has received numerous awards and honors for his barbecue. He is the first chef who specializes in barbecue to be nominated for, or receive, the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest, which he won in 2015. He has also been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015, one of Bon Appétit’s Best New Chefs in America in 2012, and one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2015.
His restaurant has been featured on many media outlets, such as Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, The Today Show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Chef (a film by Jon Favreau), and The New York Times. It has also been ranked first in Texas Monthly’s “The 50 Best BBQ Joints” in 2013 and 2017, and “Best Barbecue in America” by Bon Appétit in 2011.
He has also attracted many famous visitors to his restaurant, such as President Barack Obama (who bought lunch for those in line behind him), David Chang (who called him “the best pitmaster alive”), Anthony Bourdain (who said his brisket was “the finest I’ve ever had”), Gordon Ramsay (who praised his ribs), Jon Favreau (who cast him in his movie), and Jimmy Kimmel (who invited him to cook on his show).
Aaron Franklin has an estimated net worth of $2 Million as of 2023.
Aaron Franklin is married to Stacy Franklin, who is also his business partner and the co-owner of Franklin Barbecue. They met in Austin in their twenties and in the years of togetherness, they have given birth to one daughter.
A quick write on his wife: Stacy Franklin
Stacy Franklin is the co-owner and chief operating officer of Franklin Barbecue, as well as the co-owner of Franklin Barbecue Sauce. She is a Texas-born entrepreneur who started her career by working in her family’s snow cone stand at the age of thirteen. She has successfully managed and expanded the operations of Franklin Barbecue, as well as launched new ventures such as Franklin Barbecue Pits, a line of backyard barbecue pits, and other products such as charcoal, seasoning, butcher paper, and a grill. She is also a board member of Les Dames d’Escoffier Austin, a non-profit organization that supports women in the culinary industry.
Aaron and Stacy Franklin have one child, Vivian Franklin, who was born in 2006. Vivian is often seen helping out at the restaurant or attending events with her parents. She has inherited her parents’ passion for music and food, and enjoys playing guitar and cooking.