Barbecue

Elon Musk Wants To Throw The Biggest Barbecue In Texas History. We Have Some Suggestions.

It'll be your basic neighborhood block party, like this one they held in Berlin, Germany.
It'll be your basic neighborhood block party, like this one they held in Berlin, Germany. Courtesy of Tesla
When you’re the world’s wealthiest man, people tend to listen to what you have to say. So it goes with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who like thousands of other Californians, recently packed up his things and moved to Texas. Of course, Musk’s things include Tesla, which made the move official in December via a securities filing that lists the company headquarters as the truly gargantuan Gigafactory site in Austin.

Musk’s love of tweeting is well known at this point, and couldn’t help himself when he was asked, via tweet, if Tesla’s Texas site would hold a similar event to Gigafest, the massive “county fair” that Tesla held to mark the opening of their factory in Berlin back in October. The suggestion included a similar factory tour, a gathering of Tesla owners, and naturally, barbecue.

“Hell yeah” was Musk's two-word reply.

While this brief exchange happened back in October, the intensity ramped up last weekend when Musk once again took to Twitter to confirm that the massive gathering was a go for April 7th.
The Tesla event in Berlin was limited to just 5,000 people due to restrictions from the German government surrounding COVID-19. Now that pandemic restrictions are easing everywhere (and especially in Texas), the Texas Tesla event will likely be much larger. The Tesla owner fan site Teslarati suggested that the Giga Texas event could “unintentionally be the largest barbeque [sic] in Texas state history.”

Naturally, any talk of a barbecue this big catches our attention. And since Elon is relatively new to Texas and probably new to barbecuing, we have some suggestions for him to ingratiate himself to his fellow Texans. Here’s hoping he reads our tweets.

Suggestion 1: Learn the lingo.
If Musk is going to make friends in the Lone Star State, being able to talk about barbecue is going to be key. We could drop a thousand words here and still not cover everything, but a savvy business exec like Musk would only expect the highlights anyway. Musk needs to know that Texans take their barbecue as seriously as their football. He should know that Texas barbecue is made up of four distinct regions, and the Central Texas stuff around Tesla’s Austin home will be a lot different from what can be found in East Texas or South Texas. When someone mentions the Holy Trinity, they’re likely referring to brisket, ribs and sausage instead of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.

Musk surely knows that everything's bigger in Texas, but he needs to know that this is going to apply to opinions about barbecue, too. A fan of low and slow cooking is sure to be countered with someone who swears by their hot and fast brisket, while a debate takes off near by about the merits of post oak versus mesquite wood. Musk would be wise not to take sides until he can back up his arguments; best to smile, raise your Shiner, then bow out.

Suggestion 2: Be smart: outsource!
Musk’s credentials as an innovator and tech mogul are without reproach. And while he holds the title of CEO and Chief Engineer of SpaceX, we’re going to suggest that barbecuing is actually harder than rocket science. Trying to barbecue for the first time is a recipe for disaster, as the previous Observer barbecue scribe Gavin Cleaver learned first-hand.

One of the reasons Texas is so attractive to incoming businesses is partly due to the knowledgeable workforce that lives here. And Giga Texas sits smack dab in the middle of Texas barbecue country. So instead of trying to smoke a bunch of meats themselves, Tesla should outsource this to some of the best pitmasters the country has to offer, who conveniently call Texas home. Start with Texas Monthly’s Top 50, include the 50 Honorable Mentions, and start making calls for them to hitch up their smokers and trailers and bring the barbecue to you.

Suggestion 3: Don’t be afraid to innovate.
Musk’s career is all about rethinking norms. SpaceX is the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft. Tesla has become the most valuable automotive company and leads the world in sales of electric vehicles.

So as much as Texas barbecue is a cuisine steeped heavily in traditions, a Tesla barbecue is a chance to break some rules. Why not ask an outsider to rethink some of our ideas and make them better? While history has Texans burning wood to smoke meats, there are plenty of gas-fired smokers in use. So imagine, for a moment, an entire section of the barbecue dedicated to alternative fuel smokers. We’ve already got electric smokers that ignite wood pellets, but is solar an option, especially if we found it could cook just as well?

And while burning wood may not be great for the environment, it turns out that raising livestock is orders of magnitude worse. According to the United Nations, global livestock contributes to over 14% of greenhouse gas emissions each year, as much as all the cars, trucks, airplanes and ships combined in the world today. Could Musk’s knack for innovation come up with new ways to raise the food we eat with a better eye to what’s good for the environment?

Suggestion 4: Just … don’t.
Admittedly, this suggestion doesn’t stand a chance. Too many egos are in play. But maybe, just nix the idea of trying to pull off the biggest barbecue ever?

We love a great barbecue as much as the next person. As much fun as a gathering of the most loyal Tesla owners sounds, while acknowledging the recognition that inviting the state’s biggest barbecue names could bring them, there are some good reasons not to do this.

First and foremost, inflation is already hitting restauranteurs and the dining public directly in the wallet. The price of everything is higher, but food costs are particularly impacted by inflation’s effects. The ripple effects of buying enough meat for a legion of hungry Tesla owners might be minimal but does anything to ease demand.

Finally, as much as it pains us to write, there’s more to Texas cuisine than just barbecue. It’s a tough time to run a restaurant, and Tesla could use this opportunity to boost business for all restauranteurs across the state and not just the pitmasters. For proof, we need to look no further than the newest James Beard nominees, with 11 nods in Dallas-Fort Worth alone. Why not celebrate everything Texas has to offer?

As Elon Musk can vouch, Texas has drawn a wide variety of people across cultures to our state. With them comes food traditions and foodways that are wonderfully diverse, and intersect in new and different ways across Texas. So let’s show off Tesla’s new factory if we must, and bring out all of our Tesla friends, but let’s take the time to recognize all the food greatness that makes up the Lone Star State while we do it.
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Chris Wolfgang has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2015. Originally from Florida, Chris moved to Dallas in 1997 and has carried on a secret affair with the Oxford comma for over 20 years.
Contact: Chris Wolfgang