The Takeaway: San Antonio Pitmaster Brandon Peterson on Breaking From the Texas Barbecue Norm


  • Zackery Newton
Name: Brandon Peterson
Job: Pitmaster and Owner, Bandit BBQ
Birthplace: Lubbock, Texas
Years in food service: Six
Big impact: In February, Peterson will open his new barbecue spot inside Southtown’s Freight Gallery, 1913 S. Flores St.
Money quote: “While touring [in rock band the Umbrellas], I got to try things from just about every state. I draw influences from all over the place.”

Tell us about your background and how you got where you are?
I moved to California to play music, but I eventually started cooking and teaching myself how to cook. I would call my mom and grandparents to learn how to make things, and I quickly decided to try my hand at barbecue. I eventually started [a] catering company. I was looking to open a restaurant [in California], but the opportunity arose here, and we were looking to make a change. I took the leap of faith and moved here with my wife, my 21-month old daughter and our three pups.

Did you go to culinary school or are you self-taught?
I’m self-taught. I couldn’t find the food I wanted in California, so I learned how to make the things that I wanted to eat.

What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of this is making people smile through good food and connecting people. Hopefully we’ll be seeing the same faces every week.

What’s your favorite ingredient to cook with and why?
Probably brisket. Brisket is one of those things where some people can do it and some people can’t. It’s one of those things that, when you put [in] the time and patience, you end up with a really great product at the end.

What’s your secret weapon at work?
Apple cider vinegar works its way into a lot of recipes. It’s good for everything, apparently.

Who was the mentor that had the biggest effect on your career?
My mom is always trying to one-up herself, and both sets of grandparents were very good cooks. My grandpa on my mom’s side did barbecue catering. We’d sit out and make brisket together. My spicy barbecue sauce is based off his original sauce recipe. It’s about 60 years old. That’s the sauce I grew up eating.

What’s next for you?
I plan to open Bandit BBQ sometime in February. We’ll be open for breakfast and lunch, or until the meat runs out. We’ll have tacos and biscuits and sandwiches, with brisket and pulled pork available.

What are some unusual things that people can look forward to eating?
Some of the things I do are not the Texas barbecue norm. I’ll be doing smoked tri-tips, which is kind of a California specialty that I’ll be testing out. My mustard-based barbecue sauce was inspired by my trips through the Carolinas. While touring [in the band], I got to try things from just about every state. I draw influences from all over the place. It’s not necessarily a Texas thing, but people really dig it.

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