Food & Drink
Spring Couple making waves in Local BBQ Scene
Meet Wade and Kathy Elkins, founders and owners of My Yard Reaction BBQ (MYRB), a company that hosts local BBQ pop-ups, catering, and special events. Although new on the BBQ scene, many claim that the duo’s Texas BBQ rivals some of the best in the Greater Houston area. In the past year they have been invited to showcase their Texas BBQ, sides and desserts at The Woodlands BBQ Festival, Houston BBQ Throwdown, The Butcher’s Ball competition in Brenham, and the Houston vs. Austin BBQ Throwdown at Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
MYRB’s smoked meats include all the Texas staples such as brisket, pork ribs, sausage, beef ribs and pulled pork – but they don’t stop there. The Elkins have known to surprise their guests with smoked boudin, steaks, seafood, and their much-sought-after Wagyu burgers on Cake and Bacon buns.
Kathy also serves impressive side items, such as German potato salad, traditional coleslaw, charro beans, pickled red onions, cabbage marmalade, and candied jalapeño to perfectly complement Wade’s array of smoked meats.
Wade and Kathy showed off their skills at the Houston BBQ Throwdown and wowed crowds with their unusual take on Texas BBQ by doing a Wagyu Brisket Bento. The Wagyu Brisket Bento was made of Marble Ranch Wagyu Beef Brisket smoked with Post Oak and Pecan Wood, a beef tendon puff with house smoked shrimp salt, sesame seaweed salad, smoked enoki mushrooms, radish, sticky rice with a special sauce, black seed green onion, bulls blood, cilantro and coriander seed microgreens.
Recently Wade announced the big news that he will be the Assistant Pitmaster to Patrick Feges of the soon-to-open Feges BBQ. Patrick handpicked Wade who will be working alongside Chef Erin Smith Feges. This team is expected to be an unstoppable combination for the Houston BBQ scene.
In late February, Wade held a “My Yard to Yours BBQ Class” teaching attendees on how to be more confident and knowledgeable on backyard BBQ and smoking techniques. Everything from meat selection, prep, seasonings and rubs, fire and wood maintenance, temp control and slicing and serving. This highly informative class included instruction on the differences between good smoke and bad smoke, as well as safety and disaster scenarios with working with live fire. One of the class attendees and weekend backyard BBQ warrior, Neil Garvis, said “I learned more in 6 hours with Wade than 6 years of reading bbq books and watching YouTube videos”.
Hello Woodlands had the opportunity to sit down with Wade and Kathy to dig more into their growing business.
Wade: Where did the name My Yard Reaction BBQ come from?
My Yard Reaction BBQ is a pun. The reference comes from a French scientist named Maillard that discovered the the chemical reaction that creates flavor in food. He found out that browning foods, like toasting bread or searing a steak, is the root of flavor. Upon learning this, I was cooking a lot of bbq in my backyard smoker, so it kind of just came to me as a clever name.
Wade: Where did you learn how to smoke meats?
The passion to cook bbq came from my father. I still have the smoker that he had when I was a kid, it’s called a Tiernan Son Of A Brisket and was manufactured on 4/20/1986, I think the manufacturer had a sense of humor. From there, I took the passion and devoted it to researching bbq on YouTube and came across Aaron Franklin’s brisket series. That was definitely a turning point for me. Hands down, the best information available on smoking a brisket.
Wade: When did My Yard Reaction BBQ start and how does Kathy fit into the business?
We started in mid 2017 at a BBQ cook off in Conroe at Southern Star Brewing. From there we already had most of the gear we needed to do catering so when a memorial charity golf tournament for a friend’s mom came up, I offered to cook the food for free as My Yard Reaction BBQ, that was our first event. Kathy, my wife, is a professional chef. She graduated from Art Institute of Houston in 2005 and has been in the kitchen ever since. Her knowledge and skills are paramount to our concept. Most of the sides, condiments and behind the scenes prep is executed by Kathy. It’s definitely a partnership.
Kathy: How do you like working with your husband?
I definitely love working together. Our experiences mesh well, and I feel like we have a broad knowledge base with his experience with bbq and my culinary background. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!
Kathy: So you do the sides and desserts? What are your favorites to make?
I love to make the cabbage marmalade and the smoked sweet potato cornbread
Kathy: How long have you been a professional chef?
Since 2006. I started with Wade’s aunt in catering then transitioned to Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, where I worked for 6 years.
Wade: Out of all the BBQ meats you do, which ones do you consider your specialty?
I would say my specialty would be Beef Short Ribs. To me they are as good as brisket take about half the time to cook!! Of course brisket is a close second, and our pulled pork is the best I’ve had.
Wade: It’s been a great year for you, what was it like to compete in the Butcher’s Ball?
The Butcher’s Ball was an amazing experience. I think I stayed up for 47 hours straight that weekend. I did a event the day before where we fed 200 people in a field on a farm, left their and went to Brenham and started cooking overnight to serve for Butchers Ball. The bbq and chef community in Houston is so embracing, it truly feels like a family. We also butchered a steer in the back of a reefer van at 3am, not sure anyone knows about that, you may be the first to print that. The story goes that when we arrived to the event we were told that there was a half of a 44 Farms steer in the cold van and that we were welcome to take whatever we needed from that steer. Patrick Feges and myself, along with a few friends, proceeded to butcher a ribeye roast, rib section and beef belly, that we cooked overnight for the event.
Wade: What has been your favorite special event?
I would say the Butchers Ball was my favorite. Being there with so many talented chefs and farmers was a great experience.
Wade: What made you decide to jump on the Assistant Apprentice position with Patrick Feges at Feges BBQ?
Honestly, it was the because I respect Patrick and Erin tremendously, and I hope to learn as much as possible from them before I open my own concept. Also, they are a husband and wife power couple that have many similarities that my wife and I also share.
Wade: How will your new position affect the future of My Yard Reaction BBQ?
Being the awesome people Patrick and Erin are, they have expressed and encouraged that I continue operating My Yard Reaction BBQ as I see fit, and that’s what I intend to do. Of course the pop-up portion of my concept will slow down, but we will definitely take on catering and invitational events as long as they don’t conflict with Feges BBQ.
Wade: Why did you decide to go to hold a class on BBQ and smoking techniques? Isn’t that like giving your secrets?
That’s a great question! The class was originally part of the silent auction at the Butchers Ball and was purchased by Kim Korth, CEO of Edible Houston. All funds from the auction went relief to farmers who experienced property damage from Harvey. I definitely had to think hard about giving away trade secrets, but in that process, I realized that I wish I had someone willing to pass on knowledge when I was starting out, that’s what helped me justify the class. Ultimately, I wanted to share basic techniques that would immediately improve your backyard BBQ game and help you understand a little bit of the science behind BBQ. I honestly don’t think there is enough time in a day to pass on all the knowledge one picks up as professional pitmaster. There are tricks and secrets that only come from experience and actively cooking, they can’t be taught.
Wade: Do you plan to do another class on the northside?
Absolutely! The next class will be a course on ribs. Beef and pork. More details coming soon!
Wade: Who are your influences or mentors in the Texas BBQ world?
I would say Aaron Franklin, even though we have never met. He was the one that pulled back the curtain on bbq for me and made me see the art and simplicity in good BBQ. Also, the entire BBQ community in Texas is so embracing. You truly feel like family, it’s very humbling, and makes you understand the importance of support and friendship. Patrick Feges has always been supportive at the events we worked together, his willingness to pass on experience and info is amazing. I’ve learned tricks from him in a matter of minutes that would take me years to figure out on my own.
Kathy: Who are your influences in the Chef world?
Influences are Lynette Hawkins, Richard Knight and my momma. Lynette Hawkins is the owner/chef of Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, our favorite restaurant, and what we consider the best food in Houston.
Wade: Being the new guy that has been invited to BBQ Festivals and BBQ Throwdowns, how were you accepted by your peers?
As I mentioned before, the BBQ family in Texas is amazing. Nothing but love and support from my peers. It’s been great.
How do you support other local businesses with yours?
We always try to use a local component in our events, mostly a local baker or farmer. We also have cooked briskets for a local tamale vendor, Geo’s Catering, Arlene makes the best tamales I’ve ever had.
Wade/ Kathy: What and/or who do you attribute your success to?
We attribute our success to our support from family and friends. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to grow our concept.
Wade: 5 Words to describe My Yard Reaction BBQ?
Fun. Inventive. Smokey. Tenacious. Love.
Learn more about Wade and Kathy Elkins, My Yard Reaction BBQ, and discover upcoming BBQ pop-ups near you by following their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/maillardreaction.
Nick Rama is a food writer, contributor of Hello Woodlands, and shares his restaurant experiences on Nick’s Local Eats at NicksLocalEats.com and the Q Up The Burgers Facebook page. Nick enjoys helping the small business owner, supporting his community with fundraising for food banks, and plans tasting events with locally owned mom and pop restaurants.