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Posted: November 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Regional barbecue in a bottle

Oxford native develops line of barbecue sauces

Mandi Singer/

Too good not to share: Oxford native Dustin Vanderbunt and Covington Cooks owners Robyn Bowen, left, and Wendy Harrington stand with a selection of the six regional barbecue sauce varieties that he created.

Dustin Vanderbunt knows his barbecue. As the co-owner and chef at Ed Boudreaux’s Bayou Bar-B-Que restaurant in Ashville, N.C., which bills itself the home of the "Voodoo Reuben," Vanderbunt, along with his business partner Erik Feichter of Waynesville, N.C., has developed a line of 14 sauces.

Recently, the pair began bottling six of the sauces for sale, which are available for purchase at the Covington Cooks store on the Covington square. The most recent sauce, Georgia Peach, has been a big hit with the Ashville crowd, said Vanderbunt.

"People wanted it bottled," said Vanderbunt. "People that fly in and come by to see us. They always want to buy sauce to go as souvenirs."

Bottling is more of a marketing tool to bring people to the restaurant, he explained, since it often doesn’t make a profit.

The Oxford native, who graduated from Newton County Comprehensive School in 1990 and moved to North Carolina for college, created the sauces from the memory of his trips around the country and his time living in New Orleans. From the creamy Alabama White to the South Carolina mustard-based Rebel Uprising, each sauce reflects unique regional flavors as well as Vanderbunt and Feichter’s creativity.

"You travel around and try them," he explained modestly. "If you like them, you just duplicate them."

For starters, he recommended the Memphis Red, a familiar tomato-based sauce, the spicy Texas Two Step and, of course, the versatile Ed’s Original Creole, which can be used as a marinade and a sauce.

Some mistakes people often make in barbecue are to apply sauces with sugar on the meat too early, burning the sugars. "If people put sauce on their meat, you want to do it at the end," he explained. "They’re supposed to caramelize, but they’ll end up burning."

Another rule of thumb is to cook it "low and slow – that’s the barbecue model," he said. "It’s part of the slow food movement - something Paul Newman started with Charlie Trotter and a bunch of other people. You shouldn’t be in a hurry when you’re cooking."

Vanderbunt and Feichter are developing their website, www.edbbq.com, to offer sales of the sauces and other merchandise online. For now, the sauces are available locally at Covington Cooks.

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