By Burt Henry, San Antonio Express-News
April 24, 2014
SAN ANTONIO — Jeffrey Savell, Ph.D., has made Texas barbecue a science, so much so that Texas A&M University lets him teach a class in it.
Officially known as “ANSC 117: Texas Barbecue,” Savell’s study in BBQology is a one-hour class only offered to freshmen on Friday afternoons in the fall. Just bring your taste buds and your textbook: “Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook,” by Robb Walsh. Course topics include everything from seasonings, marinades and rubs to “Briskets: To wrap or not to wrap, that is the question!”
“There’s something we always tell our students: If you learn to cook barbecue you’ll always have friends,” said Savell, who will be part of a panel for Friday’s “Cooking Up Culture” at the Institute of Texan Cultures.
Savell, who has a doctorate in animal science, is the perfect pitmaster. A native Texan who has spent the past 36 years on the A&M faculty, he’s tasted just about all forms of Texas barbecue — and doesn’t mind talking about it. He’s so passionate about the subject that when approached recently by representatives of Weber Grills regarding his popular class, he said he texted his grown children, “I’m about to pee in my pants” with excitement.
Savell’s class and a “barbecue science” class offered at Ohio State University are believed to be the only on-campus barbecue classes in the country.
He also has parlayed the class with A&M and Foodways Texas into two weekend workshops — a barbecue camp in June and Camp Brisket in January, both of which are sellouts.
“We could have one of these every other weekend if we wanted to,” Savell, 60, said. “We bring in a carcass, its like paparazzi; everybody’s got their cameras out; they’re blogging or tweeting about it. Its crazy. For some, its almost like a religious event.”