Bryan Dooley Dishes on His Favorite Food Smell (It Isn't Food) and How He Became a BBQ Boss
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Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue
6130 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
This is part one of my interview with Bryan Dooley, the chef-owner (and barbecue master) at Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue in Cave Creek. Come back tomorrow for part two!
Bryan Dooley became a chef in the way so many chefs do: He grew up around people who loved to cook and who made good food the focal point of every family gathering. Raised in Illinois, he spent entire summers at his grandparents' place -- a 170-acre former Boy Scout Camp with woods to roam and a lake to fish. His grandmother gardened, canned and made jams -- as well as the barbecue sauce that would glaze his grandfather's hickory-smoked, Southern-style pit barbecue.
But Dooley -- who was just as artsy as he was outdoorsy, strumming his ever-present guitar and writing poetry as proof -- thought he wanted to be a photographer, and to that end, he attended NAU, where he earned a fine arts degree. Working on the family farm after graduation and feeling unfulfilled, he met a CIA-grad chef at his cousin's wedding who noted Dooley's obvious interest in food and suggested he enroll at the CIA in Hyde Park.
Nikki Buchanan Slab of pork ribs, baked potato salad and olive cole slaw
After gaining restaurant experience at a seafood restaurant in Galveston, Texas -- where he was thrown on the grill but wound up mastering just about every job in the restaurant -- Dooley attended the CIA, applying for chef jobs in the Southwest upon graduation. He landed a line cook gig in the kitchen of the Marquesa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort and stayed at the resort for 13 years, moving from various restaurants to banquet and back again, working different stations (including saucier and garde manger) and never tiring of the learning.
But when he broke his leg, which gave him the opportunity to slow down and think about what he wanted to do with his life, he figured out (with a little nudge from his wife, Donna) that he wanted his own restaurant. As residents of Cave Creek (which Dooley loves for its distinctly Western flavor), the Dooleys knew what their small town needed: good barbecue. They opened Bryan's to rave reviews in 2008, and Dooley published his own cookbook Stories and Recipes From Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue in December 2011.