James Fox of Bootleggers on the Barbecue Trend in Phoenix
It's taken a while, but if you're a fan of slow-smoked barbecue, then you're probably already aware that we have a solid selection of 'cue joints in this town. There are the standby options like Bryan's Black Mountain BBQ in Cave Creek, but also newcomers to the scene, including Bootleggers, a "modern American smokehouse" that opened its first location in North Phoenix about a year ago.
You could say that Bootleggers was the first sign that Phoenix might be on the right track to joining the list of cities across the country currently experiencing a revival in interest for barbecued meats. And now with the restaurant's second location open in Scottsdale, we're pretty confident in saying that we're well on our way.
Bootleggers executive chef James Fox agrees there's more interest in barbecue now than in recent years. Just look at the explosion of 'cue-focused television shows, such as BBQ Pitmasters, and a recent MasterCard commercial that features chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Franklin Barbecue in Austin.
Lauren Saria Inside the second location of Bootleggers in Scottsdale.
"I definitely think it's everywhere now," Fox says.
But unlike in places like Texas and North Carolina, Arizona isn't known for a particular regional style of BBQ. Fox says it's a double-edged sword for pit masters in the Valley. Since many Arizonans haven't been exposed to much barbecue, they often don't know what makes "good" barbecue. On the upside, that leaves the door open for chefs like Fox to do barbecue however they see fit without having to worry about straying from time-honored traditions.
"I wouldn't say we have a style at Bootleggers," Fox says. "I would say it's 'James Fox-style.' I want to make barbecue the way I like to eat barbecue. I don't want to be pigeonholed."