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Let’s Discuss: Barbecue-Gate, the Case of Critic Leslie Brenner v Full Custom Gospel BBQ Blogger Daniel Vaughn

Doink, doink.

Listen up Dishers, we have a local controversy spreading across the internet faster than a lightning-struck, dry oak– I mean hickory–wood pile in a West Texas windstorm. It’s time we talked about food bloggers, a unit of special victims.

Yesterday, DMN food critic, Leslie Brenner, released “her” Best in DFW Barbecue list.  It didn’t take long for the pits to hit the fans.

Last February, I hired local Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog writer, Daniel “BBQ Snob” Vaughn, to produce a cover story on the best barbecue in our area. In the piece, he focused on many of the out-of-the-way-down-and-dirty finds that usually get overlooked by glossy publications. Turns out many of his spots ended up on Brenner’s list. And Vaughn feels he should have been credited in Brenner’s round-up.

It’s a long story (stories!).  I’ve been tied up for two days (don’t I wish) and I need to get up to speed on the controversy. Thanks to Dallas Observer’s Hanna Raskin for starting the conversation. Thanks to the local bloggers, readers, and friends who have texted, e-mailed, and phoned me with their opinions. Get your knives and forks ready–we shall continue the conversation here on SideDish as soon as I can get my thoughts together. Until then, read the hot links, start talking, or put another log on the fire. There is a lot to discuss. And we like to talk brisket.

D Magazine story

Dallas Morning News Best in DFW: Barbecue

City of Ate

Daniel Vaughn’s Full Custom BBQ blog post response


Gratuitous link

Leslie Brenner’s response.

  • el smokeador

    bullsh. mr vaughn is the king of bbq knowledge in dfw. not surprised that dmn didnt give him credit. they wouldnt even call a certain couple of turkey champions for a post competition interview. again, bullsh.

  • el smokeador

    i should say i am not saying that nancy’s article is bullsh. dmn not giving daniel credit for the work he put into his d magazine cover is bullsh. just to clarify.

  • Randy D.

    I think Brenner often gets a bad rap, but the evidence here looks pretty clear. She owes Vaughn a public credit and an apology.

  • Nate

    Don’t stop there Randy De, why not tar and feather her!

  • Logan

    The oak vs hickory mistake…wow, there is no getting around that for her. She obviously relied extremely heavily on his research. Makes me question her other work.

  • TruDat

    Brenner dismisses not acknowledging that she used his list by stating it’s an accepted journalistic practice to not credit base research. What she fails to understand or appreciate, is the level of research he did to come up with his list. He researched for a year and went to 130 different places…she yanked his list and a couple of others, and then listed the same places.

  • JD

    I thought Leslie’s response was a bit arrogant, but that is besides the point. The DMN is barely relevant in that Dallas dining scene in my book. I can’t recall the last time I went somewhere based on their recommendation.

    Odds are 5 years from now Full Custom Gospel will still be the go-to source for Dallas Q and Leslie will be in a different city.

  • JTT

    Re: Brenner’s last statement: “Restaurant discoveries are not in any sense intellectual discoveries.”

    Critics are the champions of artists, they exist as the liaison between the public and the vanguard . Brenner certainly is not when she ends an public reply that way.

    In this day and age where the population at large is invested and engaged with food and interested in chefs, not as trades-people, but as creative artists, a critic’s restaurant discovery is analogous to Clive Davis discovering Alicia Keys to
    Clement Greenberg writing about Jackson Pollock. How can one be at the echelon of one’s field without believing that? In Dallas, where we have the most restaurants per capita?

    Tacos vs BBQ – not the same argument. What makes BBQ good is highly contentious.

    I also found her overall stance appalling and her claims incredulous, on the basis of ethics alone. From an academic and professional standpoint, it’s just not sound. Plagiarism, as I learned it as an undergraduate and graduate, meant not just crediting “quotes” but also crediting any ideas I didn’t come up with myself.

    Her argument is weak and full of holes. She owes him an apology and needs a refresher course in journalism ethics.

  • jane

    Leslie Brenner left LA in shame with the critics nipping at her heels. They hated her there…

  • Gayle

    This is either plagiarism or something so close to it that the News should take it seriously. In her condescending email to Vaughn, Brenner wrote, “It’s natural that there turns out to be a lot of overlap in our lists, as there are a limited number of barbecue places in the DF-W area that smoke their meats over wood.”

    It’s true that there are a limited number of local barbecue joints that use wood only, and not electric or gas-powered smokers. But it’s also true that the only way Brenner would be able to identify which ones fit that description is by picking up a copy of Vaughn’s D Magazine article. She couldn’t get that information about most of the joints on her borrowed list from any other publication. She can’t even bring herself to admit that. She’s in total denial.

  • Borborygmus

    Poem working: Cue, do, new, too, chew, p.u., boo.

    Too tired, that’s all I got.

  • KitchenDoor

    Nancy? Are you going to write more? are there new developments?

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