Class is served

Wounded Warriors learn art of smoking brisket


Smoking brisket is not an easy task to complete; just ask the 20 newest Certified Backyard Pitmasters who graduated from Brisket University last Saturday morning.

Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse on the Interstate 10 Frontage Road in Sealy donated the space and drinks for Brisket U, along with the very necessary smoker and instructors to teach a class full of people how to properly cook a brisket from the prep to the slicing.

The students in Saturday’s makeshift classroom, however, were not ordinary people. The class was done in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project.

Brisket University, which has been featured on Netflix, the Food Network Magazine, and elsewhere, is a comprehensive, three-hour class that takes students, who normally pay $74 for a class that usually takes place at a brewery, through every step to creating a barbecue masterpiece in brisket form.

Co-founder Mike Albrecht, a partner at 9th Wonder Advertising, uses his weekends to show people the ropes around the smoker. Alongside him is pitmaster Scott Valdiviez, who noted he built up his heat retention to smoking meats in the Texas heat in the oil industry where he worked as a welder. A few years ago, when the opportunity arose for him to leave that job and smoke meats full-time, he gladly picked up an apron.

Now, for the last few years, regular citizens in the Houston, Austin and College Station areas can turn into certified pitmasters in a few hours. Hands-on demonstrations supplement lecture-style teachings with a complementary slideshow with pictures and videos that detail each step needed in order to get the most out of the meats.

Then, of course, is the pay-off of their efforts that emerge from the smoker after about 16 hours (placed in the night before by Valdiviez) and sliced with the correct technique and taste-tested depending upon where the piece originated from.

With the end of the tasting, so too came the end of the class and the distribution of the completion certificates, only officially conferred with a grease-filled thumbprint. Brisket University also offers classes and certifications in chicken, turkey, ribs, wild game, and a hog-smoking class will be coming soon.

One of many lessons taught by Professor Valdiviez was an important one regardless of the meat that has been smoked.

“If people leave your barbecue talking about how good your sauce was, the meat probably wasn’t all that good,” he said.


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