James Barrington (left) and Matt Davis (right) are the owners of Wood Shop BBQ in Seattle. They are both friends of Filson and have catered numerous events for us, including our upcoming Father's Day BBQ Bash. We recently went over to the Shop to swap stories and talk BBQ.
How did you get into BBQ?
Matt: My folks owned a furniture store right next door to the local BBQ joint where I grew up in central Kansas. It was a typical rural town, not many people there. I used to scrape together money doing odd jobs as a kid so I could buy BBQ sandwiches from the restaurant, so I guess that’s where my interest began. In my former life I traveled a lot for work and was always popping into every BBQ shop I could find.
James: I grew up here in Seattle but my dad’s side of the family is all from Texas. It was always football and BBQ any time we were down there, so in a way, I grew up with it too. I got a wild idea to buy an ice cream truck after work one day in 2010 to get into the food truck business. That was rough. I ended up selling it to a guy on my crew for $5 a few years later. Somewhere in there I met Matt and we would hang out at his house and he was always making ribs. After a few whiskies one night in 2014 we decided to make a go of starting a BBQ operation in Seattle. We drove down to Mesquite, TX to buy our first smoker, a classic Craigslist find. The guy pulled it out from behind his house with a lawn mower (James laughs). We got it trailered back up to Seattle and started catering that summer; we’ve been in business with Wood Shop ever since.
What areas or techniques have influenced your cooking?
We try to create a traditional Kansas City style with our pork - we use a bit more pepper and a little bit more vinegar in the sauces. Our briskets are classic Texas, simple and prepared by caring a lot about the details. We truck in post oak from Texas and hickory from the Ozarks for all of our smokers. We do our best to make a purist’s BBQ. We cook the way we do because it’s how we think it should be done and people have come to trust that. We take the consistency of our product very seriously and that has served us really well.
How has the PNW shaped your business?
Serving brisket in Seattle is an interesting business (Matt laughs). There was definitely a learning curve for our customers who weren’t familiar with this style of BBQ. How we make it is just not very prominent in the northwest. In Seattle specifically, there is a bit of an expectation around high end food and we just don’t look like that. We keep it casual. There’s a reason we have 800 sq feet inside and a 4000 sq foot patio. It took a while but this town has really come to appreciate us and what we do.
If you could only serve one meat and two sides, what would they be?
James: Brisket. Smoked Jalapeno mac n’ cheese. That’s all I really want. But if you’re making me pick a third, our pit beans are great.
Matt: Full rack of ribs, brisket chili, and I’m with James on our mac n’ cheese - we do that right.
Learn more about Matt and James at Wood Shop BBQ