Free of context, Tennessee barbecue on the Wasatch Back sounds like a surefire tourist trap in the making, but the moment you start talking to Richie Lush, any worry about authenticity will quickly dissipate. Even after nearly a decade living in Utah, he speaks with a drawl straight from Lincoln County, Tennessee where he and his barbecue both hail from. Those roots are on full display at his recently opened restaurant in Silver Creek, Lush’s BBQ.
“I’ve had interior decorators come in and ask me who put all this stuff up. I just say, ‘Me. This is my life and what I do.’ I got pictures of my kids and fishing trips and hunting. I got elk and mule deer on the walls. Some people don’t like hunting, well, sorry for your luck,” Lush says.
Lush has that familiar charisma common in confident chefs, but when I asked him what makes his Tennessee barbecue stand out, he was understated, at least at first. “I don’t sauce mine down. That’s pretty much all that separates it,” he says before pausing and unfurling a far more detailed and poignant tale of his recipe’s origins than one would bargain for.
“I guess I get that question a lot, and I don’t know how to answer it. See, I learned from a couple old dudes who just believed in me. Charlie Woodley, who was the first black man to open a barbecue restaurant in Fayetteville, walked up to me one day and said, ‘Your dad always helped me out, and you know what? I think this recipe might help you out.’ Charlie put nothing on the pulled pork, he’d cook whole shoulders and sauce it afterwards with straight vinegar, no tomatoes. But I also learned from this other guy, Cheese, and he had a little tomato in his. So, I kind of mixed it up to somewhere in between a Carolina and Memphis style, like a mix of what I learned from these guys who are now passed. I call it the ‘in between.’”
There are thousands of takes on barbecue and exponentially more opinions on what constitutes perfection. I’m hardly a critic and certainly no pitmaster, but take it from me, the “in between” is awfully good. Think sharp vinegar with a hint of citrus and just a touch of sweetness. When the meat’s just coming off the smoker, you’d be hard pressed to find better ribs, brisket or pulled pork anywhere. Not in Kansas City. Not in Carolina. Not even Texas.
7182 Silver Creek Rd., Park City, 435-333-2831,
Lush’s has a Food Truck, Too
Lush’s BBQ is only open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sundays). Such is the price of meticulously smoked meats. But Lush also runs a food truck that periodically sells in Kamas as people come and go from the Uintas, and it is available for catering events. Get in touch through Lush’s BBQ’s website for more details on food truck availability and locations.
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