Food is powerful.
Through the tiniest bite or the slightest aroma, food can remind us of our most incredible memories while creating new shared experiences that transcend social barriers.
Every summer, a diverse group of barbecue enthusiasts assembles on the Texas A&M University campus for one reason: Barbecue Summer Camp. These enthusiasts come from all over the world, serve in various careers and embrace their unique human experience while bonding over their mutual love and respect for barbecue. Attracting both hobbyists and professional chefs alike, the camp attendees often spend years on the waiting list to get the opportunity to learn the basics of barbecue from the best in the country.
We see relationships forged in this classroom among people who would have never met, except for this camp.Jeffrey W. Savell, Ph.D., vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences
“My favorite thing about our meat science programming, specifically with barbecue, is the people,” said Jeffrey W. Savell, Ph.D., vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We bring together people from different walks of life to experience and learn Texas barbecue. We see relationships forged in this classroom among people who would have never met except for this camp. It is inspirational to see the walls come down as everyone shares about their unique experience with barbecue.”
Meat science expertise craved across the world
Barbecue Summer Camp is one event among a handful of popular experiences that has been created by the meat science expertise homed within the Department of Animal Science at the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The Department of Animal Science is one of the largest and most complex departments teaching animal science in the nation. As such, it draws people from across the world to seek out the expertise of the faculty and students.
This type of program demonstrates how important food is to us as humans. We have a university dedicated to the study of animal husbandry, veterinary sciences, animal nutrition … I’m blown away by the animal science teachings at Texas A&M. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, to be honest, and I’m not saying that because you’re here.Hattem Mattar, 2022 Barbecue Summer Camp attendee from the United Arab Emirates
July 2022’s camp brought Hattem Mattar, the self-dubbed “first Arab pitmaster” and owner of several successful restaurants in Dubai, to Texas. According to longtime Barbecue Summer Camp supporter Bryan Bracewell ’98 of Southside Market and Barbecue, Mattar has made a culinary name for himself in the United Arab Emirates because he fuses Central Texas barbecue concepts with meats and spices local to the area.
“I tell people that barbecue belongs to everybody on the planet, no matter what country you come from. Every culture on the planet has a live-fire cuisine and fire is the most recognized smell in the world. Your brain is hardwired to recognize that smell for safety, for community, for food and for protection, so if you are Turkish in Argentina eating barbecue then you have a sense of nostalgia to home because of the live-fire element.”Hattem Mattar
“We were honored to have Hattem join us. He spoke about how food and barbecue can save the world, and his message was incredibly well-received by our attendees,” said Savell. “Every camp, we celebrate the diversity of our attendees and we listen to their individual experiences as they relate to barbecue because. By celebrating the diversity, we celebrate our similarities.”
A space for both barbecue experts and beginners
This camp session boasted a healthy amount of barbecue novices and beginners while attracting a wide range of barbecue veterans, from a Food Network competitor to professional chefs.
The attendees spent their time learning from the best of the industry, including listening to panels of pitmasters.
For more information on the annual camp, go to https://bbq.tamu.edu/barbecue-summer-camp/.