Cambro Featured Business of the Week

Business of the Week: Heritage Barbecue

Heritage Barbecue opened their first brick and mortar location on August 8, 2020, and just two months later they were named Orange’s County’s hottest new restaurant by The Orange County Register. Equipped with two 1,000-gallon authentic Texas-style offset smokers and one 500-gallon smoker on a trailer, Heritage Barbecue is able to produce upwards of 800 lbs. of protein a day. Daniel Castillo, Owner and Pitmaster of Heritage Barbecue, explains how they got their start and how they make their barbecue so good that they sell out every day:

How did Heritage Barbecue get its start?

“We started our own business because when we’d have backyard parties, like a lot of people start out, we would barbecue for people who were going to a party…and their friends liked it and asked where they got it from. My wife said that we should start a catering company.

We got in contact with a few friends of ours who own breweries here in Orange County that we frequent because I like beer. We worked with them and the health department to be able to cater at the breweries. At that time [in 2017], they just started to allow breweries to have caterers come in. We were the first one in Orange County.”

Why did you choose Texas-style barbecue?

“One of my aunts moved to Dallas/Fort Worth area. I’d go out to go visit her and she’d take us to eat barbecue. California isn’t really known for barbecue. I just took that and ran with it and got really excited about it and started saving money to go on trips on my own or with my wife. We’d go eat BBQ at different places and it just kind of became an obsession to go to different places all around Texas.

One particular trip, I actually asked somebody if I could come back in a couple months and work with them. I worked at a couple places at different times and honed my craft, learned the trade and then brought it back home and upped my game here.”

What’s different about Heritage Barbecue?

“I honestly tried to do other things in the past when it came to food and it’s just such a niche market because it’s something that nobody is doing. For us, opening this restaurant meant that we had to do it as authentic as possible, which is not something that has been done here, as far as having the offset smokers that they have in Texas, which was really important to us. We took a big gamble opening this restaurant without knowing if we were going to be able to approve [the offset smokers] in the first place.”

Why was it a challenge to get offset smokers approved?

“The big deal is that custom-made smokers usually have to go through a process where they’re commercially made, and commercially made smokers go through inspections with ANSI and NSF certification where they have to comply with specific things. It’s a really complicated process and there’s been a few people that came here from Texas to try to do it and they couldn’t figure it out, they just went back home. I’ve been a guy who doesn’t really take no for an answer. It really boiled down to working with my welder/pit builder and working with engineers and a lot of money to be able to pull that off.”

What kind of difference does an offset smoker make?

“[The smoker] is 100 percent wood, there’s no type of electricity, there’s no rotisseries going on, there’s no gas assisted, so it really takes somebody who operates the smoker to be skillful and be able to know what to look for, even as far as the changes of weather. The way that these offsets work, there’s a fire burning on one side and there’s a stack on the other side. There’s a convection that happens when the draw of the smoker gets pulled through the atmosphere. It creates a convection inside the smoker that crossing over the top of the briskets or any type of protein creates a bark and it’s a bark that you really can’t get or a flavor you can’t get using a commercial smoker.”

Why did you choose to open your first brick and mortar location in San Juan Capistrano?

“We were drawn to the area because of San Juan already having a reputation of kind of an equestrian, cowboy kind of town. We thought it fit our vibe. It’s really similar, especially with The Mission, you have this Spanish, almost San Antonio feel to it too. We modeled this place around that Austin vibe with open air, string lights and everything being 100 percent outdoors.”

Links for Heritage Barbecue

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