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Smokin' Okie brings championship BBQ to Coach's in Oklahoma City's Bricktown

Pitmaster Russ Garrett's influence leads to a quantum leap in Coach's reputation. The restaurant is in Oklahoma City's Bricktown
by Dave Cathey Modified: June 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm •  Published: June 5, 2012

Folks often ask me where to find the best barbecue in town. The usual answer I give is, “There's a lot of good places, but I'm still looking for the best.”

The looking is over. Coach's in Bricktown, 20 S Mickey Mantle Drive, is now home to my favorite barbecue. Yes, that Coach's. Believe it.

Last summer, Buck Warfield, president of the Enduring Brands group of restaurants, was looking for a game-changer for the Coach's concept, longing to establish Coach's as the center of Oklahoma barbecue.

Enter Russ Garrett, a highly decorated competitive pitmaster who goes by the moniker Smokin' Okie. Garrett catered a company get-together for Warfield and was hired on the spot to consult on Coach's barbecue redux.

Enter the Coach's in Bricktown today, and you'll find it's now a shrine to the Smokin' Okie — not to be confused with the catering company out of Edmond.

Garrett spent months training the kitchen staff on his championship barbecue philosophy, meaning premium meats, real wood, bold rubs, temperature control and proper cooking time.

“I don't like the meat to slide off the bone,” he said. “For me, that's a sign it's overcooked. In my competition days, and what I try to educate the staff on, I wanted the meat to pull free, not fall apart.”

The effortless perfection of the pork ribs tells the story of a guy driven by relentless passion for barbecue knowledge, beginning at his father's side in the late 1960s, continuing to competition and to spreading the gospel from a smoker as an instructor for Francis Tuttle CareerTech.

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by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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