“I think California barbecue kind of becomes what California is,” says My Father’s Barbeque pitmaster Shalamar Lane. “A mixture of everybody.” She’s referring to her upbringing as the daughter of pitmasters from Alabama and Texas, and her experience fusing together barbecue traditions from both of those regions at her Carson, California restaurant.
“Barbecue is a male-dominated space, but not in my life,” she says. “I grew up cooking with my father, but also with his two sisters. We barbecued all the time while I was small, so that’s all I saw, I saw women barbecuing. So for me, it’s very very familiar.”
One of the star dishes familiar to her and her family, as well as the restaurant’s diners, is smoked pork rib tips. “In here you’ll find all of those spices that my father’s side of the family from Bessemer, Alabama use,” she says, shaking around one of two deep red spice tubs meant for coating the slab of meat. “But in here you’ll find that cracked black pepper that you get in Texas, and those large granules of salt.” By bringing the two together, and serving it all in California, she carries on family traditions and the barbecue styles of the South, while also making something entirely new.
Other specialties at the restaurant include smoked turkey legs with collard greens, wagyu beef brisket — which Lane injects with seasonings before slow cooking it for hours — and smoked pork spare ribs mopped down with both wet and dry rubs. While all of the dishes are based on family recipes, Lane often comes up with spice and seasoning combinations that are all her own, but “tested and approved by the family,” she assures.
“Barbecue is special because you build on it, it builds families,” Lane says as she cuts into her super tender brisket and plates her ribs. “People come together because of barbecue. There’s something special about it that touches everybody… when you really care about the food and you take the time and make the effort, it means something.”