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Chef Ray's BBQ Stand

Chef Ray

A smoking barbecue trailer was drawing a crowd to a convenience store parking lot in north Houston. It was Friday evening around six and people were ready to party. Some of the customers hung around and joked with the guys passing out the rib and sausage plates. One guy sipped a beer and joined in the conversation from the open driver’s side window without getting out of his car.

I walked over to the smoker with my camera and wallet out. “How much is a rib plate,” I asked. Wrong question. It’s not legal to set up a barbecue smoker on the side of the road and charge money.

“I’ll make you a plate and you can give me a donation,” the guy doing the cooking said. When I asked the guy his name and raised my camera, he handed me my food, took my money and told me to go away. I kept trying to make a joke out of the whole thing. Finally two large friends of the barbecue man walked over and said, “You best leave now.” The ribs were sensational. But sorry, if I told you where to find him, he and his friends would have to kill me.

“If you want to take pictures, drive over to the next light and take pictures of Chef Ray–he won’t care,” the barbecue man said pointing east down Pinemont Street.

Pinemont and N. Shepherd

Chef Ray Latson was cooking on an elaborate trailer with a roof at Shepherd and Pinemont. Sadly, all of his brisket was gone when I got there. All I got to taste were some crispy rib tips. “They call me Chef Ray, I cook in the Astros clubhouse,” Latson told me. “I barbecue for the sport of it. I come out here on Friday and Saturday at 9 am, and serve until I run out.”

A guy walked up to the smoker and waved some money around. “If want to make a contribution to the church, I am happy to take your money and pass it along,” Ray said pointing at the structure across the street. “I only have one plate of barbecue left, but I also have some of my mom’s tea cakes.”

East Texas tea cakes are oversize cookies made with butter and vanilla, but not a lot of sugar. I guess you are supposed to serve them with tea, but at my house they are eaten for breakfast with coffee.

I asked Chef Ray if he was going to be out on the corner of Pinemont and Shepherd cooking barbecue this Friday and Saturday. “I’ll be there if it ain’t raining,” he said.

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