Arizona BBQ Company pit master uses his training in French cuisine to make his own creations

Mark Nichols [fourth from left] and his staff take great pride in service and quality food at Arizona BBQ Company.

Mark Nichols [fourth from left] and his staff take great pride in service and quality food at Arizona BBQ Company.

Image description
Arizona BBQ Company
Image description
Arizona BBQ Company

Mark Nichols has a different take on the traditional barbecue process.


First, he’s not getting up before the sun with the other pit masters, and second, Nichols is finishing the smoked meats off in a mirepoix-based braise—chopped carrots, celery and onion.


At the Arizona BBQ Company, American staples meet Le Cordon Bleu technique.


“That’s the French classic cuisine I was trained in,” said Nichols, a Gilbert resident who attended the famed school, about his process. “Smoke only penetrates the meat up to 140-170 degrees, and then you are just slow-cooking. So stop after six hours, hit that mark, put it on a bed of mirepoix, [and] seal it up so it really holds the moisture in and breaks down the fat.


“It’s just blending cuisines and cooking styles.”


Nichols’ style is one that would probably make most barbecue purists shake their heads. The meat is traditionally smoked slow and low for 15 hours. Putting it on a bed of chopped carrots, celery and onions is unheard of.


The returning patrons certainly are not mad with the result or the portions brought out to the rustic dining area. As Arizona BBQ starts its third year—it opened Sept. 20, 2017—the product continues to evolve.


The meat, especially the brisket, has a different, softer texture than meat cooked for upwards of 20 hours, Nichols said.


“When you aren’t cooking it for 14 to, sometimes, 20 hours, depending on the size of the brisket, it’s a more moist style of cooking,” said Nichols, whose wife, Collette, takes care of the administrative side of things.


That style has created a loyal customer base through word-of-mouth, Nichols said. The restaurant has barbecue staples plus Nichols’ creations.


The business has held its own despite about 20 new restaurants opening within 3 miles of the location. That has not stopped the success that has come in a short time.


Nichols worked as a corporate chef and then had a catering business that started in 2010. He has found the move to a concrete location, where he can still cater out of the back and serve quality barbecue in the front, has worked out well.


“We are expecting a pretty big year three,” Nichols said. “The brisket and ribs are the key components to our success. The Pig Mac gets a ‘wow’ factor, and so [do] the portions. If you go away hungry from here, there’s something wrong.”


Arizona BBQ Company
1534 E. Ray Road, Ste. 110, Gilbert
480-361-4180
https://azbbqcompany.com
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.,Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Sun.




MOST RECENT

On Jan. 13, the Chandler USD governing board voted 3-2, with Lara Bruner and Lindsay Love dissenting, to resume in-person instruction for all grade levels Jan. 19 after a imposing virtual learning for two weeks. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Chandler Education Association: Some teachers, parents feel 'ignored' after board decides to resume in-person learning

The Chandler Education Association released a statement imploring the district to return to virtual learning.

Town of Gilbert mural
Gilbert looks to fill openings on two more boards

The town of Gilbert has announced it is looking for applicants to fill openings on two town boards and commissions.

Kung Pow Restaurant
Panda Libre in Gilbert changes name to Kung Pow Restaurant

The restaurant now serves Chinese food, and the majority of its menu has been revamped.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is expanding who can get COVID-19 vaccinations in Arizona. (Courtesy Baylor College of Medicine)
More COVID-19 vaccination appointments available Jan. 19; plus, see where you can get your COVID-19 vaccination in Maricopa County

The Arizona Department of Health Services is expanding who can get COVID-19 vaccinations in Arizona.

Here is what you need to know today about coronavirus in Gilbert. (Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19: Gilbert cases increase by 226 Jan. 19

Here are the COVID-19 data updates to know today.

Here are the coronavirus hospitalization data updates to know across Arizona. (Community Impact staff)
Number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 surpasses 4,700

Take a look at the hospitalization data across Arizona.

The location's decor will pay homage to the town's history as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World." (Courtesy Cracker Barrel Old Country Store)
Cracker Barrel coming to Gilbert; wine bar set for Chandler and more top Phoenix-area news

Read the most popular news from the past week in Chandler and Gilbert.

Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services announced Jan. 14 the launch of a second vaccination site after the success of the state's first 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. The second location will be at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Arizona to add second vaccination center after successes at State Farm Stadium in Glendale

Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services announced Jan. 14 the launch of a second vaccination site after the success of the state's first 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. The second location will be at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Here is a look at the latest COVID-19 updates from Chandler USD. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Chandler USD to return to in-person learning Jan. 19

The Chandler USD governing board voted for students to return to campuses Jan. 19.

Gilbert Town Council inauguration
Brigette Peterson sworn in as Gilbert mayor with council members Scott Anderson, Kathy Tilque

Brigette Peterson was sworn in as the 33rd mayor of Gilbert on Jan. 12, ending a nearly yearlong shuffling of the Town Council

Cracker Barrel Old County Store
Cracker Barrel sets Feb. 8 opening date in Gilbert

The location's decor will pay homage to the town's history as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World."

Here is what you need to know today about coronavirus in Gilbert. (Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19: Gilbert cases increase by 295 Jan. 14

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 22,346 COVID-19 cases overall in Gilbert's six ZIP codes Jan. 14. That is an increase of 295 from the previous day and a 12.44% increase in the past seven days.