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

See a breakdown of COVID-19 cases, vaccinations and more local data. (Community Impact staff)
COVID-19: See cases, vaccinations by ZIP code in Gilbert

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

Here are the coronavirus hospitalization data updates to know across Arizona. (Community Impact staff)
ADHS: ICU beds in use down to 148 April 11

See the latest COVID-19 hospitalization data.

Gilbert real estate data
Available homes on Gilbert market down sharply in February

Here is what you need to know about Gilbert's residential real estate market from February 2021.

Here are two salons that have opened or changed locations recently in Gilbert. (Courtesy Madison Reed)
Two salon changes to know in Gilbert

Here are two salons that have opened or changed locations recently in Gilbert.

Salt Tacos y Tequila, SanTan Village
Salt Tacos y Tequila to open at SanTan Village in 2021

The restaurant’s first location is in the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale.

Co-owners Jalon and Carolina Buckstead each have prior experience in restaurants. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gilbert's Rocky Point Seafood focuses on authenticity; Chandler USD selects interim leader and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Gilbert and Chandler areas.

Lindsay Road
Lindsay Road restrictions at Loop 202-Santan Freeway will last into 2022

Traffic on Lindsay Road will continue to be one lane each direction for the duration of the Lindsay Road traffic interchange project at the Loop 202-Santan Freeway.

The state-run vaccination site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, which has administered nearly 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, will relocate April 12 to Desert Financial Arena on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. (Courtesy Arizona Department of Health Services)
Phoenix Municipal Stadium vaccination site to move indoors to ASU's Desert Financial Arena

The state-run vaccination site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, which has administered nearly 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, will relocate April 12 to Desert Financial Arena on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus,

Maricopa County residents have received over 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, according to an April 7 update from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Nearly 40% of all Maricopa County adults have received at least one dose of vaccine

Maricopa County residents have received over 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, according to an April 7 update from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Jeff Gadd
Higley USD reviews $95 million bond proposal for fall

The Higley USD governing board reviewed at its April 7 meeting a district proposal to run a $95 million capital bond before voters in the fall.

The Chandler USD governing board announced April 7 Frank Narducci would succeed Camille Casteel as the district's superintendent beginning this summer. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Chandler USD governing board selects interim superintendent

The Chandler USD governing board announced April 7 Frank Narducci would succeed Camille Casteel as the district's superintendent beginning this summer.

Vaccine
Maricopa County residents have received more than 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses

Those doses have gone into the arms of 1.3 million residents representing nearly 40% of county residents over the age of 15, the county said.