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Next Stop… More Barbecue

Back on the Central-Texas Barbecue Trail, my next stop was the world-famous Franklin BBQ. A relative newcomer to the barbecue scene compared to the longstanding Salt Lick, Aaron Franklin opened up shop in 2009 in a parking lot in East Austin. It wasn’t long before it was being hailed as the best barbecue in central Texas, and as I’ve related in my other posts that’s really saying something!

So close to BBQ!

After talking about going all semester, a group of us MPAs decided to go on the Saturday before Thanksgiving since there was not a lot going on school-wise during that short week before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. In what was probably the worst weather we will experience here in Austin, we set out to Franklin at about 10:00am.

Upon arrival, we immediately recognized that our theory of “since the weather is so bad, there won’t be that many people waiting,” was not only shared by many others, but also was most definitely incorrect. Even with a temperature in the 30s with light rain sprinkling randomly, there was a line winding through the parking lot almost to the next block. A hostess came through the line to ask what we were going to order and she let us know that the estimated time of arrival at the front of the line was about 1:00pm.

I’m gonna eat that right there :)

If you make it to Franklin BBQ, make sure you bring friends because you won’t want to just order a sandwich. You can order by the pound, and after a three hour wait you would have wasted your time to only get a personal plate. There were six of us, so we ordered 4 pounds of brisket, 2 racks of pork ribs, and 1 pound of sausage.

I’m not sure if it was the wait or if I was just happy to be inside out of the horrible weather, but as we started to feast on the smorgasbord of barbecue, we all knew that it was worth it. The brisket was far superior to anything else I have tried in Texas, and the sausage was incredible. There were several options for sauce on the table, and they liberally handed out white sandwich bread that we could use as a vehicle for transporting the barbecue to our stomachs. All in all, Franklin BBQ did not disappoint even with the unusually long wait – if you’re in Austin, you’ll have to make time for Franklin in addition to Salt Lick!

Maybe You CAN Teach an Old Dog New BBQ

One thing about Austin I was anxious to check out was their world-famous Texas barbecue. Having grown up in West Tennessee near Memphis, I have been spoiled with great barbecue my entire life. Thus, most places I go outside that small area have disappointed me with their pathetic excuse for barbecue. For instance, I won’t even bother with barbecue in Nashville. Although the Carolinas are very proud of their ‘cue, it’s just not my style. I learned while living in New Orleans that they have a great food culture, but their heritage with barbecue is somewhat spotty. There was only one barbecue place there I would go to, called The Joint, but it was distinctly Memphis-style barbecue so maybe that’s why I enjoyed it. My goal with this series is not to join the debate about which region produces the best barbecue (Memphis will clearly win that one) but simply to find out if Texas barbecue is in the same league, whether as a rival or partner.

The differences between Memphis-style and Texas-style barbecue are many. Texas barbecue has its own style, and can even be classified differently depending on what part of the state you are in. For this series, I will be discussing Central Texas barbecue. The main difference I noticed initially is that Texas barbecue is mostly beef, while other Southeast US barbecues are typically pork. The pulled-pork sandwich is one of the main staples of Memphis barbecue, but it is less prevalent in the Texas style. The Central Texas style in particular is more focused on the quality of the meat and less emphasis on the sauce. This is a stark comparison to what I am used to, which is all about the sweet barbecue sauce.

I have heard a lot about some specific places to try out: Salt Lick, Franklin, La Barbecue, and Rudy’s to name a few. Hopefully I will be able to get to all of them while I am in Austin to make a proper judgment of Texas barbecue and  it will live up to my standards as everyone has assured me it will. The next article in this series will be about my first Texas barbecue experience, and it is sure to make your mouth water if this one hasn’t done the trick already.

Welcome back, Longhorns!

BevoWelcome back, everyone! If you are new to the MPA program this year- congratulations and I hope you are excited for an amazing year! I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and the transition back into the swing of things isn’t proving to be too difficult. My summer was a fun one, but I am glad to be back at McCombs.

Over the summer I was informed of some fantastic news about UT. The UT Austin ALPFA Chapter received the Student Chapter Award for the Central Region! ALPFA is largest Latino association for business professionals and students with chapters nationwide. Every year they chose a student chapter from each region and this year, it was UT! I am increasingly humbled and honored to be a part of this school when I learn about all of the accomplishments and accolades that UT is constantly bringing in.

Another tidbit of exciting news this summer was the selection of the winners for the 2012 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards. This year, two McCombs professors were honorable recipients, Anitesh Barua and Steven Kachelmeier. I had the opportunity to take an MPA class with Professor Kachelmeier last semester and it is great to see a familiar professor receive this award! In the article, Professor Kachelmeier is quoted regarding the importance of passion in a teaching role saying, “If a teacher is not passionate about the subject matter, one can hardly expect students to feel otherwise.” Passion about the subject is something that I really value in a professor and if you are new to McCombs this year, you can certainly expect to see passion for their subject is key to McCombs professors.

An interesting proposition for colleges:

The Economist published an article on April 9th concerning an idea of California college students that could possibly radically affect college students everywhere if it is taken into consideration by universities.

Students of the University of California propose that instead of charging tuition, they’d like universities to take 5% of their salary for the first twenty years following graduation.

This idea has some huge implications for higher education. An individual’s level and quality of education would no longer be determined by parental current income, but by a student’s future income, which would open more opportunities for them.

What particularly fascinates me about this article is the potential overhaul of universities’ organizational structure and culture. They would be the ones bearing the most risk under this proposal. With their income being contingent on their student’s job placement, universities have large incentives to become much more focused on placing their students in high paying career positions.

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And the Oscar goes to…

Accounting firms in the public eye

Did anyone else see the PwC partners walking the Academy’s votes down the red carpet at the Oscars? There are a lot of things in the popular media that are actually done by accounting firms. The accounting nerd in me was really excited to see “PricewaterhouseCoopers” on the screen of the Oscars. So of course I snapped a quick iPhone photo, as displayed on the left. This spun me into some web research (Googling) about accounting firms in popular culture and I want to share it with you all.

PwC has been in charge of counting the ballots for the Academy Awards for 78 years, and the accountants in charge actually know the winners 48 hours ahead of the public. But even crazier is that, for all eternity, these partners know who came in second place, and are sworn to secrecy- probably because sometimes, the runner-up misses the Oscar by one vote. In the 78 years of counting ballots, there has been no security issues, leaked winners or miscounts. On the day of the awards, the two partners in charge take separate routes to Kodak Theater, with LAPD officers in tow. They both hold identical briefcases with one whole set of the winning envelopes. Also, they MEMORIZE the winners in case something happens to these briefcases. At the show, they stand in the wings and hand the envelopes to the presenters before they walk on stage. Sounds like a job I would LOVE to have!

It is interesting to note that after all the accounting scandals in the early 2000s, when the world looked down on the accounting industry, there were critics who actually raised suspicions that PwC was not to be trusted with the counting of the Academy Awards ballots. Of course, as I stated before, PwC has always handled the task with the upmost professionalism and accuracy, however, this was a reflection of the times.

Other instances of public accounting firms in popular culture:

  • E&Y counts the ballots for the Golden Globes
  • KPMG sponsors professional golfer, Phil Mickelson
  • Deloitte Sponsors the U.S. Olympic Committee