This Fort Worth BBQ Joint Just Set a Guinness World Record
“Give us a challenge, and we’re going to take it.”
If you’ve stepped outdoors in the last month, you know that it’s far too hot to stay outdoors. That’s why humans invented air conditioning. But a trio of Fort Worth pitmasters recently threw caution to the wind (or in this case, sun) and grilled their way to a new Guinness World Record.
From July 13 to 15 — yes, this covered parts of three days — Chris Magallanes, Ernest Morales and Mark Montemayor set out to break the previous world record for “Longest BBQ Marathon (Team),” which stood at 40 hours and 53 seconds and was accomplished by an Italian team in 2017. The trio was victorious, cooking meat and vegetables for an incredible 40 hours, 49 minutes and 17 seconds — and they did it all in weather that topped 100 degrees in the shade.
The record-breaking effort was hosted by Texas Monthly and Travel Texas. They enlisted the guys at Panther City BBQ, which currently sits at number 10 in Texas Monthly’s ranking of the 50 best BBQ joints, in part because the founders had experience in competition cooking.
“We have a background working long hours,” explains Magallanes, who used to work in the audio-visual industry along with Morales. They would put in full-time hours at their day jobs during the week, then spend their weekends at barbecue competitions, only sleeping a few hours each night. “When it came time to open Panther City, we still worked our jobs during the week and then spent weekends at the restaurant doing 16-hour cooks,” he says.
So, they liked their chances. “Give us a challenge, and we’re going to take it,” says Magallanes.
He and Morales opened Panther City in 2018, starting as a food truck before moving to a permanent location in Fort Worth’s Near Southside neighborhood. The restaurant is prized for its brisket, house-made sausages and pork belly jalapeño poppers, with meats cooked low-and-slow over post oak wood. But the Guinness competition was more grilling than barbecuing, with rules stating that contenders must have five different items cooking between three grills at all times.
The record-breaking attempt began on July 13 at 8 p.m., which meant the team had already been up most of the day working at Panther City. The evening start was meant to ensure cooler temperatures as the guys cooked into the night, but this being Texas — and Texas being stubbornly hot — the thermometer read 103 degrees as they got to work.
“We’re used to cooking in the heat,” says Magallanes. “Our pit room gets to be 100-plus during the day, but you can always take a break, go inside, eat, drink and hang out in A/C for a while.” Per the contest’s rules, they were allowed occasional five-minute breaks, but the three grills were in constant operation, which meant sleep was not an option.
Magallanes, Morales and Montemayor grilled burgers, beef fajitas, beef short ribs, onions and bell peppers for the next almost-41 hours. All the food cooked during this multi-day marathon was donated to Fort Worth’s frontline workers, charities and hospitals.
Rather than sampling their own supply, the guys ate cold sandwiches and leaned on hydrating fruits like grapes and oranges, plus lots of water and some Gatorade. Leading up to the day, Magallanes says he carb-loaded with pasta to ensure he’d have enough energy to get through the cook.
We can’t recommend anyone try to best this accomplishment — though, if you’re really serious, records are made to be broken. But certain situations do dictate lengthy cooking sessions, like coaxing a brisket to perfection over 16 hours in the smoker. In that case, Magallanes offers a few tips to ensure success.
For starters, try to relax and be patient. Keep snacks and healthy drinks nearby and ready to go, so your focus isn’t pulled away from the meat. “When we did competition barbecue, we’d drink [alcohol] along with it. But during this, we’d never have survived. Don’t crack open that beer until the cook’s almost over,” he says.
After earning the Guinness World Record, the team celebrated with Champagne and beer. Then after some rest, they got back to work at Panther City.
“We’re just really happy the record is back in Texas,” says Magallanes.
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