Matt Horn, Pitmaster is an independent craftsman. The Californian native spends most of his time smoking West Coast-style barbecue and perfecting it. Horn is a respected authority in this region of barbecue. His Horn Barbecue restaurant in Oakland was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand. He has also been named as one of Food & Wine’s Top New Chefs.

Horn is now the author of Horn Barbecue, Recipes and Techniques From a Master in the Art of Barbecue,documenting each glorious aspect of his unique style. This book is testimony to Horn’s love for barbecue and a way of living that transcends the fames.

Horn stated, “I wanted to do one thing that was not driven by money. I just wanted something that touched me soul. Something that truly moved me.”

West Coast Style Barbecue

Pitmaster Matt Horn

The South and Texas are the most popular regions for American barbecue. However, West Coast barbecue is frequently overlooked. The West Coast isn’t part of the Southern American tradition, but it has its own unique style. Tri-tip is a Californian specialty. It’s a slice of beef taken from the lower “tip” portion of the sirloin. This distinctive cut, which is rare in California, can be prepared whole and then sliced thin.

Horn’s barbecue operation is also influenced by West Coast barbecuing because of its cultural diversity. Horn grew up in California’s Central Valley, and now runs a multi-cultural restaurant in Oakland. He draws inspiration from California’s many cuisines and cultures. Horn is a big fan of barbecue, but his techniques for barbecue are often inspired by the American South. Horn also uses spices and other flavors that don’t fit the standard vocabulary, which captures the essence of Northern California.

Horn believes that West Coast barbecue is unique because of its versatility. West Coast barbecue doesn’t have to conform to any particular style or region. Horn is able to cook whole-hog barbecue in Carolinas and tri-tip in Northern California, while also creating innovative dishes such as smoked oxtails and whole rabbit.

Horn Barbecue Cookbook

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Horn created a book to document West Coast barbecue. It was an exhausting process that involved long hours spent tasting and testing recipes. The results of all that hard work are evident in the book. This cookbook, which Horn provides expert advice and detailed instructions, is the ultimate barbecue book. Horn offers his take on side dishes, sauces and desserts in this cookbook, which includes barbecue favorites like whole hog and brisket.

The cookbook is a tribute to West Coast barbecue and features some unique recipes that go beyond the norm of American barbecue. Surprised to find that Horn loves to cook smoked whole duck. This is something more commonly found in Chinese BBQ than it is in the American South. This is just one example of Horn’s passion for barbecue.

Horn said, “I see it (barbecue), as an empty canvas that can be used for art. It’s like a painting.” It’s beautiful to be able to transform raw meat into beautiful, memorable food.

Smoked Tri-Tip

The Tri-tip steak is a popular cut of steak that was first introduced in Santa Maria-style pits more than 70 year ago. It is a delicious, tender and flavorful steak perfect for family meals.

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

Total time: 25 minutes plus 20 minutes for rest

Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 Tablespoons coarse kosher Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leafs
  • 1 (3-5 pounds) tri-tip steak
  • Olive oil to cook the steak


  1. Pre-heat the smoker to 300°F. You must ensure that the fire is clean and oxygen rich.
  2. Mix together salt, pepper and onion powder in a bowl until combined.
  3. Remove any excess fat from the tri tip. Use olive oil to rub the meat and then evenly spread the rub all over.
  4. The tri-tip should be placed in the smoker. Smoke for between 20 and 25 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Check it frequently. After the meat is done smoking, take it out of the smoker and wrap in aluminum foil. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
  5. To serve, unwrap the meat.

Burn Barrel Chicken

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Although grilled chicken makes a great family meal, the marinade used in this recipe gives it a glaze that is worthy of being served at upscale restaurants. Brown sugar accelerates caramelization, and enhances the final flavor.

Prep time: 10 minutes plus 20 minutes for marinating

Time Total: 42 minutes

Serve 4. Yield


  • Three tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • Salt kosher
  • Black pepper freshly ground
  • Four boneless, skin-on chicken breasts
  • For garnish, chop fresh parsley


  1. Mix the olive oil with brown sugar, garlic and thyme in a large bowl. Season the mixture generously with salt, pepper, and mix well. Keep 1/4 cup of marinade aside.
  2. Toss the chicken thighs into the bowl. Allow the chicken to rest for 20-30 minutes or up to an overnight.
  3. Pre-heat the grill to medium high
  4. Grill the chicken for 6 minutes, turning once.
  5. Before serving, garnish with parsley.



Horn is an independent craftsman who makes West Coast Barbecue, he’s a respected authority in this region and has been named as one of Food & Wine’s Top New Chefs. West Coast Style Barbecue isn’t popular but the book Horn wrote on barbecue that he released after spending long hours tasting


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