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updated: 6/26/2012 8:28 AM

St. Charles barbecue brothers smokin' hot success

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  • The MBurs sign hangs in front of Matt and Marty Burton's custom barbecue trailer.

       The MBurs sign hangs in front of Matt and Marty Burton's custom barbecue trailer.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Brothers Marty and Matt Burton of St. Charles won the Best Barbecue in Kane County title at the St. Charles Riverfest. They have formed a company, MBurs, which does barbecue catering and competes in barbecue events throughout the Midwest.

       Brothers Marty and Matt Burton of St. Charles won the Best Barbecue in Kane County title at the St. Charles Riverfest. They have formed a company, MBurs, which does barbecue catering and competes in barbecue events throughout the Midwest.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Shown is some of the hardware from the recent barbecue contest.

       Shown is some of the hardware from the recent barbecue contest.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Brothers Marty, left, and Matt Burton of St. Charles won the Best Barbecue in Kane County title at the St. Charles Riverfest. The pair took first in ribs, second in brisket, fourth in pork, fifth in side dish and the Reserve Grand Champion for the Kansas City Barbecue Society. This was only the second time they had competed with their custom built barbecue/smoker.

       Brothers Marty, left, and Matt Burton of St. Charles won the Best Barbecue in Kane County title at the St. Charles Riverfest. The pair took first in ribs, second in brisket, fourth in pork, fifth in side dish and the Reserve Grand Champion for the Kansas City Barbecue Society. This was only the second time they had competed with their custom built barbecue/smoker.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • MBurs' ribs won first prize at the barbecue competition at Pride of the Fox RiverFest.

      MBurs' ribs won first prize at the barbecue competition at Pride of the Fox RiverFest.
    Courtesy of MBurs

  • Matt and Marty Burton of St. Charles describe MBurs' 18-hour brisket as "melt in your mouth amazing."

      Matt and Marty Burton of St. Charles describe MBurs' 18-hour brisket as "melt in your mouth amazing."
    Courtesy of MBurs

  • MBurs, which consists of Matthew and Marty Burton of St. Charles and "the guys," travels to barbecue competitions in the hopes of winning awards for its food.

      MBurs, which consists of Matthew and Marty Burton of St. Charles and "the guys," travels to barbecue competitions in the hopes of winning awards for its food.
    Courtesy of MBurs

 
By Hailey Czarnecki
hczarnecki@dailyherald.com

Start with perfectly marinated pork, mouthwatering and slow-cooked brisket.

Then add some flavorful ribs and a four-cheese macaroni with crushed cheese crackers toasted in cherry smoked bacon grease as the side dish to bring the award-winning meal together.

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Cooking a meal like this may seem like a lot of work. But this is just what these brothers do for fun.

And apparently, all that cooking pays off.

At the recent Pride of the Fox RiverFest in St. Charles, Matthew and Marty Burton competed in the Firin' Up the Fox Kansas City Barbecue Society contest and won the title of Best Barbecue in Kane County.

They also won first place in ribs, second in brisket, fourth in pork and fifth in side dish.

And if all those accomplishments weren't enough, they were awarded the Reserve Grand Champion, just 11 points behind the overall winner.

Yes, Matthew and Marty Burton are also professional chefs, but these competitions are what they call their hobby. Marty works with the Compass Group in Schaumburg and Matthew works with Corporate Chefs of North American.

Matthew said he started cooking when he was 13, "Both my brother and I, that's all we've ever done," Matthew Burton said.

The brothers grew up in St. Charles and graduated from what is now the east campus of St. Charles High School in '93 and '97. They moved on to fulfill their dreams at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the country.

The KCBS events have trained and certified judges who evaluate the submissions based on appearance, tenderness and taste. Appearance counts as 1/7th, tenderness as 2/7th and taste as 4/7th of the overall score.

Matt and Marty started competing six years ago.

"We love to barbecue," Matthew said.

He saw an event in a newspaper years ago and started attending the competitions to see how it worked. He said he used to go to the contests and just stare at the other chefs, too afraid to ask questions.

Finally, the team entered an event, and in their first two competitions, came in dead last in every category. But now, these men are big-time barbecuers.

Matthew said it all started with a small Weber grill and they slowly moved up the barbecuing line to their new $10,000 monster smoker now.

It weighs in at one ton, can hold 1,000 pounds of meat, has a rotisserie, a hot box and is controlled by two computers that change the heat and fire levels in two different chambers. Modestly speaking, it is a serious machine.

It was custom built and took three months to make by a Missouri company, Cadillac Cookers. The Burton boys designed it themselves to master the meats at every competition.

And it is an art form that needs mastering.

When the contests started taking off, Matthew became a certified KCBS judge to really learn the business. Marty plans on taking the course within the next year.

"You don't know what the judges want until you take that class," Matthew said.

Judges slowly pick at each type of meat, inspecting it for perfection. The brisket is pulled apart slowly enough so it stays together by just a thread of meat. Then they bite into the rib meat carefully and make sure it doesn't slide off the bone, otherwise it's overcooked. Then they poke at the pork with just the right amount of pressure to test its texture.

Tenderness is key and timing is everything, Matthew said.

There are two methods to barbecuing: slow and long or fast and high. These guys like their temperatures hotter and their speeds faster. Mathew said one of their secrets is only cooking for 8-10 hours with extreme heat.

They also are big with injections. Their brisket gets over a gallon of juicy flavor pumped into it. But most of the construction for the winnings comes before the event starts.

Matthew said they have been tasting different blends of spices for over two years. They had a fresh wood blend sent from Missouri to give each meat a distinct flavor.

"Got to have the time, got to love it," he advises.

And he and Marty certainly do. He said to be serious with this special type of art, details have to become priorities. "Spend the money, do it right, and eventually it will pay off."

They handpick vegetables and spices to throw into the fire to make each entry unique. And they only use 100 percent Angus prime meat for the brisket, which comes from an Aurora meat packing plant. The Burton brothers handpick and ensure each piece is aged to their liking.

The team has travel to Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana and, of course, Illinois to enter KCBS competitions every couple of months.

"The one thing that is consistent, is that everything is inconsistent," Matthew said.

The judges and their expectation always change, he says. Each one is an experience and gives them the chance to makes new friends. The same competitors travel to each one and it becomes a tight group of people enjoying the same hobby.

Matthew said, the events are just "a bunch of guys with fire and wood."

How could that not be fun?

They sleep outside, with no time for showers, cook all day, and eat anything that comes their way for hours. At an event like that, you have to get to know your neighbors, he said, but the food is great. The worst that could happen, is that you only go home with a delicious meal cooked exactly how you like it, he said.

This past competition has been their best results ever, Matthew admitted.

"We were very happy to be back in St. Charles."

He said he enjoyed being able to impress past football coaches, teachers and friends from their high school days. It was a good feeling to show everyone what we have to offer, he said.

Nothing can be more rewarding than being good at something you love. Matthew said his favorite category is the beef brisket.

"It is one of hardest yet most rewarding," he said.

"It is truly a passion.

"Taking a tough piece of meat that weighs 17 to 20 pounds and slowly cooking it just 'til the collagen and tough tissues loosen up and melt in your mouth."

He promises it tastes just like the best prime rib you have ever had, and listening to him talk can make a person's mouth water.

"It truly is culinary magic!"

Matthew said Marty loves the pulled pork. It takes a lot of love, care and time -- and of course the correct secret rub.

"(We use the) perfect balance of smoke, sweet and a bit of heat from chipotle. It is always amazing," Matthew said.

Want to taste for yourself? MBurs does catering. Or you can catch them at an upcoming event.

For details and menus, visit the website, mbursbbq.com.

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