A spotlight into Roots N Blues N BBQ food vendors

Take an inside look into local Columbia-area food vendors from Roots N Blues N BBQ. The three featured vendors include wood-fired pizza, gourmet sandwiches and Kansas City-style barbeque.

Roots N Blues N BBQ is an annual music festival in Columbia that, like its name, has roots, blues and a lot of food. The festival’s food vendors offered a wide-range of cuisines. Despite “BBQ” being in the name of the festival, there were many more options than solely barbeque. Here are three of the many food vendors that were present at Roots N Blues.

Amongst the constant music and masses of people constantly blowing dust and dirt, there were food trucks filled with rich history, passion and delicious food.

Manzo’s Wood-Fired Pizza

Manzo’s Wood-Fired Pizza is what it sounds like: a food truck that serves made-to-order Napoli-style pizza. Manzo’s is owned by Aaron Jurgensmeyer and Aaron Saeler. The story for the restaurant’s name: “Manzo’s” comes from Aaron Jurgensmeyer’s nickname “Beef,” and in Italian, manzo means beef. Manzo’s pizza is created with experienced craftsmanship and is always made to order.

Once an order was placed, Chef Saeler would go to work. He removed their homemade pizza dough from its saran wrap, dipped it in flour — essential for Napoli-style pizza — and stretched the dough by tossing it in the air like a classic, television representation of a guy making pizza. Within a minute or two, Manzo had already stretched out the dough into a 12-inch non-geometric circle, spread the sauce and added cheese straight from Italy. Aaron explained that they use Italian cheese because the Italians have been making pizza for so long that “We should just trust how they do it.”

After he created the pizza, he took the pizza peel and slid it into their 900-degree, wood-burning Di Fiore Forni oven, also imported from Italy. Within minutes, the pizza was scorching hot, the cheese was literally bubbling and it was ready to be served.

Grill-A-Brothers

Grill-A-Brothers, a Columbia-native sandwich truck, can do something with their sandwiches that few other sandwich shops do — leave the eater with semi-floury hands after eating their sandwich. Good bread is one of the paramount features of a sandwich, and Grill-A-Brothers hits the nail on the head, literally.

Grill-A-Brother’s theme of “made-from-scratch” is essential to the story of the vendor. Owners Daniel Thorne and Patrick Dierkes both have a passion for construction and food. They created the food truck from scratch, and that theme vividly translates to their food.

On Sept. 29, Paul Meyer was Grill-A-Brothers’ primary cook. As well as his 42 year career in cooking, he has worked 27 years and counting in construction, a perfect fit for the “Grill-A-Brothers” team. He regularly helps out the team, providing a very gracious quality of humor and passion behind the grill. In between rushes, he explained that not many things can beat the pure adrenaline of looking up over the grill and seeing endless meal tickets. The adrenaline of the tight food truck isn’t for everyone but for the few that do it, the rush is very rewarding.

“To see those faces makes it all worth it,” Meyer said. “All the blood, sweat and tears… it’s all worth it.”

Grill-A-Brothers is a badass, gorilla-themed food truck filled with construction workers. But behind the food is a humble story of passion and kind-hearted people spreading love through “the best damn sandwiches in Columbia, Missouri,” according to the Grill-A-Brothers website.

Big Daddy’s BBQ

Big Daddy’s BBQ is a local barbeque restaurant that serves meals that will leave you emotionally fulfilled. Owned by Lloyd and Fontella Henry, they bring Kansas City-style barbeque to the streets of Columbia. Good barbeque is more than just cooking meat — it's a fine form of food that is forged over generations of knowledge, craftsmanship and experience. Big Daddy’s BBQ is no exception.

Clint Walker, head cook, is quite the expert in his craft. With a strong family history in barbeque, he knows how to brine certain meats, how long to let the meat smoke and how to separate Big Daddy’s BBQ from other restaurants in the competitive market for good quality meat. Clint’s favorite dish off the menu is the 24-hour brined, slow-cooked turkey leg. He claims that it is the best, and possibly only high-quality turkey leg, in Columbia.

Some of their most popular items are the Kansas City-style ribs and their brisket. Clint emphasized that too many barbeque restaurants cook their brisket for too long, which simply dries out the meat. The brisket at Big Daddy’s BBQ is served sandwich style and melts in one’s mouth like a stick of butter in a blazing hot pan. In addition, Lloyd’s tomato-based barbecue sauce adds the sweet tang of Kansas City that we all die for to the brisket’s smoky flavor, plus a lingering bit of spice -- only Lloyd knows what the secret spice is.

Numerous food vendors at the festival claimed that Big Daddy’s BBQ is phenomenal, including Saeler from Manzo’s Pizza. He mentioned that it could be the best BBQ in Columbia. Big Daddy’s BBQ is located at 1205 N. Garth Ave. and is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp | asharp@themaneater.com

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