With the currently airing season of Bravo’s Top Chef filmed in Wisconsin, our state’s culinary scene is attracting worldwide attention on a whole new level. Featuring renowned restaurants to iconic Wisconsin emblems like cranberries, supper club relish trays, and fish boils – this season is all about celebrating Wisconsin’s unique flavor.

Join us as we highlight some of Janesville’s own culinary stars and how their one-of-a-kind experiences, unique style, and love for cooking are being infused into each and every dish.

Meet Lester Grace Jr. at Backyard Barbecue:

Lester’s passion for food and a love for creating mouthwatering dishes inspired him to start his own venture, turning his dreams into a reality, after getting his start in the restaurant industry at McDonald’s. Backyard Barbecue stands out not just for its authentic Texas-style smoked barbecue, but also for its homemade recipes and heartfelt cooking. Lester’s dedication to crafting each dish with love has earned him a loyal following.

With Texas roots and now a Janesville resident for the past 20 years, Lester’s commitment to his community and his craft is evident in every dish he serves. Whether it’s through catering, his food truck, or the storefront, Lester continues to delight customers with Texas-inspired barbecue that is truly “CERTIFIED DELICIOUS.”

1. What inspired you to start your own barbecue business?

Lester’s answer: I’ve always been a person with an entrepreneurial spirit so I’ve grown up always knowing I wanted to own my own business. I started working at McDonald’s and just being in the kitchen with the fast paced feel is what brought the love and the passion out for me. It’s when I knew I wanted to have my own business.

2. What sets your business apart from others and keeps customers coming back for more?

Lester’s answer: Not only is it the Texas-style smoked barbecue, it’s the homemade recipes and side dishes. Everything we do is made with love. It’s not just the barbecue. Everybody also loves our mac & cheese, barbecue nachos, and heavenly beans. And all these recipes come right from our family.

3. How has operating a food truck allowed you to connect with a broader audience in Janesville and beyond?

Lester’s answer: I am a very talkative person. My mom always said once I start talking, I don’t stop! People come to the trailer looking for good food, but what they also get is good conversation. I love meeting people, I love talking to people, and people love hearing our story. It’s just really brought us into the community in a new way!

4, As a chef, what makes you happiest?

Lester’s answer: Having my own kitchen to go to work in everyday! It’s not work – it’s a love, a passion, and what I want to do. Being able to get up every morning, go to my kitchen, and prepare food for people that I know will love it and trying to be consistent at it is what makes me happiest.

5. What’s on the horizon for Backyard Barbecue?

Lester’s answer: Right now, we’re growing and growing and growing. I don’t want to overgrow so right now, I just want to get everything organized. For Backyard Barbecue, the future holds getting even more organized so that we’re around for the next 20 years.

6. What’s your favorite dish on your menu to make?

Lester’s answer: I would have to say the smoked brisket! It’s why I started my business, I’m from Texas. At one time, I started looking around Wisconsin for some good barbecue. I could find a brat anywhere but I couldn’t find a good brisket sandwich. I turned that into a business and me smoking good brisket for 12 hours!

Get a sneak peek into the food trailer as we chat with Lester!

Address: 2517 Milton Avenue, Janesville, Wisconsin

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Date Posted | May 28, 2024