AUSTIN, Texas — Being a woman in barbecue isn’t easy, but these wives showed up and showed out to the men who doubted them.
As KVUE celebrates Pride Month, we skipped the long line for food and went straight to the heart of la Barbecue – LeAnn Mueller and Ali Clem.
Mueller, the owner and chef of la Barbecue, is no stranger to the barbecue world. Her father started Louie Mueller Barbecue, but she knew that her future had more in store than working for her father and alongside her brothers.
“I was like, ‘I’m not going to do this for the rest of my life.’ I decided to sell everything, work for a year there, then I moved to California,” Mueller said.
After pursuing a very successful career as a professional photographer, Mueller came back to Texas and met her partner in life and in business, Ali Clem. The pair worked together to blaze a trail in Texas barbecue.
“I threw Ali into this hell of a world that is barbecue. We helped my brother, John, out, who’s also famous in barbecue,” Mueller said.
Even though Mueller had to end up letting her brother go, the experience sparked the opening of la Barbecue. But it didn’t come with the warmest welcome.
“Because I had to let my brother go, we got so much backlash from mostly men. Threatening to burn our trailer down,” Mueller said.
“Set our dumpsters on fire, many more crazy things,” added Clem, la Barbecue's general manager. “But he had such a cult following that they kind of sided with him, and then we had to dig out of that to prove ourselves.”
Before they knew it, la Barbecue was a major hit! Austin went crazy for the restaurant's savory meats and globally-inspired sides. From Asian-inspired ribs, to a family recipe German potato salad, to caviar and a Pickletini, la Barbecue is authentically Austin.
“Just keep pushing forward. Always bring out the best of what you do and it will pay off,” Mueller said.
“Having this with my wife has allowed me to grow, and it’s been fantastic,” Clem said.
To learn more about their story or to visit la Barbecue, you can check out the restaurant's Instagram.
MORE KVUE PROFILES: