At the end of Yelm city limits to the west sits The Cattleman, a Louisiana-style southern barbecue restaurant where two men are preparing food based on recipes they learned from their mothers.
Owner Clark Sumner and his proclaimed “pit master” Reginald Christor are providing Yelm with an authentic, southern-style barbeque that is uncommon for the area. The duo make The Cattleman unique with their different backgrounds, providing customers with barbeque that will take them to the south.
The Cattleman was started by Sumner’s family after The Bunkhouse went out of business.
“We saw the opportunity and seven days later we were business owners,” Sumner said.
With background roots from South Carolina, Colorado and Wyoming, Sumner has made the Yelm area home for over six years.
Pit master Christor is from Shreveport, Louisiana, and moved to Yelm after being stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord during his 18-year career in the Army. During his time in the military, barbeque was a consistent topic of conversation between his friends and was where he was mentored in the art of using indirect heat to smoke meat.
Having met when Christor needed help from his neighbor Sumner, they formed an alliance to provide Yelm with the “best barbeque in a 60-mile radius.” Together, they have been working for more than one month to bring authentic Louisiana barbecue to the plate of customers.
Every detail is considered; the ingredients in the rub, the type of wood they burn to keeping track of the exact temperature of the meat from the time it leaves the fridge to the time it is served on a customer’s plate.
Ingredients for the rub used are kept secret from the public.
“We want people to come in and enjoy it here,” Christor said. “If we gave out the recipe, you could just go home and make it. That’s 20 years of hard work. You can’t give that away for free.”
The rub might be kept secret but the wood they use is not. Alder is the wood of choice by the duo because it is dense and therefore creates more smoke.
“You have to smoke it through and through,” Christor said.
He chooses to burn alder over another popular smoking wood, applewood, because the Louisiana-style barbecue provides more kick than it does sweetness.
“Applewood is too sweet,” he said.
Perhaps the most important detail when cooking meat is the temperature. The smoker runs between 200-250 degrees and the meat is pulled off after six hours, reaching 150 degrees. When the meat is pulled, it immediately goes into a vacuum-sealed bag where it is stored in a hot hold at 141 degrees. When the meat is removed from the hot hold, it goes onto direct heat for approximately one minute to create a glaze.
Serving authentic barbeque and making profit is not the only part of The Cattleman’s business model. They are showing their support of the community members by donating 100 percent of their profits to the Reichel family. Stacey Reichel worked for The Cattleman in the past.
Walter Reichel was injured in a tree falling incident on his Yelm property June 2. The accident resulted in a fractured sternum, nine fractured ribs, a broken pelvis and expensive medical bills.
To help the Reichel family, owner Clark Sumner will host the fundraiser at The Cattleman noon to 9 p.m. June 30. Along with donating proceeds, there will be a donation jar, raffle and silent auction to help benefit the Reichel family.