Jimmy Ho knows ‘cue. The barbecue influencer dazzles his over 61K followers not only with his favorite meat meccas around the state, but he has also been showcasing his own smoking and searing skills on his Instagram account @thesmokingho since 2013. The Supervisor at Progressive Insurance even recently contributed to Texas Monthly’s best barbecue issue, which named the top 50 BBQ destinations in the Lone Star State. The avid runner — which was actually the first hobby Ho started profiling on Instagram — recently completed an eight-day Carolina barbecue tour, further expanding his BBQ repertoire.
How did you get interested in your Instagram niche?
“It’s kind of a long story. I was a bit heavier and wanted to lose weight. So I started to run. Never ran in my life. Finally got up to three miles and have been hooked ever since. I was training with Rogue Running for a marathon, and they asked if I wanted to be a guest blogger on my training experience — I said sure. At the same time, we moved out to Kyle, so I went to Lockhart a lot. We started to do BBQ runs, and my friends encouraged me to blog about it because I actually enjoyed writing. And now here we are. Take that, eighth grade English teacher!”
How do you feel about being considered an influencer?
“I hate the term. I am just a dude with a camera who loves BBQ. I hope my followers can feel my passion for it through the captions and photos.”
How has Instagram changed for you during the pandemic?
“I actually spend a lot less [time] on it. Before March 2020, I would spend easily four hours on it every day. Now? About an hour or so a day. It’s funny though because this year has been the busiest I have ever been. Got any recs on accountants?”
What do you wish your followers knew about you that they don’t already?
“I’m an introvert, so inviting me to lunch is kind of uncomfortable for me.”
What goes into getting the perfect shot for you?
“Color and lighting. Everything needs to be bright enough, and the color needs to pop and stand out. I think I have a good eye.”
Favorite Austin spots?
“LeRoy & Lewis, Valentina’s, Franklin, Via 313, Home Slice, Veracruz, Sway, Pho Dan, Red Ash, Ramen Tatsuya and Odd Duck.”
Favorite “secret” Texas BBQ spot?
“Rollin Smoke on E. Sixth Street. It’s in an unassuming truck lost among the condos. It flies under the radar quite often, so it’s sort of a hidden gem. They’re slinging top notch ‘cue with a lot of variety like crispy barbacoa and carnitas tacos, pork belly burnt ends and burritos.”
How do you balance your diet with eating so much meat?
“Running at least four days a week and a lot of salads and smoothies during the weekdays. But I don’t get in trouble with the meat. It’s the sides and desserts that get me!”
What’s on your barbecue bucket list?
“Probably doing a Kansas City BBQ tour. That’s one region I need to sample from.”