Step Up Your Grill Game With Stateline Road BBQ Products From A Pedigreed Chef

Grilled steak and mushrooms get elevated with Stateline Road BBQ Truffle Sauce.
Grilled steak and mushrooms get elevated with Stateline Road BBQ Truffle Sauce.

When you get samples in the mail of new barbecue products from a chef who’s cooked at Michelin three-starred Alinea and rose to executive sous chef at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville, you know you’re in for something special.

Such was the case when I unboxed the goods from Chef Darryl Bell, Jr., whose Stateline Road BBQ products have already garnered a following. Bell started tinkering with his barbecue sauce while working at Bouchon, where he’d use it to spiff up staff meals, much to his co-workers’ delight. When he got up the nerve to let Keller try it, the renowned chef was so impressed that he put it on his menus served aboard Seabourn luxury cruise ships.

Bell, now chef de cuisine at Press in St. Helena, was born and raised in Kansas City, so he knows barbecue inside and out. In fact, Stateline Road BBQ is named for the major thoroughfare that divides Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KC, a region that’s a hotbed for some of the country’s best barbecue joints.

Stateline Road BBQ's line of products.
Stateline Road BBQ’s line of products.

You can purchase Stateline Road BBQ products on its web site. In spring 2022, though, it’ll be easier to get your hands on them when Northern California Whole Foods stores start carrying them.

The products are sold on Bell’s site individually or together in the Ultimate Grill Kit ($35), which includes a brining kit, dry rub, and a jar of the original 816 BBQ Sauce. (Those in the know will recognize “816” as the area code for Kansas City, MO).

The brining kit contents.
The brining kit contents.

The brining kit comes complete with a resealable bag to which you add the brining mix, three cups of water, plus whatever protein you like. I did chicken thighs and drumsticks. After refrigerating it all for 6 hours, I removed the chicken parts from the brine, then sprinkled on a copious amount of the 816 Dry Rub that’s sweet, smoky, peppery and onion-y. After grilling, I spooned over some of the 816 BBQ Sauce, a blend of tomato puree, whole grain mustard, mustard seeds, brown sugar, chipotle in adobo, garlic, onion, bay leaves, and even a touch of vanilla extract.

The chicken emerged moist as can be, with the sauce adding extra umami taste, sweetness, tang, and a hint of spiciness. It’s a sauce that definitely gets you salivating.

Stateline Road's original barbecue sauce is full of savory umami depth.
Stateline Road’s original barbecue sauce is full of savory umami depth.

Bell also makes a limited-edition Black Truffle Sauce ($15 for a 16-ounce jar). Hey, you can’t blame a fine-dining chef for injecting a little posh into down-home barbecue. You can smell the truffle the moment you unscrew the lid of the jar. It’s that really deep, musky fragrance, too, as Bell uses real-deal truffle — not the imitation stuff in truffle oil.

Intensely earthy tasting, with a lilt of spice, sweet and heat, this sauce is ideal on a proper steak or grilled, meaty mushrooms like the trumpets I used it on.

Bell tells people to think outside of the box when using the sauces, too. He’s used it slathered on everything from a simple ham sandwich to grilled veggie kebabs to a whole, salt-baked celery root roasted until meaty and tender.

They’re products that not only taste good, but do good, too. Twenty percent of proceeds from sales of his products is split and donated to two children’s nonprofits, No Kid Hungry and the Rafiki Foundation.

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