To say Terrance Duncan is a worldly man would be an understatement, but what else would you expect from a man that sells Texas style barbecue out of a yellow school bus, marked with the names and places of his customers from as far away as Germany and India, in Burns Lake.
Duncan was born in Burns Lake, but has only recently returned to the area after many years, and many miles away from the small community.
When he was young his parents died and Duncan and his sister, the youngest of the nine children were adopted by a family in Kelowna, it was there he grew up and graduated high school.
His other siblings, which include Herbie Duncan were raised in Burns Lake.
“I didn’t know I had a brother until I was in college, and since then I’ve been learning more and more about him, so it’s pretty cool,” Duncan said.
After high school, Duncan began to accumulate the miles.
He first lived in Calgary, where he owned a window cleaning company, then he moved to Dallas, Texas to go back to school, where he studied business, marketing and video and film production at the University of North Texas, he continued to live in Dallas before moving in succession to Connecticut, London, England, Paris, France, Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, back to Singapore, back to Connecticut, back to Dallas, where at that point, he got divorced and finally to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he was a captain of a United States Coast Guard boat for two years.
It was while going to school and living in Dallas that Duncan learned about southern style, and specifically, Texas style barbecue.
He went out to eat one night and had some brisket, which is a tough cut of beef from the neck of the cow and is what Texas barbecue is based off of, and loved it, when he asked how they made it he didn’t believe what the chef told him.
“I said tell me straight up how do you cook it, and they said we smoke it for 20 hours,” Duncan said, “they showed me one of their smokers, so I went out back and they have smokers the size of my bus with all these huge doors and shelves and at one corner would be the fire where the smoke comes up and loft up and goes out the chimney at the other end. They have hickory and mesquite logs and they have all these vents so they can keep it at the right temperature.”
The 20 hours of smoking is what separates Texas barbecue from the rest.
It is smoked using a hardwood, typically hickory or mesquite, and like all barbecue the meat is rubbed with a unique blend of spices.
Duncan says he has his own blend of spices, which he choses not to share.
He smokes brisket burgers, brisket, ribs and chicken breast out of his school bus, which he bought from his brother-in-law last year.
“I tore out all of the seats and started buying restaurant equipment, all the stainless steel fridges, the grills and flat tops. The windows are cover in stainless steel. I bought the leather interior here and the oak tables, and I installed it all myself pretty much. All that took five months to do,” Duncan said.
Duncan’s barbecue bus is a seasonal deal.
He begins operating it when the weather is warm enough that the pipes for his equipment won’t freeze, this year it was May 1, and runs it into the fall, usually around the end of September, beginning of October.
Ideally, he’ll be set up in the parking lot by Lakes District Printing, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., as well as catering events on the weekend in Burns Lake.
“I do rodeos, music festivals, mud bogs and I’m catering a big wedding for 420 people,” Duncan said.
He would like to do more of those events and is trying to get into contact with people that run the annual fall fair to try and set something up for that event.
“I want to cater the fall fair before I shut it down. I think that’ll be my last event before I shut it down,” Duncan said.
He nearly froze last winter, so this year he’s thinking about moving back down to Texas for the winter where he’ll be taking his skill for cooking Texas barbecue with him.