San Diego's Next Big Thing Series: Paul's BBQ May Make The City's Best Barbecue Brisket

May 19, 2024

In the first edition of SanDiegoVille's new series dubbed "San Diego's Next Big Thing," we spotlight Paul's BBQ, which may make the best barbecue brisket in town.

In the vibrant tapestry of San Diego's bustling cityscape lies a multitude of small businesses, each with its own unique story waiting to unfold. From cozy cafes tucked away in historic neighborhoods to innovative startups challenging the status quo, these enterprises are the heartbeat of our community, driving creativity, passion, and innovation.

At SanDiegoVille we believe in championing the underdogs, shining a spotlight on the rising stars that are poised to become tomorrow's household names. Hence, we are thrilled to introduce our newest series, "San Diego's Next Big Thing." Through this series, we embark on a journey to discover and celebrate the hidden gems and burgeoning talents that make San Diego's entrepreneurial landscape so exciting. From visionary entrepreneurs with bold ideas to culinary artisans  each installment will showcase the ingenuity and determination that define the spirit of our city.

Welcome to "San Diego's Next Big Thing" — where small beginnings spark extraordinary journeys. Our first featured business is Paul's BBQ out of San Diego's East County community of Spring Valley. 
In the world of barbecue, mastery isn't just about smoke and meat; it's a journey of passion, resilience, and a relentless pursuit of perfection. Paul Jamma, the founder of Paul's BBQ, embodies this ethos, turning his culinary dreams into reality through a remarkable odyssey spanning from convenience store counters to pitmaster pits.

Seven years ago, Paul's trajectory took an unexpected turn when he and his brother decided to part ways with their convenience store. Fueled by a burning desire to explore his culinary passions, Paul enrolled in culinary school at Grossmont College. However, fate had a different course in mind for him. A chance encounter with Chef Colton Lemmer of Union Kitchen and Tap in Gaslamp sparked a conversation about barbecue, leading to an offer that changed Paul's trajectory forever.
"I accepted a job offer from Chef Colton of Union Kitchen and realized that I was paying school to teach me how to cook when I could be getting payed to learn, so I dropped out and started working," explained Jamma. 

Diving headfirst into the world of professional cooking despite lacking prior experience, Paul found himself at Union Kitchen & Tap in downtown San Diego, where he honed his skills in high-volume cooking. Yet, he yearned for a deeper culinary experience, a longing fulfilled when his cousin Matt alerted him to an opportunity at Trust Restaurant Group's hit Mission Hills American restaurant Fort Oak. Under the mentorship of culinary virtuosos like Chef Brad Wise, Chef Mark Schmitt, and Chef Jeremy Harville, Paul's culinary journey reached new heights. Fort Oak's accolades, including awards for Best New Restaurant and a Michelin inclusion, underscored the invaluable lessons Paul imbibed during his tenure.
However, life's unpredictability intervened when Paul's beloved aunt fell ill. With unwavering devotion, he dedicated his time to her, ultimately bidding adieu to Fort Oak to embark on his entrepreneurial voyage. Yet, as fate would have it, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced Paul to pause his professional journey, prompting him to channel his creativity into a cookie dough business. Despite its success, Paul's true calling beckoned him back to barbecue.

"My own cookie dough business was received well and I got into 16 stores, selling over 1000 units in less than a year but it wasn’t what I wanted with my career," continued Jamma.

Joining Cali BBQ, Paul brought his fine dining finesse to the realm of barbecue, only to encounter a clash of culinary philosophies. Uncompromising in his commitment to quality, Paul sought refuge at San Diego's barbecue mecca, Grand Ole BBQ, where his talents flourished. 
"At Grand Ole BBQ, they quickly noticed that I was overqualified to be a line cook asked me to be the sous chef within a couple of months of employment. "I said 'hell yeah' and a little later their pit master quit, leaving an opening. They asked me if I wanted to be in the kitchen or out in the pits and I chose the pits."

Yet, amidst triumphs lay trials, as Paul grappled with challenges both in and out of the kitchen while working at GoB. Undeterred, Paul's unwavering dedication to his craft spurred him to embark on a solo venture, founding Paul's BBQ. From crafting his signature sauces and rubs to sourcing local fruit trees for his smoker, Paul leaves no stone unturned in his quest to redefine San Diego's barbecue scene. 

Paul's BBQ specializes in perfectly smoked barbecue brisket, which has a deliciously caramelized bark over a pink smoke ring and juicy, tender meat. He currently sells whole smoked briskets, as well as 2lb packages, both served with sides of traditional coleslaw, eggless potato salad, homemade sweet & tangy barbecue sauce, and crispy pickled onions. Paul also offers catering options and custom orders with options ranging from pork butt to barbecue ribs. We tried his brisket and can attest that it may be the best we've ever had...anywhere. 
At Paul's BBQ, excellence isn't just a goal; it's a way of life. From pre-dawn smokes to accolades from renowned food critics, Paul's journey is a testament to the indomitable spirit of culinary innovation. As he continues to push the boundaries of barbecue, one brisket at a time, Paul Jamma's legacy will continue to be etched in every mouthwatering bite, a testament to the enduring power of passion and perseverance in the pursuit of perfection.

For more information and to place your order, follow Paul's BBQ on Instagram