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Join Sugarfire owner and master chef Mike Johnson (and his pitmaster Casey Jovick) for a once in a lifetime trip to Austin, TX. Sample BBQ at eight BBQ restaurants in four days and meet many of the owners and chefs during kitchen visits and tours.

Your trip includes:

  • Flights from St. Louis to Austin.
  • Luxury accommodations at the Four Seasons Austin for four nights.
  • Austin city tour.
  • Ground transportation to and from the airport and all group events.
  • A day trip to Taylor, TX, home of many of the best BBQ joints in Texas.
  • Visits to 7-8 of the top BBQ restaurants in and around Austin.
  • Unique educational opportunities and behind the scenes visits with restaurant owners and chefs.
  • Professional travel consultant Kevin Dern onsite to oversee all arrangements and ensure VIP service.

Cost: $2700 per couple plus air (apx $350-400 per person). 

Space is extremely limited. Deposit required (details below).

About Mike Johnson

Owner and Master Chef
Sugarfire Smokehouse, St. Louis, MO

Mike started cooking in several Saint Louis restaurants at a young age. Soon after high school, he moved to New Orleans and worked for a young Emeril Lagasse. He then went to work for Emeril’s friend Charlie Trotter in Chicago, and then Gabino Sotellino at Un Grand Cafe/Ambria. After that he journeyed to Chartres, France for a stint at the famed Le Buisson D’Ardent.

Mike then returned to the US to work for Belgian Master Chef Daniel Joly at Mirabelle in Beaver Creek, and then on to work for Joachim Splichal from the famed Patina restaurant group’s Napa Valley outpost, Pinot Blanc. He then returned to St. Louis to design and own several of Saint Louis’s favorite restaurants, including Cafe Mira, Roxane, Barcelona, Momos, Boogaloo, El Scorcho, and several other embarrassing ones that he would like to not mention.

Mike turned to barbecue after spending time with Myron Mixon from Pitmasters at his school in Unadilla, Georgia. He opened Sugarfire Smokehouse in 2012 and has just opened two other locations in the St. Louis area.

Read more about Mike in this recent interview with St. Louis

Detailed Itinerary

Wed, Nov 12

Fly to Austin, TX.

Transportation from the Austin airport to the Four Seasons Austin is provided.

Afternoon on own.

Welcome cocktail reception hosted by Mike Johnson.

BBQ dinner in Austin (included) - details TBD. 

Thurs, Nov 13

Private, guided city tour. Tour includes stops at 2-3 BBQ restaurants for a progressive lunch (included). Details TBD.

Afternoon, evening and dinner on own.

Fri, Nov 14

Morning on own.

Private, half day excursion to Lockhart, TX, located apx 40 minutes from downtown Austin. Transportation provided. Cash allowance provided for attendees to visit 3-4 of the best BBQ places in Texas on their own between Noon and 3:00 PM.

Evening and dinner on own.

Sat, Nov 15

Morning, afternoon, and lunch on own.

BBQ dinner in Austin (included) - details TBD. 

Sun, Nov 16

Transportation to the Austin airport provided on a group basis. 

Flights home. 

About Austin


Additional Details

Airline Tickets

Kevin Dern Travel will book your airline tickets on your behalf. There is no fee for this - once you approve your flights, the tickets will be charged directly to your credit card. Roundtrip flights from St. Louis to Austin are currently apx $355 per person. Fares can and do change. If you wish to purchase your own airline tickets, you may do so, but airport transfers would be a personal expense unless you are arriving at the same time as our group flights.


The following meals are included in the trip package cost:

Wednesday: dinner
Thursday: lunch
Friday: cash allowance for lunch at leisure
Saturday: dinner

All other meals are on own and at personal expense. 

Hotel Accommodations

Your trip includes four nights at the Four Seasons Austin, located in the heart of the city. Hotel amenities include a 24-hour fitness center, heated outdoor pool, business center, complimentary morning coffee in the lobby, free basic wifi, live music in the lobby on Wednesday through Saturday evenings, and a full-service spa.

A credit card will be required for check-in at the hotel. Any items charged to your room would be a personal expense.

Rooms are available with either one king or two beds. King beds are not guaranteed.

Internet TBD.

Upgrades may be available at additional expense. Please contact Kevin Dern Travel for details.

Time on Own

Your travel itinerary has been planned to allow you 

Deposits and Payments


Cancellation Policy


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Travel arrangements are handled by Kevin Dern Travel. Contact Kevin to request space on this trip or with any questions:

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