Winter 2015

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Alumni Life

Nizar Ku: BBQ Cowboy

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When Nizar Ku ’08 returned home to Malaysia in 2012 after eight years in the United States, he was hard-pressed to find the American-style barbecue sauces he’d grown to love. Working for American Airlines for four years in Dallas, where “every weekend was like a barbecue weekend,” Ku had visited numerous mom-and-pop barbecue joints, each with its own unique sauce. Back in Kuala Lumpur, the former industrial engineer began experimenting with his own sauces on the side while working for Malaysia Airlines and, later, in corporate finance. Then in December 2014, he and some friends opened the Texas-inspired Cowboys Food Truck, which serves wings, brisket, barbecue chicken sandwiches, po’ boys and nachos coated in his own special seasoning. The signature dish is the “Chuck Norris,” a platter of brisket, chicken and wings that sells out almost every night. With limited space on the truck, Ku says he often employs his engineering expertise to maximize efficiency. “The whole idea is to minimize movements within the truck,” Ku says. “Turnover time is important. People tend not to want to wait long for food.” He says he might expand the business into a full-fledged barbecue restaurant.