Why Chefs Love to Cook Barbecue Slideshow
October 13, 2012
The Guy Who Doesn't Screw Around
Jeffrey Coon, executive chef, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, New York City
"I love cooking barbecue because you take cuts of meat that are usually unmanageable, you work 'em, you use your knowledge, you smoke 'em low and slow, you make great product outta what a lotta people consider not so good… But it's always a challenge every day. I love it and I've been doin' it for 20 years now. We don't [screw] around and we take it serious."
He's not kidding — Coon once worked 36 hours straight on the line at Meatopia.
Just Loves It
"It's fun because I'm a barbecue guy — I'm a retired New York City police officer, and I started competitive barbecuing but that's how I got into this.
Probably brisket and pork shoulder are my two favorites. Brisket is just so good — you know, if you cook brisket properly, 200 to 225 degrees, for about 12 to 16 hours, it comes out unbelievably good, and the same thing with pork shoulder, with all those special rubs and injections, you can get a really great product."
The Guy Likes Pork
"Pork. Love pork — I like pork butts, I like a little bit of fat in my meat; I don't like meat that doesn't have any fat. Great bark on the skin so it has a nice seasoned crust on the outside so it's the first thing you taste when you bite in, and then you taste the nice, moist tender meat inside of that. It's that slow process to get that cooked in — really, really good, strong flavors into the meat."
Don't Put Barbecue in a Box
Oliver Gift, executive chef, Lowcountry, New York City
"For a lot of young chefs, I think barbecue is a great avenue… there's such a broad range in this food and style.
It's not so much "Southern" [anymore] — it's worldwide; I have a menu item, a pork slider that's very Asian… in its preparation, for example. I try to take the whole gamut of the world and bring it back down for inspiration — I don't think it's really for somebody to lock [barbecue] into a specific area."
The People Person
Simon Glenn, chef and "number one conspirator," Tchoup Shop BBQ, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y.
"It's especially good when you get away from the kitchen walls, and you're sitting there and you're at the grill, serving people right there, watching people eat your food interactively."
Jeff Lutonsky, co-owner, Mable's Smokehouse & Banquet Hall, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y.
"I enjoy cooking with barbecue because it's constantly changing. It takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master, basically. So, there are so many different variables that can really throw off something working with cheap cuts of meat, cheap vegetables... so you take something that used to be tossed away and then just with a lot of love and attention, then you transform that into something that's really special and kind of amazing that blows people away."
The Brisket Man
Daniel DeLaney, owner, BrisketLab, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y. (opening Oct. 31, 2012)
"Brisket is the most difficult protein to cook, but if you nail it, really nail it, it's mind-blowing — really, really mind-blowing."
Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Udi's Gluten Free Foods
Rocco DiSpirito, celebrity chef, television show host, and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author
"I think what's great about barbecue is it's always delicious and it's something everyone can do. And it's usually when men get involved in cooking so it's kind of a fun opportunity for men to contribute to getting the family together for dinner." Indeed, men do like their meat.