Shopping for a Pitmaster
Posted 14 January 2003 - 12:47 PM
When selecting a chef for such a unique NYC dwelling, what process did you use in finding the right person for the job? Did "Barbecue Chefs" apply, or did you have your eye on someone special? If so, why?
Thanks so much,
Posted 15 January 2003 - 03:37 PM
We picked Kenny Callaghan to be Blue Smoke's chef, who had been a sous-chef working with Michael Romano for 8 years. He got the job because he's not only a great cook, but he's passionate about execution, consistency and excellence. He's also a real guy with no airs. He's not a chef who's out to re-create the culinary world. Barbecue is a journey of taking each day as an opportunity to figure out what went wrong and what went right yesterday, and acting upon what you learned today. That's what Kenny does best. He's persistent and won't quit until he gets it right. In that respect, barbecue is good job security.
For two years before we opened, Kenny travelled back and forth with Michael Romano to train with Mike Mills and to learn his way around a smoker. He also travelled around the country to understand what barbecue meant in the various barbecue capitals. He attended competitions, worked with pitmasters in Texas, and kept learning and learning. This fall, he and Michael attended the Southern Food Alliance symposium on barbecue in Mississippi. Then they competed for the first time at the Murpysboro Barbecue Invitational (they finished 4th and beat last year's champion). Additionally we invite pitmasters into Blue Smoke's kitchen all the time. They're free with advice. The learning never stops.
And the learning curve has been steep. Blue Smoke is 9 months old, and as of this morning, we were still talking about dramatic things we learned just yesterday. That won't quit for a long time.
Also, it really feels good to promote from within. Especially someone like Kenny.
Posted 15 January 2003 - 07:56 PM