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They are going to teach people to barbecue at home, without a smoker, during a class at the Methven Summer School.
“It’s a way the average Joe can buy a cheaper cut of meat and make it special,” says Ken.
The duo have been working together at Lake House Restaurant, at Lake Hood, since Ken and his family arrived from South Africa in April last year.
Ken, 37, and Matt, 18, a gold medal winner of the Auckland National Secondary Schools Culinary Competition and son of award winning sausage maker Paddy Kennedy, are part of a diverse team at the restaurant led by executive chef David Blundell, and have been offering American-style smokehouse barbecue meats since Covid-19 lockdown ended.
They are keen to pass on some knowledge and inspire others, especially if it leads to roles in the hospitality industry, which has a shortage of chefs.
Ken says prior to lockdown the restaurant was having monthly integration evenings of South African braai and New Zealand barbecue on the menu. It introduced the smoked option which proved very popular, sold out quickly and ended up being requested for wedding breakfasts and functions.
“For us it was great, we couldn’t keep up with the barbecue,” Ken said.
The restaurant invested in a massive smoker custom-made by SmokeDogg Smokers in Kaiapoi.
Weighing a whopping 1.2 tonne, the double-door reverse smoker was the biggest the company had ever built.
Each door weighs 50kg, with a counter lever, so is like a mini workout each time it’s opened.
And it’s opened a lot with meat constantly being checked and the temperature kept at an even 150 degrees Celsius.
The barbecue bistro, aptly named Smoke, has had rave reviews, including from a few ex-pat Americans living in Mid Canterbury.
It’s a testament to the long hours the duo put into cooking cuts of meat such as brisket (breast section), Boston butt (pork shoulder), pork ribs and chicken; the meats need up to 10 hours cooking time, using meat rubs as authentic as possible.
The slow cooked meats are also used to make the restaurant’s own sausages, mince and meat patties.
At full capacity the Lake House smoker could feed 100 to 200 people, depending on the cuts of meat being smoked.
One of the secrets to cooking American barbecue is cooking meat slowly and at a low constant temperature, and Ken says there’s a real science to it.
It’s one he has perfected over time, dabbling with barbecue techniques while working in a fine dining restaurant in South Africa.
The restaurant was serving 1000 customers a day and pulling in $1 million rand (or $NZ90,000) a month.
And every Friday night they would create a barbecue menu using specially cooked brisket and sweetbread meats.
It was a way to take cheaper cuts of meat and create a special meal, he said.
There are other secrets to getting the meat perfectly tenderised and full of flavour. It can include the type of wood used in the burner; either kiln dried or naturally dried beech woods, specialty cherry and apricot woods sourced from Central Otago or manuka from the West Coast, which is used to produce different flavoured smoke.
But it’s a balancing act.