Smok­ing up Dubai’s taste buds

Bring­ing the Amer­i­can bar­be­cue tra­di­tion to din­ers in Dubai, head chef and pit­mas­ter at the Black­smith Smoke­house, orelle Young tells Ma­hak Man­nan why ev­ery restau­rant in the city can be a com­pe­ti­tion for them.

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After spend­ing over a decade mas­ter­ing the art of a per­fect bar­be­cue in the US and UK, Chef Young joined Wyn­d­hyam Dubai Ma­rina to open the first Amer­i­can Smoke­house in Dubai and he be­lieves that there is no limit to com­pe­ti­tion.

“Ev­ery op­er­at­ing restau­rant in the city can be a com­pe­ti­tion for us. At any given point of time peo­ple have dif­fer­ent moods, ap­petites, and bank bal­ances. Peo­ple write about food all around the world un­til they are blue in the face but they al­ways come back and bring a friend with them to a place where they re­ceive great hos­pi­tal­ity,” he says.

“As long as Black­smith puts our guest ex­pe­ri­ence first there is no com­pe­ti­tion, just other restau­rants around us work­ing hard to keep din­ers happy.”

Draw­ing his ex­pe­ri­ences from the Amer­i­can hol­i­days, Chef Young ex­plains how fam­ily gath­er­ings and spe­cial oc­ca­sions helped him cre­ate the menu for Black­smith.

“I am here to give Dubai some boldly sea­soned eats that are humbly crafted by a cen­tury of Amer­i­can bar­be­cue tra­di­tions,” he says.

“Some of the best food comes out to the ta­ble for Labour Day, Memo­rial Day, In­de­pen­dence Day, Christ­mas and Thanks­giv­ing. Amer­i­cans will find any rea­son to pull out a grill or a smoker.

“The menu I have cre­ated for Black­smith brings those oc­ca­sions to­gether. Soul food means a lot of dif­fer­ent things

to a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple, for me it was the meals I ate after church with my fam­ily ev­ery Sun­day, the food served at large church fes­ti­vals and con­ven­tions and packed plates at an­nual fam­ily re­unions in Mem­phis and Florida.”

The menu at Black­smith is a mashup of Chef Young’s favourite ribs, smoked meat, trim­mings and desserts.

“I’m very proud of the un­con­ven­tional and off the wall smoked items we have on the menu like the smoked apri­cot duck breast and grilled oc­to­pus,” he says.

“Brisket, short ribs and chicken tend to al­ways get their time to shine due to the fa­mil­iar­ity with the masses. But the smaller the meat, the big­ger the amount of cre­ativ­ity and pre­ci­sion re­quired, you may also see rat­tlesnake on the menu sooner than you think. There will be sev­eral new reg­u­lar spe­cials pop­ping up through­out the year ei­ther weekly or monthly.”

How­ever, open­ing a smoke­house in Dubai comes with its own set of chal­lenges which in­cludes set­ting up a smoker in­side the kitchen, ac­cord­ing to Chef Young.

“A smoker is a very pow­er­ful ma­chine that is nor­mally op­er­ated out­doors, which is why if you plan to op­er­ate one in­doors you face sev­eral chal­lenges. The top three faced thus far have been get­ting a gas-line ap­proved and in­stalled for the smoker, get­ting clean into the pit room and get­ting the smoke or heat out of the pit room,” he ex­plains.

“In terms of sup­plies, we are break­danc­ing be­tween Amer­i­can and Aus­tralian based sup­pli­ers at the mo­ment. South Africa also has some in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive prod­ucts in the UAE mar­ket.

“brisket, short ribs and chicken Tend To al­ways get Their Time To shine due To The fa­mil­iar­ity with The masses”

“But one thing that has been a chal­lenge to source so far is An­cho chili pow­der which is pretty elu­sive here, so now I dry roast and grind my own. Ev­ery­thing has an al­ter­na­tive, you do the best with what you got,” Chef Young adds.

Speak­ing about chefs start­ing out in the re­gion, Chef Young says it is im­per­a­tive for them to choose qual­ity over quan­tity.

“Con­trol your menu size. It is bet­ter to change up a smaller menu fre­quently than try­ing to please ev­ery­one and their mother with a gi­gan­tic menu,” he ex­plains.

“This also pro­motes push­ing fresher, more flavour­ful and more con­sis­tent eats out to your loyal guests. Use a spe­cials cat­e­gory to your ad­van­tage as well, your next hit dish could be on that chalk­board. Feel out the re­sponse and don’t be afraid to give out free sam­ples.”

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