Check our our FB live feed from last week where we introduce you to our new home in picturesque Red Hill and take you through the beginning of our build! Please excuse our nerves - live feed! Ack! Keep following us on FB to keep up with the action. #followthesmoke
Check our our Pitmaster Owner, BBQ King doing his inspiring thang.
I come into Southern Soul a bit later than usual to spend a couple hours finishing up and saying my goodbyes before we leave St Simons Island. I say goodbye to Terrance at the Pit, I will miss him. He makes cooking BBQ easy, and as those who love to cook BBQ know, it’s many things, but easy is not one of them. I spot Griffin, Harrison’s business partner and co-founder of Southern Soul. I want to make sure he gets his T-shirt and I thank him for his hospitality as well. Though I’ve spent more of my time with Harrison in the restaurant, the guys in the kitchen talk to me about Griffin and they believe his networking and marketing genius have been integral to the success of the restaurant. I’ve seen him as he pops into the kitchen sporadically to make dishes like tomato pie and then he disappears again. I’m intrigued by Griffin’s work as I’ve come to understand how essential this side of the business is, and an element I’ve neglected since starting Red Gum, until recently. For the last 6 months I have made this a focus of my time and have seen the rewards.
Melissa, my wife arrives to take some pictures of me, Harrison, Kitty and Griffin in front of the pits. We’ll use these for marketing purposes but also, I just really want to capture the moment as I have had such a great time. I am planning a Southern Lovin BBQ dinner that I will be putting on when I get back from my US trip. This will have my favourite dishes that I made and ate during my time at Southern Soul and across the South; I have Jason on speed dial just in case I forget something. This will be a ticketed event so stay tuned. After photos I head inside into the kitchen to grab some pics with the crew. They have taught me a lot, not only about BBQ and Southern Cooking but also about their lives in America, their personal insights into the culture and the politics and their experiences of this part of the world and for that I thank them. I’m leaving a little bit wiser and a little bit wider. Far out - I have eaten a lot!
I would personally like to thank Harrison, Kitty and Griffin for their Hospitality. At the start of this year I sent an email to Harrison asking if I come and hang out for a week and work in his restaurant, I am so glad I did and that he agreed! He has been so welcoming and willing to share experiences and knowledge. The dude loves to laugh and have fun and you can see that this rubs off on his employees and the experience customers have at Southern Soul. His BBQ is exceptional, the pulled pork is the best I have ever had and his St Louis spares are delicious. I am more determined then ever to try and source quality pork ribs to add to my menu as they are so good. I’m hoping he takes me up on my offer to return the hospitality and visit us in Oz. We’d all be lucky to have him cook for us!
Before I go Harrison sends a text to Bryan the owner of B’s Cracklin’ BBQ in Savannah Georgia letting him know we are going to visit him. Bryan is famous for his whole hog and I am excited to be going to Savannah and to B’s.
From St Simon’s Island we to Savannah, a place that holds a special place in my heart. My wife and I visited here years ago, before children. It’s where she spent much time as a child with her grandparents and her love of it and the charm of the place, rubs off on me. It’s a quintessential southern city, with a rich history, beautiful homes, a downtown built around small garden squares and gas lanterns lighting the streets at night.
When we arrive we decide visit Paula Deen’s Restaurant. If you don’t know who she is, she is the Queen of Southern Cooking, google her. I get the Chicken Pot Pie and it’s great. Melissa get’s the Southern buffet, fried chicken, ribs and an assortment of southern sides. It also comes with dessert, she opts for, surprise! The Banana pudding. This is the second day in a row I have had banana pudding. Still love it.
We stay at the Brice, it is beautiful boutique hotel (we seem to find ourselves at one fancy joint per trip, it has become a bit of tradition). We first started doing this when we lived in the UK together as poor students. We visited Austria around 12 years ago and we stayed in the nicest hotel in town for one night. Posh hotel sheets are the best.
After a good night sleep we decide to go for lunch at B’s. It is only about 10mins from Melissa’s grandparents old home so we decide to swing past there first. It was amazing to see the house that Melissa has spoken so fondly off. Next stop B’s. We pull up to the middle shop in a strip mall, I can already smell the BBQ.
We walk in and I recognise Bryan instantly, he’s quite the recognisable cat - tall with long dreads. It also helps that he’s wearing a baseball cap that says owner. He is expecting us and he introduces us to his wife Nikki who is lovely. From what I have noticed of Southern BBQ joints is that they are run by husband and wife teams, Melissa and I seem to be continuing this tradition! I am lucky to catch him as he is off to a meeting this afternoon. Exciting things are happening at B’s and it just inspires me to continue doing what I am doing. I ask if we can go see his Pit. It appears that Georgia is Lang country. Bryan has a monster reverse flow offset out the back of his joint. We head back into the restaurant, exchange t-shirts and he heads into the kitchen to rustle us up a platter, we have St Louis spares, chopped hog, pork sausage, half bird, brisket and sides. I really like his hash, which is like a savoury pork stew over rice. We also got, you guessed it, Banana Pudding! This is now day 3. I must admit Brian’s BBQ is excellent and his Georgia peach mustard sauce is unreal.
We leave Georgia to head back to Amelia Island and spend more time with family. But I leave with a big smile on my face - the kindness and openness of folk I have met and worked with over here is so uplifting. I’m done blogging for the time being. It’s been an awesome way to document my time and to share it with our BBQ friends and family across the world. I am looking forward to the last week or so of our trip – more time with friends and family, heading south, enjoying summer and more time thinking about how to interject some of this Southern magic into Red Gum BBQ. And on a last note… we’ve got news brewing… looking forward to sharing this with you all, LIVE, soon, on facebook. Keep listening. Peace and Pork to you all!
I wake up this morning at 5:30am, back on the purple pushy and ride to work. I don’t mind riding in the morning as it hasn’t yet reached unbearable temps. When I arrive at Southern Soul this morning Terrance and Q are already hard at it, lighting pits and adding rub to briskets. Jason is inside making mac and cheese. Jason has been my go to person all week for all things southern cooking and is a top bloke. Jason’s shares his approach to Brunswick Stew, Mac and Cheese, BBQ beans, Collard Greens and countless others. You’d think he was born and bred in the deep South and he’s got the drawl to match but Jason was born in San Diego. The boys tell me he runs for mayor of the St Simons every election and there are even bumper stickers with his face on them plastered in the Kitchen. Funny dude.
I spend most of my morning making burnt ends. The point of the brisket is removed, cut into about a centimetre cube and is returned to the smoker with beef stock. I prefer this to the burnt ends I have had which is mixed with BBQ sauce. I like my brisket without sauce so this is perfect.
At some point service starts and I find myself pulling butts. I like pulling butts - I get to chat to little Terrence. I struggle to understand Terrence through his thick Georgia accent, but we manage. He asks me lots of questions about Australia and he shows me the Southern Soul method of pulling butts. Southern Soul is famous for its pork and its pulled is the best I have ever tasted. It is not mixed with anything, it is straight-up, soft, smoky pork. Terrence pulls together sandwiches and sides at lightening speed. And as fast as I can pull butts they are flying out the door. This lasts for about 2hrs and I take a break.
I like to go to see the guys and gals out front for a different view. They like to have fun and you can see that they really enjoy themselves. Not that the kitchen doesn’t have fun – the boys laugh and sing and have a great time but the kitchen is hot and sweaty and filled with sounds of orders being yelled. There are more woman than men out front and I enjoy listening to their lovely, buttery southern accents. I have a good chat to KK who is awesome - she talks to me about music and her travels around the world being a rock star. No, literally she is in a famous band, my friends in the UK are big fans. Once again, small world. Micah worked behind the bar or taking orders and was super friendly. Her boyfriend, who is from Manchester, England, is currently living in Melbourne. She is coming out to visit him and has promised to come say g’day when she lands in Australia.
My favourite spot is out by the pits, it’s peaceful. Maybe it’s that it reminds me of home and is so familiar to me. It can be hectic inside but outside Big Terrance, one of Southern Soul’s Pitmasters is at peace, he is quietly spoken and goes about his business methodically with purpose. It is hot though - a little like a sauna with a fireplace.
This afternoon I make banana pudding with Jason. This is one of my wife’s favourite desserts so I’m quite familiar with it; it’s been on the Red Gum menu at varied points so I’m thrilled when he makes me my very own individual one. It’s delicious and I’m decided that it needs to be back on the menu when I return home. I decide to leave around 2:30pm. Back on my bike and back to the family. Tomorrow I just have a few hours in the morning with the crew before we head off and leave St Simons Island and Southern Soul BBQ. I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye.
Oops, I have slept in. That’s O.K. I’m ‘sort of’ on holiday. I open up my computer and answer a few emails and around 10am I get a lift to work. Too hot to ride at this time. I decide today that I am going to spend some time chatting to front of house staff and witness firsthand the hordes of people waiting for and eating their BBQ. Its amazing, people standing in line, names being called. I stand at the pass and watch tray after tray leave the kitchen making its way out to the seating area. I have a good chat to the catering manager about her processes whilst this is all taking place and eventually move back to the kitchen.
I prep ribs and brisket and take them out to the smokers. Terrence is the main man on the pits, managing what goes on at what time and when things get pulled off. He has been at it for 6 years so knows it like the back of his hand. My job is to run in meat from the pit to the kitchen where I wrap it and place in coolers to rest until it is needed.
At some point I spot Harrison and see him for a chat. He takes me back to the office where Kitty, his super lovely wife is doing the books. We chat about who’s who in BBQ and I am amazed all the folks he knows and how they all started in and around the same time. I know this is the case in Australia but I guess I imagine that the scene in the US is so large that they don’t all connect somehow. The lesson for me is that we are all connected, in this crazy BBQ world. I explain to Harrison my plan for a special return to Oz dinner night back in the US and he shares a few recipes with me.
There is where Q has asked me to mention that he came in on his day off and saved the day. I have never seen a young fella manhandle 30kg boxes of meat so easily. We are currently waiting for a delivery of butts, 30 boxes in fact and am amused that the truck driver, who usually works a different route is surprised about the volume of product Southern Soul is having delivered. I agree! These guys are producing and selling a lot of barbeque! I help move the 30 boxes of butts and 20 boxes of spare ribs inside. We prep 12 BOXES (8 shoulders to a box) of butts before home time. I am tired. Bed.
After I came home from Day 1 from Southern Soul I could think of little else but the tired. These guys really shift serious amounts of BBQ, cooking ribs all day, pulling butts, slicing briskets and serving birds (this is what they call chicken). I spent most of my day prepping meat and making sides. I went home and slept like a baby until my sleeping baby wakes at 2am (that whole ‘sleeping baby’ metaphor is a bit mixed up). This makes waking up at 5:15am a little more difficult but I get up and on the purple push bike because I’m excited to meet Harrison today, amongst others.
It has been super busy on Saint Simons Island due to the 4th of July celebrations so Harrison has had a Day off on my first day at his BBQ joint. Today he is by the pit bright and early getting ready for what I know will be a busy and hot Georgia day. There's a heat wave here at the moment and about 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day! Makes being at the hot pit a bit sweatier.
Harrison and I hit it off, there is a comraderie between folk who quit their jobs and decide to cook BBQ on stick burners. We share a common love and experience of the gruelling hours and labour that exists in this way of life. We chat and talk about the love of BBQ and the difficulties and the rewards of running your own business. He is a super nice guy, more than willing to share stories and experiences.
After getting the pits ready for the day’s cook we head inside to prep for service. The doors open at 11am and we better be ready as we will be busy. This morning I make 50 gallons of bbq sauce, Brunswick Stew, prep ribs and brisket. Harrison cooks me up a whole rack of ribs for breakfast. I spend a bit of time observing and writing notes and enjoying some southern hospitality. Today I meet a young fella called Austin who use to live in St Kilda (where the wife and I spent our first 8 years in Australia) and lived in Australia for a number of years - small world.
At some point during the day my family and friends arrive and we are treated to a family style feast from Harrison, pulled pork, ribs, brisket, mac and cheese, Brunswick stew and French fries. They were blown away by his hospitality and of course, the quality of the Q.
After lunch I head outside to clean pits with Trent. Southern Soul share the same philosophy as me around cleaning the pit after every cook. It is so stinking hot here at the moment that cleaning a hot pit is a challenge but the process is interrupted by 4 Apache helicopters flying so low that you can see and wave to the pilots. Crazy. The BBQ joint is next door to an airport so often Air Force pilots whilst getting their air hours up, fly in and grab their BBQ lunch and fly off.
Around 4:30pm I decide to call it quits for the day and decide to call my wife to come pick me up as the thought of riding the purple beast back home in 100 degree heat is not something I am looking forward to. Tomorrow I’ll spend some time with front of house folk who I’ve had very little time to chat to – looking forward to it!
I have been in the US now for about 2 weeks after flying from Melbourne via Brisbane, LA and onto Miami, a mammoth trip with two small children.
My wife as a native Floridian, born and raised in Miami, first requested we find Cuban food. So my first meal state side was black beans and rice and grilled chicken – so simple but somehow the Cuban flavours bring it to life and make you come back for more. After spending a couple of days in South Florida we headed to Disney, this part was for the kids but who knew Micky is a Pitmaster?! Disney rocks a Back Yard BBQ, ribs, brisket, pulled pork, fried chicken with all the ‘fixins. It was decent looking BBQ but not quite the quality I’m accustomed to but did get me excited about my travels and all the southern food to come. Ps. Disney World is awesome. At any age.
Next stop: Amelia Island, Florida. My mother in law lives in Fernandina Beach, a small island community just outside Jacksonville. This is where our southern food adventure begins. This town is not about BBQ but all about shrimp. You see shrimp boats moored in the harbour here, straight outta Forest Gump. My first real Southern feed is Shrimp and Grits. My wife had been trying to convince me of grits for years, unsuccessfully. if you’re unfamiliar – they are cornmeal, a little like polenta, usually drowning in butter, maybe cheese, served warm and usually with breakfast. True Southern food! These grits were nestled under some shrimp, pan-fired in garlic and the winner was the white wine heavy cream andouille sausage gravy. Unreal. Nuff said. Other notable mentions have been the fried shrimp and hush puppies and the staple burgers and hot dogs on the fourth of July.
From Northern Florida, to Southern Georgia and Saint Simons Island and Southern Soul BBQ. We arrived mid-afternoon and decided to have dinner at Southern Soul. I introduced myself to the staff and am told to be there in the morning, 6am. Bring a meat probe, note book and pen.
For dinner we ordered the St Louis style pork ribs, BBQ beans, mac and cheese, brisket, slaw and potato salad. Just a few things; the toddler is a big eater. Everything was top shelf - especially the ribs - ridiculously good. I go to bed just a little excited. I set my alarm for 5:15 am and jump on my purple beach bike that is at the house we rented and head to my first day at Southern Soul BBQ.
I roll up on my sick new ride and say g’day to my new crew. We get stuck in straight away, the pits are already up to temp. We are burning Oak which has been double split and is sitting outside the restaurant. They run four pits, three Lang reverse flow offsets and a rotisserie smoker. First job is to rub butts (don’t you love BBQ speak?), these get stacked in the rotisserie smoker, then briskets go in the first Lang, ribs and chicken in the second and the third pit is not being used today. I spend most of the morning prepping ribs and briskets. Service starts at 11am and before I know it we are getting smashed but it is a well-oiled machine, with Chef Leo at the pass, Big (that’s his name) slicing brisket and ribs, Terrance on sides, Dan on sandwiches, Joe and I smashing out prep and Q (yes, his name, Q cooks the Que) managing the pits. I spend most of my day answering questions about kangaroos and Australian BBQ.
I leave at 3pm after picking Leo’s brain about service and hot holding and go home to see the family who have spent the day at the pool, hiding from the 100 degree Fahrenheit heat. Pizza for dinner tonight. Back at Southern Soul, 6 am tomorrow – more from me tomorrow night!
Join us on our Southern Lovin' BBQ Tour 2016! We'll be eating our way across the Southern US of A in just a few weeks time and you can follow along. What's the next best thing to escaping a cold and wet winter for a meaty, smokey summer BBQ adventure? Well, seeing pictures and hearing all about, of course!
So the Red Gum BBQ Crew (aka, Mr & Mrs. Pitmaster and Pitmaster Jnrs.) are off to the states to visit family, friends and of course, hit up some BBQ joints. We are to do a whirl wind tour of Northern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
What I am most interested in is more than BBQ but also southern cooking in general. I hope to get some more family recipes, get info from about their favourite southern recipes, speak to chefs and cooks and of course learn from some awesome Pitmasters.
I am off to work with Harrison Sapp, Pitmaster and owner of Southern Soul BBQ on Saint Simons Island in Georgia. This place what southern-style BBQ is all about! Named Best BBQ by Travel Magazine, Best Ribs by Southern Living Magazine and the rest. They have been kind enough to invite me along to hang out for a week and I'm just a little bit excited about this opportunity. I will be posting pictures and blogging so you can keep up to date with my BBQ adventure.
I will be coming home with some killer new recipes, techniques and knowledge that I will be showcasing at a one off event, Marty’s BBQ Return to Oz – tickets will be available soon.
Martin (Pitmaster and Southern cooking lover)
Once upon a time there was a girl from the South and her man from across the pond who had a dream of bringing BBQ to the masses. But more than just BBQ, we imagined the whole, real deal. The kind of venue, food, music, drink and people that created that special something. A place where people felt they were with family - where the meat, music and merriment was in plentitude - and where people left with full bellies and smiles on their faces. This was the dream that became Saturday Smoke.
Sometime in 2013 we visited Commonfolk Coffee and were excited to find a place that we felt was really doing things right - or at least right in our very not-expert opinion. The space, the food, the feeling that you got when you walked in the door - like you could kick up your heels and make yourself at home. And let your kid eat off the floor - bonus. When we thought about where we would like to do a pop-up on the Peninsula - this venue was top on our list. Sam - the mastermind behind Commonfolk was so generous of his time, his advice and his space. After much consideration for how the event would come to life; Saturday Smoke was born in May of 2014. A night of Meat, Music and Merriment - where a 3-course family style dinner was presented amongst the wide open space, long bench tables and open air outside of the venue.
We fed and fed - until people could be fed no more. We adorned tables with hessian runners and herb plants. Sourced local craft beers, wines and ciders and connected with our Peninsula roots. We got some of the best bluegrass and folk singers around to come add their strings, voices and soul to the night and by the end of the evening we knew we had made our little BBQ dream come true. What began as an unsure organiser, a hesitant but hopeful Pitmaster and Chef, a new and inexperienced staff and a room full of curious strangers - ended with a community of friends, of glowing compliments and of a thrilled and tired Mr. and Mrs. Pitmaster. This first Saturday Smoke turned into a monthly event - where we trialled a continuous stream of Southern cooking to overwhelmingly kind praise. But more importantly, what never faltered but in fact grew, was the sense of family and community we found in the event. We believe that BBQ brings people together and is best amongst friends and Saturday Smoke was the testament to this. This BBQ dream realised, we're onto the next! Saturday Smoke will live again. Watch this space. And stay tuned to see more of our dreams come true.