Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em
Chef Tim Byres' updated spin on barbecue
Barbecue: All the hip kids are doing it. A new generation of chefs and restaurateurs, both within the South and beyond, is paying homage to aged and beloved pit masters. They’re also taking liberties with their forebears’ techniques and traditions.
At Fatty ’Cue in Brooklyn, New York, Zakary Pelaccio smokes beef deckle, smears it with chile jam, and serves hunks of that fat-cap-topped and smoke-suffused brisket with bao, those steamed Chinese buns peddled from dim sum carts. Closer to barbecue’s ancestral home in Charleston, South Carolina, Sean Brock of McCrady’s occasionally steeps pulled and sauced pork sandwiches in heavy cream and, using legerdemain and liquid nitrogen, produces barbecue-flavored Dippin’ Dots.
It would be easy to dismiss such work as blasphemy. Five years back, confronted with comparable riffs on culinary tradition, I keened and hollered about how, while much of the South was being strip-malled, barbecue could and should be appreciated as a cultural bulwark, an intransigent expression of the past in the present.
But I was wrong. Small-minded even.
I embraced that realization while seated at the bar at Smoke, a new restaurant in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, a city where belief in barbecue is a sort of civic religion. Smoke is a project of Tim Byres, a pedigreed chef with a résumé that includes a stint at the swanky Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.