Lick the Plate: Get some smoked goodness at GNAW BBQ

I’ve mentioned this before in columns pertaining to BBQ yet it bears repeating as the term BBQ has morphed into a catch-all for any type of gathering that includes cooking on a grill. The term BBQ refers to cooking with smoke. Grilling refers to cooking over a flame produced by either gas, charcoal, wood or a combination.

As the owner of a medium-sized offset smoker, I can appreciate the time and dedication it takes to maintain that low and slow temperature best suited for melt-in-your-mouth, fall off the bone ribs, brisket, butt, chicken or whatever you are smoking. That’s BBQ. Not trying to be a snob about it, just educate.

With that, I woke up on a recent Sunday morning with the scent of pecan wood smoke wafting through my house as a result of an onshore flow, a top five scent in my world for sure. I thought maybe it was a neighbor with a new smoker but realized as soon as I peddled up to the Leucadia Farmers Market that there was a new BBQ addition to the market and I was quite excited by the prospects.

GNAW owner Louis Muckle and his amazing brisket  Photo David Boylan

GNAW owner Louis Muckle and his amazing brisket  Photo David Boylan

I tracked down owner Louis Muckle, sampled some of their mighty fine offerings and had a conversation with this fascinating guy who besides doing killer BBQ has a fairly high profile gig in the entertainment industry. Here are some highlights.

LTP:

Where are you from and what was going on in your culinary world growing up?

Louis Muckle:

I’m from New York, but also lived in Illinois, Orange County and Temecula. Moving was a constant when I was young, as well as home-cooked meals. My mom was a homemaker and prided herself on making dinner every evening, big breakfasts on weekends and boatloads of baked goods. The process of making food from scratch was always present and I naturally gravitated to it.

LTP:

Since you were in Chicago long enough to develop a taste for the food, what are your top three Chicago-centric foods?

LM:

Chicago-style dog, Italian beef and thin crust pizza, yes thin crust!

LTP:

You had a very interesting career prior to embarking on this BBQ venture, tell me about that.

LM:

Early on, I was a pop culture junkie and was fortunate to land a job in the entertainment industry at Violator Management. At the time, Violator was managing Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Mobb Deep and Missy Elliot, all at the height of their careers. Later, I became an advertising director at Rolling Stone and Complex. In 2006, I decided to launch, with my sister, an entertainment marketing company, which to this day is still my baby. We’ve worked with Justin Timberlake, Jamie Foxx, Jonas Brothers, Steven Tyler, Michael Bolton, Charlie Wilson and Saturday Night Live as well as many other entertainment brands.

LTP:

What are your earliest memories of BBQ and what would you consider the top three BBQ experiences you’ve had?

LM:

My earliest memory of BBQ is lighter fluid … .and absolutely hated the smell of it. But, most of the time enjoyed the end product. As far as my best experiences, discovering Blue Smoke restaurant in Manhattan tops the list. That was the first time, I really had authentic BBQ. Followed by producing Justin Timberlake’s HBO concert special in 2007. This allowed me to have great ‘cue all over the heartland, while touring. Not only did I get to sample different flavor profiles, I also rapped with a variety of pitmasters. Closing out the list, would be watching my kids demonstrate they have no manners when devouring my ‘cue. It always makes me so proud!

LTP:

What motived the decision to embark on GNAW?

LM:

Well, I love ‘cue and wanted to provide another food option. There are plenty of good eats around here. The standard has been set, we just hope GNAW lives up to it.

LTP:

Tell me about your smoker and why you went with that style and brand?

LM:

We use two kinds of smokers. A Lang offset stick burner and a Stump’s gravity feed unit. The stick burner is used for most of our short cooks, like ribs, chicken and tri-tip. The gravity feed is our long cook unit, which we use for brisket and pork. We went with Lang because of its reverse flow system. It’s designed to cook meat evenly by having the heat and smoke travel under the meat and then reverse and travel all the way back to its original entry point before it exits the stack. Our Stump’s unit was chosen because of its temperature control function. It’s a steady cooker and that’s what you need when cooking ‘cue … low, slow and steady.

LTP:

What type of BBQ and sides can folks expect at the Leucadia Farmers Market?

LM:

Our ‘cue is Kansas City-style with a dash of Texas and a pinch of Memphis. At the market, we offer brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken for the proteins. For the sides, we have smoked mac and cheese, corn bread, mustard potato salad, slaw, roasted corn on the cob and frickles.

LTP:

Is GNAW available for private events and catering?

LM:

Yes, this summer GNAW will offer catering and in the fall we will roll out our private event service.

LTP:

Any plans for taking this beyond the farmers market?

LM:

Oh yeah, would love to have a small carryout setup. I’m in this for the long haul but believe in baby steps.

LTP:

OK, let’s wrap this with some music. Who and where was your first concert and what three bands would you put on a stage for your dream concert lineup?

LM:

1985, New Edition, Rosemont Horizon in Illinois. The energy in the house that night was crazy. Excellent show! Dream concert is tough. So many to choose from, but if you put a gun to my head I would go with The Famous Flames with James Brown as lead singer, Prince and the Revolution and the Beatles. But, I would also book Marley Marl and the Juice Crew for the after-party. Sorry, had to take it to an after-party. I love me some hip-hop!

GNAW BBQ is at the Leucadia Farmers Market every Sunday and can be found online at www.gnawbbq.com.

 

0 Comments

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

a
or

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?