Smoke & Ash; My BBQ Obsession!
For those of you that are not regular followers, BBQ is life. I am a certified Kansas City BBQ Society Judge as well as a judge for the Canadian BBQ Society. I love the smell and the taste of smoked meats. I was hooked the first time my bestie gifted me with a smoked rainbow trout as a child.
Smoke and Ash Canadian BBQ has been on my hit list for quite some time. They were running a food truck out in front of the Peavy Mart in Spruce Grove for most of the last summer. I did make it out once to see them, but it was just before closing time and they were unfortunately sold out. I did get a chance to chat briefly with Kelly (one of the owners) and the chat just stuck in my head. You can tell with just a brief chat that he is “good people”.
Last summer was plagued with vehicle difficulties for me. It was rough to try and make it much of anywhere, so food truck season ended and I did not get a chance to sample Smoke and Ash. “Next Summer”, I thought.
Summer ends and haunt season begins. I put my head down in September and it doesn’t come back up until November. Extra busy season this year though as we moved Deadmonton to a new building. When Smoke and Ash came up in my Facebook feed advertising smoked turkeys for Christmas, SOLD! My mom-in-law doesn’t like all the work that comes with cooking for all of us ungratefuls, so I thought I would make her life just a little easier and pick up the turkey. I am SO glad that I did.
In October, Smoke and Ash made 106 Fulton Drive out in the Acheson Industrial area their new restaurant’s home. It is a bit of a drive, but worth the effort.
I made a point to make sure that I had enough time to have a meal while we were there doing the pick- up. Brisket is always my standard of judging a new BBQ place because it is the hardest meat to smoke properly so that it is tender and juicy. They did not disappoint!
This was actually the first place that had asked me if I wanted fatty or lean brisket. The favourite part of the brisket for me is the burnt ends. It is a beautiful heart attack on a bun! Slight smoky flavour, so tender and juicy. Some very good BBQ!
Of course I hauled my husband along with me because he loves good BBQ as well and he has been lucky enough to taste competition grade along with me. Hubby doesn’t normally like Potato Salad. I have no idea what Shirley does to her potato salad, but it is amazing and my husband loves it. Shirley is a little shy (especially compared to Kelly) but she is the creative force behind all of the salads and the sides. It is all delicious. She makes one of my childhood favourites, Ambrosia Salad (Fluff Salad).
After the amazing meal and the equally amazing smoked turkey that we enjoyed over the Christmas holiday, I had to find out more about these two lovely people.
RR First off; what is your Muse?
KK I have always liked cooking since I was 8 years old. I grew up on a farm. One night I looked in my mom’s cookbook and found a cake pudding recipe. So I made it, and it turned out exactly how it was supposed to. From that day on I liked cooking. Even though my mom insisted I became a chef, I went into the trades. I started enjoying the flavor of smoke at around the same time as my uncle was a commercial fisherman. He supplied us with smoked salmon all the time. So when I was about 17, I started cooking jerky and very much enjoyed it.
RR What inspired you to start a BBQ food truck?
KK I have always wanted a restaurant. A couple years ago I became unemployed, so I was doing body and paint on hotrods but it was barely paying the bills. Our kids were over one sunny sunday afternoon enjoying some ribs, and I had mentioned that I had to find a job as I was not making enough money. Our oldest daughter spoke up and said
“You should make and sell sausage because whenever I get some to take home, my friends go nuts over it and it’s gone in one sitting.”
So we looked into what we would need to do. The renovations required in our house were out of the question, so we decided to start a food truck with beef or pork on a bun. It just took off like crazy, so we have just been having fun with it.
RR Tell me about the other half of Smoke & Ash, Shirley
KK Shirley is a very compassionate loving person. She has a very strong love for everyone in her family. Her youngest daughter was born with congenital heart disease and she was a stay at home mom so she could love and care for her daughter Britany, who lived a short but awesome life. Britany passed away in 2013 at the age of 17. Shirley then faced the task of caring for both of her elderly parents who were in their 80’s whom both passed away in 2016 during the infant stages of Smoke & Ash. Her Mom passed in August, and her Father on Jan 3 2017. With all the children gone from home, she now channels her energies into Smoke & Ash making all the sides and the baking and of course keeping Kelly in line.
RR I hear that you have a new restaurant located out in the Acheson Industrial area. What can a guest expect when they walk through your doors?
KK The first thing to expect when you walk through our doors, would be the awesome aroma of BBQ. You would also expect a warm, welcoming greeting from our staff. Depending on the time of day, you may hear people laughing and talking and having a great time in our family friendly environment.
RR What kind of hardwood do you use for smoking?
KK We generally keep to 2 different hardwoods pecan for when we are smoking light meats like pork chicken or sausage.
Meats such as brisket, prime rib, or rib eye we use a blend of mesquite, oak, and hickory.
RR How long does it take to make a brisket?
KK The actual smoking of a brisket takes about 12 hours. Normally, we rest it for another 12 hours or more, so I generally start the brisket by 8 am for the next day.
RR Where did you learn to BBQ?
KK I have always had a love for BBQ. I was in my mid-teens when I first started. I have also loved entertaining on the patio. So many, many years of trial and error until I got to the point where I am now. I seem to be getting a handle on it!
RR What menu item would you say is unique to Smoke & Ash?
KK Originally, I would have to say the garlic fries. Since there so many other restaurants making them now, I think I would go with Potato salad. It may not be unique, but the level of flavor Shirley gets to go with it makes it unique.
RR What exciting things can we expect from Smoke & Ash in 2018?
KK We have just struck a deal with a big food supplier that promises to bring superior cuts of meat to our house at an affordable price. We will be able to put these meats on your plate at very reasonable savings. We have been talking about Prime Rib. Ribeye and Strip loin. If you have never tried BBQ Strip loin roast, you are missing out.
RR We are also planning, and you heard it here first, to continue our “all you can eat” buffet special on through February.
KK We are also working on becoming licensed so y’all can enjoy a beer or wine with your BBQ. We are working with Steam Whistle who, by the way, have been very supportive so we have decided to carry only their beer on tap.
RR Where do you want Smoke & Ash to be in five years?
KK That’s a very interesting question, one which we ponder on quite a bit. We have thought of the possibilities of opening multiple locations, but are more apt to think that we will either be doing a small scale franchise, or just being humble and keeping it to one location. The problem is Kelly is a shaker and a mover and can’t seem to keep still!
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the month of February, there is an “All You Can Eat” BBQ buffet for only $20! This includes your beverage and unlimited sides. On Saturday, you can add a 6oz portion of smoked Prime Rib for an extra $5. They are open from 11am to 8pm on each of the buffet nights. The buffet special is eat in only.
They also have take-out specials if you don’t eat that much meat. $10 for one meat and two sides or $15 for 3 meats and 2 sides. Follow them on Social Media to keep in the loop about the specials.
Smoke and Ash is a little slice of home. Kelly and Shirley will take great care of you when you visit, you will not walk out of their restaurant hungry. Go and get yourself some meat sweats!