big belly que smithtown ny

Big Belly Que Turns Their Food Obsession into a Business

Today I’m speaking with Chris, the owner and pitmaster at Big Belly Que in Smithtown, NY. After running a catering business for 6 years, Chris was ready to take the leap to open a restaurant only to have COVID put the brakes on their plans.

Chris and his partners were literally ready to go in their new space and the world was forced to shut down. Their first step was to start donating to hospitals rather than open up to customers. Chris describes it as a win-win situation as they were able to donate 2,000 meals all the while getting to put their new kitchen and equipment to the test.

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Obsessed with Barbecue

That was all great news but I really wanted to understand where the passion for BBQ came from. Chis decided to put his digital marketing skills to good use and 6 years ago they built a website to see if BBQ was a business worth pursuing. He also explains his love of food. In fact, Chris’ father was a chef for 15 years and ironically Dad doesn’t like to do BBQ.

Chris explains how he became obsessed with barbecue, watching YouTube videos in order to perfect the craft. The idea for Chris is to make the perfect brisket, ribs and pulled pork that combines a number of different styles and techniques. Shoutout to pitmaster Malcom Reed who is one of Chris’ favorite pitmasters on YouTube. Here’s a link to Malcom’s channel How to BBQ Right.

As you’ll hear, Chris gets all amped up when talking about his techniques and recipes and almost spills one of his secrets to his dry rub. It just so happens there’s some fusion going on at Big Belly Que as well which leads us into more about the food. They’ve even had a great response to their sauces which is what can take your barbecue experience to the next level.

Obsessed with Barbecue

If you dive into the menu you’ll see all the standard barbecue fair from brisket to ribs. Their most popular item at the moment is their pulled pork sandwich featuring a toasted brioche bun, an onion ring and house made cole slaw to top it off. Chris admits this particular iteration came together by accident.

When I think about barbecue, burgers aren’t what I’m thinking about but Chris explains their Ultimate BBQ burger in such detail it actually may have put me in a food coma during the interview. Find out for yourself around 15 minute mark in the podcast.

I have an eye for unique menu items and the one that caught my attention was the meat tornado. Apparently the name is an homage to the show Parks on Rec. It’s an absurd amount of protein not for the faint of heart. The hardest part for Chris was narrowing down which meats would make the cut for the final menu item.

Vegan pulled pork isn’t standard barbecue fair. It turns out Chris’ sister is slowly turning vegan and after watching a number of YouTube videos he found his own creation using oyster mushrooms. The look and feel of it is as closed to pulled pork as you can get. He knew he had a hit on his hands when his sister approved the dish.

Watch the Parks and Rec clip referencing the meat tornado

At the end of the interview we really get to see how much of a humanitarian Chris and his partners really are. They want to feed the world. They want to give back. They offer discounts to first responders and have been donating as much food as possible during the pandemic.

Find out how Big Belly Que is helping frontline workers on their website https://www.bigbellyq.com/

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