The beginnings of my cooking career were in Boston Beach, Jamaica, where I was born. When I was 10 years old, I became the man of the house and was charged with performing the cooking chores, along with my grandmother, for the entire family. This included my three younger siblings and two cousins. A frequent cooking style for us was called “pit slow cooking”. Using wood for fuel, we dug deep holes in the sand, and cooked in this manner. As it turns out, this was essentially the same approach as the pit barbecue style of the American South.
When I arrived in Canada in 1975, I found ready employment in commercial kitchens, both restaurants and hotels, and began to specialize in large-scale, production cooking. I received my chef papers from Niagara College in 1986 from their culinary arts division and from that time took a number of chef positions in the Toronto area.
MY CAREER IN
RIBS TAKES OFF
In 1999, I was the chef at Milwaukee’s Restaurant in Toronto. We immediately began featuring slow-smoked barbecue on our menu, using a J&R smokehouse (a legendary production unit, mfg. in Mesquite, Texas). We put together a BBQ festival/ribfest team and participated in a number of such festivals. I was pit master and head sauce maker for this team and was fortunate enough to win a f e w trophies, including be s t r ibs a t St Lawrence Market and best sauce at both Etobicoke and Burlington Rib festivals. In 2001, I took the chef position at The Granite Br ewe r y, a br ewpub i n Toronto and began to expand my culinary depth to include br ew ma s te r t r a ining . I continued, for that first year at The Granite, to tour as pitmaster/sauce maker for the Milwaukee’s team.
CONTINUING A RIB TRADITION
In the spring of 2010, I started to consider making my way back into the Rib fest circuit. By this time, my kids were in school and doing fine, so I could once again consider a bit of summer ribbing. I had done a lot of outdoor catering events as Brickyard BBQ and participated in the occasional community food festival, but for me, there’s really nothing like the large-scale production thrill of rib fests. So, I put together a rig, put together a team from my restaurant employees and did the North Scarborough Rotary Ribfest and the Brantford Kinsmen Ribfest, both inaugural events, as well as putting up a BBQ booth at the Caribana festival. These events were successful for us and were greatly enjoyed by my team, who were happy to be learning a lot of new skills and seeing a lot of new faces. Needless to say, my appetite for ribfesting was whetted mightily; after the first event, it felt like I had never left.
HOME IN OFF SEASON
A few years back, I began a joint venture with the indoor sports complex located adjacent to the restaurant and have transformed it into a sports-themed restaurant/ sports bar. I’ve retained the name “Brickyard BBQ” for the exclusive use of my ribfest team and summer BBQ catering. The Brickyard team consists of myself, and 5 of my reliable employees from eZone Tap&Grill restaurant. They now also have ribfest experience from various events over the past few summers. We pride ourselves, in our attention to customer service, something years in restaurants trains. Now that they are trained in the ways of ribfesting and have gained such knowledge and the same love for it that I have. They’ve adapted well to being right out there with the public, quite a different stance from the protected position of restaurant cook or waiter. They like the challenge, like the people and they have no trouble attracting a lineup.