Chefs on the Grill with Michael Nagrant - Barry Sorkin

This month, Nagrant sat down with Skokie native Barry Sorkin, a partner at Old Irving Park’s barbecue sensation, Smoque (3800 N. Pulaski Rd.; 773-545-7427).

Smoque chef Barry Sorkin

 

Barry Sorkin


 

 

PODCAST: Listen to the rest of the interview by clicking on the Podcast above.(00.42:51)


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MN: How do you find your way from an IT services company to barbecue?
BS:
You sit down with your wife and say, “What do you think about me quitting my cushy, high-paying job and going into the world’s riskiest business?” She said go for it.

MN: They say the easiest way to start a war is talk about barbecue.
BS:
That’s part of the reason we got into this business. I love the passion that comes along with barbecue. I’d rather have some people love us and some people hate us than have everybody be indifferent about us.

MN: Is your barbecue good because you’re not afraid to break the “rules"?
BS:
We’re not finishing our ribs on a grill, like a lot of people would; we’re finishing them in a conveyor oven. Some would say, that’s not how you do ribs. But if there are better ways to do it, I have no problem trying something new.

MN: I was struck by how every single side dish was great on its own.
BS:
We spent weeks trying to get the macaroni and cheese right.

MN: How did you choose Old Irving Park?
BS:
I live ten blocks away. It’s a great neighborhood with a handful of good restaurants, but there’s a lack of culinary diversity. The neighborhood is looking for almost anything now, and it never hurts to be the only game in town.

MN: Why does the name Smoque seem to confuse people?
BS:
Almost nobody pronounces it right [Smoke]. I’ve heard smo-kay; I’ve heard smo-cue. At the restaurant show this past year, someone looked at our name tags and said, “Schmukee?” Some think it’s clever; some think it’s idiotic.

 

Photograph: Audrey Cho

 

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