Smoque chef Barry Sorkin


Barry Sorkin



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MN: How do you find your way from an IT services company to barbecue?
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.
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"?
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.
We spent weeks trying to get the macaroni and cheese right.

MN: How did you choose Old Irving Park?
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?
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