Erick Williams is working with David Morton and Michael Kornick to open County (1352 W. Taylor St., no phone yet), a barbecue spot in Little Italy. Morton and Kornick own DMK Burger Bar and Fish Bar, and Kornick owns MK. We have high hopes for Williams's latest venture.
Dish: You’ve worked with Michael Kornick for a long time, right?
Erick Williams: I built the wine cabinets at MK. It’s 15 years, to be exact. It’s like a marriage.
D: What type of barbecue will County serve?
EW: What we are going to do is provide a vehicle for smoked food or barbecue that doesn’t have the stamp of a particular town. We really, really love the black pepper from Austin. We love the tart vinegar from the Carolinas. And the mustard-based sauce that they do. We are not going to create our own melting pot in Chicago, but we are going to utilize those flavor profiles that stand broad in our minds.
D: Will it specialize in any particular meat?
EW: Ribs will be the focal point on the menu. At least that’s what we think, until the customers decide otherwise.
D: Will the other barbecue staples all be available?
EW: Yes. As well as rib tips. Once the fat renders in those tips, there is no better eating. I am really passionate about that.
D: Anything unusual?
EW: Maybe lamb. And there is a lot of turkey being served in the South. Turkey legs or wings could be in that mix. Pork shanks could be in that mix.
D: Have you got the smoker in yet?
EW: We’re installing [an Ole Hickory brand smoker] right now. We will definitely be smoking slow and low, as the term is coined. The way Kornick and I eat, we believe that smoke is an ingredient just as much as salt or anything else. There are times when you can eat things that are oversmoked, just like [things can be] overseasoned. We are going to make sure that part of this process is treating smoke with the same respect as any other seasoning.
D: When do you think County will open?
EW: That’s always the big question. We hate to put out a date, because we hate being that guy. We are hoping this place will be open in July.