Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Guest blogger Carey "Peg Leg Porker" Bringle: Aspen Food & Wine Festival

My good buddy Carey Bringle (Peg Leg Porker) was asked by the Lobel boys to cook & attend the prestigious "Aspen Food & Wine" festival. This week I asked Carey to guest blog about the experience. By the way......look at the dadgum fat marble in those 3" thick (yes you read that right!) Wagyu dry aged New York strips. Also Carey is pictured with food/wine celebrity Andrea Immer.

Hey Folks,
It's Carey Bringle, The Peg Leg Porker......I am honored that Pat asked me to guest Blog today about my experience at the Food & Wine Magazine, Classic at Aspen. Let me start off by explaining the reason that I was there. Three or four years ago, Evan Lobel asked me if I could smoke some Waygu Brisket for the Classic at Aspen food Show and ship it out there for them to serve at the Grand Tastings. I did this cook as a personal favor but let me tell you, it was nerve racking. Evan wanted them to be just right. He would be serving them next to his father and their reputation was on the line. It was the first time that they had done this show and it was very high profile. I cooked about 36 Brisket that year and from Evan's account, they were a real crowd pleaser. He called me from the booth and said "Carey, your a F$%^*&* hero, we have a line around the booth and this stuff is the hit of the show." I was glad to hear it because for the previous week, Evan had called me several times to remind me how important this was. I think I lost 10lbs. that week worrying about how they turned out and waiting for his call to let me know. The next year, I cooked again and they asked me if I would like to come out to the show as their guest for the work I had done. I cooked the brisket but I turned them down on the trip because frankly, I had been traveling a lot, just finished Memphis in May and was plain worn out. Last year they didn't do the show and one of their key competitors, Allen Brothers, started displaying there. That did not set well with Evan. They made an executive decision that this year, they would be back and show the world why they are the Best Damn Steaks and Mail Order Gourmet Food Company in America. I had regretted not going the year I had been invited so this year, we made a deal that a ticket to the show and a plane ride would be my payment for Smoking the Brisket. The amount.........650 Lbs. of Waygu. That is a lot of Brisket........My father lives in Carbondale and is very ill. He has been suffering from Multiple Meyeloma for over 10 years. This would also be a great chance to spend some more time with he and Susan and see him for Father's Day. I started cooking Brisket on the Vertical Smoker at 5:30 AM on Friday, June 8th. That night, Dave Johnson and Pat came over to help and have a few. Dave was cooking on the horizontal for a catering Gig and Pat was just coming to help and lend moral support. We had a great time shooting the shit and throwing back a few. I cooked almost non stop until Sunday morning. 50 Brisket in total. I was worn out. Pat and Dave can both tell you, cooking a ton of meat can wear you out but when you see people enjoying it and hear their comments, it is a great feeling. I arrived in CO on Thursday. My sister was with me and we spent some time with Dad and Susan that night. Friday, I got up, we had some breakfast at the Village Smithy in Carbondale and I headed to Aspen (about 25 miles away). I got there about 1:00 and they had just finished the first Grand Tasting. Evan and David said that it was a huge hit. There was not another tasting until 4:30 so I went to a Mixology Seminar given by Tony Abou-Ganim. He has a show on Fine Living teaching the art of cocktail making. Let me say that any seminar where they hand you a drink on your way in and then make you drinks all the way through is my kind of class. I went to the Grand Tasting at 4:30 and it was great. The Lobel's were serving Braised Short ribs at that tasting. They seemed to be a pretty big hit but I really wanted to see the Brisket being served. We hung around after the tasting and went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in town. We would start again in the morning. The Aspen Times had come by that afternoon and spoken with Evan. We were all anxious to see what they would write. On Saturday morning, I woke up and drove to Aspen first thing. The Grand tasting started at 11:30 and I wanted to see how the brisket would be received. David came in to the tent holding the Aspen Times......Jackpot.......Evan was featured on the front page with a headline of "Lobel's, Butchering the Competition" .....In your face Allen Brothers.....It talked about the brisket and needless to say, at the Grand tasting, the table was mobbed. The log jam in front of our table wasn't helped by the fact that Mario Batali was signing Crocs at the table across from us. Between the two booths, you couldn't make it through that part of the tent. I'll have to say that it was pretty exciting seeing all those people go crazy over the food that I cooked. That afternoon, I met Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin, Andrea Immer and Bradford Thompson. Wow, what a treat. The last thing that I did that afternoon was meet Evan, David and Jamie (owner of Smoke Restaurant in El Jebel, the caterer that Lobel's hired to help them in Aspen) at Jamie's house to see them cooking the Waygu strip steaks that they would serve that afternoon at the 3:45 Grand Tasting. What a sight to see, 147 Lbs. of Waygu strips at a retail value of $150 a piece....beautiful.....I told them that I was going to have dinner with my family and probably wouldn't be back on Sunday. Evan told me top pick out the best steak and take it for me and my Dad to share for Fathers day. We cooked it that night and it was great....I spent Sunday with Dad and Susan. We enjoyed the day and the incredible view that their new house has of Mt. Sopris. I was leaving Monday morning and it was going to be hard to say goodbye. The weekend was great. I am thankful to have been able to participate in such a celebrated event, enjoyed spending time with my good friends Evan and David and even more thankful to have been able to spend a little more time with my Dad. This is a Fathers day weekend that I know I will never forget..... Lobel's: Butchering the competition...............Brisket a hit in Grand Tasting tent

No comments:

What is this Blog???

You ever been sitting around cooking for your family and friends and been told the following: "Hoss, this is the best I've ever had in my dadgum have got to open up a place of your own". The thought crosses your mind to do just that, but for whatever reason you dont. Well I'm "that" guy that actually went through with it and did it. I had absolutely ZERO restaurant experience! I decided to start this blog about my own experience hoping that it may be of some use and help to others who might be interested in opening their own place.
I learned this craft almost 20 years ago cooking whole hogs on brick & cinder block pits at a couple of little BBQ Joints in Henderson, TN. I learned from old, lifelong career Pit-Masters, working with them as an apprentice during school off and on for four years. Over the course of that time I learned the old, time-honored craft of REAL pit barbecue. At Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint I am trying as hard as I can everyday to bring that time-honored authenticity to my customers.
As you read you'll see I've made some stupid decisions, and I've made some good decisions. If you are thinking of opening a restaurant, especially a BBQ Joint, read this blog! Maybe some of this info can be of use to you. At the very least you will be entertained because I pull no punches.
Now listen, this is my blog to not only help with information but my blog to freely rant about my day to day experiences. There is no real "bad language" on this blog but there might be some things said that are very "tongue in cheek". If you are easily offended and/or cant see the satire in my posts then please just leave the blog. It will save both of us the annoyance of each other. For those of you who do like satire and are looking for good information about this experience, then by all means enjoy!