For a guy whose first food job was scrubbing dishes at an all-you-can-eat pizza joint to teaching himself to smoke 100 pounds a day of highly prized pork, beef and chicken (all the while shunning trendy cooking gadgetry), Marc Kaufman and his wife, Maggie, have carved out a pretty amazing restaurant legacy.
So it is at Smoke On, a re-named business started by Kaufman and Maggie (also a service industry veteran) out of the back of a food truck in Rosman to today, where cars often queue on Caldwell Street for their turn at meats before, heaven forbid, the police restore traffic order or their favorite smoky food is sold out for the day.
The Kansas City native has only known the food biz since he was 15. “
My resume is getting pretty narrow,” he laughed.
Although he called himself “a line cook that rose too far” as he hand crafted tacos in the tiny kitchen at his new location inside the new Ecusta Brewing location, Kaufman recalled when his family relocated from Colorado to Brevard eight years ago without knowing a soul, except for his brother Ryan. The wife and husband duo’s first foray into local food (“go with what you know,” said Marc) was a food truck parked outside Headwaters Outdoor Adventures, where Ryan was a fishing guide.
Food trucks “are just a ton of work, and we had no idea of the challenges that lay ahead,” he admitted.
Not that the couple was “naive, but there are things that you just can’t anticipate, and we certainly encountered our share of difficulties.” And it’s where Marc cut his teeth on the art of smoked meats. Trial and error is another way to put it.
“I learned it all at the back of that trailer,” he said. “My barbecue experience was pretty minimal when we started that business.”
Yet he persisted – and the customers piled up. “When you do it long enough, the meat will teach you what to do,” he said. “It’s one of those things where people will give you recipes but those really don’t apply. Every piece of meat is different. Each piece of wood is different.
“And it depends on how the wind is blowing. All those things come into play. My biggest piece of advice is: ‘Don’t pay attention to anything but the smoke coming out of your stack.’ I don’t mess with gauges” or thermometers.”
The name on the food truck: Blue Smoke, and the rest is local culinary lore.
Of course, Blue Smoke gave way to Smoke On and while the name on the door changed a few years back Marc chuckled at the known fact that die-hard customers won’t call his business by anything other than the brand-that-shall-not-be-named.
“The old ways persist. That’s how people know it,”
He sees Smoke On as part of a food renaissance in Brevard.
The local food scene “is evolving and growing.”
“I see people pushing harder all the time. Makes us push, too. I think that’s exciting,” he said.
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