Growing up, food was all about transformation.
My mother and grandmother would take the raw elements of their gardens and transform them into complete meals on our table. My father would turn a pile of sticks into a campfire over which we’d gather around and cook our meals. And on every one of these occasions, meals became more than a collection of people eating food—they became spaces of comfort and warmth and communion.
These meals were the start of South Philly Smökhaus.
The restaurant began in my South Philly row home kitchen and tiny back patio, where there was hardly room to move, much less smoke meat. What started out as a casual weekend hobby became a BBQ obsession so intense that I went out and bought a food grade steel barrel and built my own crude smoker. Spending the afternoon with an angle grinder and half of my body inside a metal barrel I shaped my first smoker.
Over the next few years, I went from feeding my family, to feeding my friends, to hosting cookouts on the sidewalk in front of my home; happily handing a sandwich to whomever passed by. Word of mouth slowly turned my local pastime into a part-time catering gig, which led to pop-up events at venues such as The Bok Bar, Brewery ARS and The Dutch. It was hectic and stressful, but I was having the time of my life. So I took the leap, and South Philly Smökhaus was born.