When you are at the top of your game, working as the Global Head of Creative for an international company or as an advisor for the government, the next stage in your career progression would probably be a director, or a CEO or maybe even a government big shot. Well that is the total opposite direction that Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn took and to be quite frank, I’m over the moon at their decision.
The pair both moved to London eight years ago in a bid to further their careers. However those careers have taken a radical about turn that saw them pack in the London life to travel America.
The gals now make up Hang Fire Smokehouse; a BBQ pop-up restaurant that has become an institution in Cardiff.
Talking about the curveball of a life choice, Sam optimistically said, “We’ll always have these careers to fall back on, but we’re hoping now we’ve made the big decision to start something for ourselves that we’ll keep going.”
As they set off across the pond, they were “determined to start a business in the food industry,” but neither was set on an idea. Sam always had a passion for American style BBQ before they jetted off, so “that was always on the back burner,” she said.
Partway through their journey, after hitting Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, the backyard BBQ idea slowly became a possibility.
After this light bulb moment the girls “ate, slept and breathed BBQ for five solid months!” For the duration of their trip, they attempted to soak up as much knowledge as possible; they cooked at a rodeo, attended master classes and dined in as many BBQ joints as possible (both good and bad).
Reminiscing of their favourite BBQ joint, Franklins in Austin, TX, Sam and Shauna spoke of their aspirations to replicate what they ate and experienced there. Run by meat guru Aaron Franklin, guests start queuing at half seven in the morning in attempt to get a table when the doors swing open at 11am, to serve lunch at 1pm. Now that is commitment to taste some of the 500kgs of beef, ribs, turkey and hot links that Franklins cooks each and every day
I’ve heard of people waiting in line hours for an iPhone, or even camping over night to get into the first screening of a film, but never have I heard of such dedication to BBQ. It just goes to show how crazy about the stuff Americans are, and it is this passion that is heavily ingrained into Hang Fire Smokehouse.
Tips and tricks
Sometimes the knowledge was hard to come by, especially because the chefs can potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in competitions, and so may be reluctant to hand over their secrets. “You’ll get some tips, but they will always hold a little back. Unless you crack out a bottle of Kentucky whiskey,” they joked.
As their adventure came to an end, the pair packed their bags full of tips and tricks and headed back to Cardiff to set the gears in motion. After landing on home soil, their Texan smoker eventually arrived and Hang Fire Smokehouse was born.
No easy ride
Since first firing up their smoker, they haven’t looked back. Operating out of The Canadian pub on a Friday and Saturday, as well as other hoedowns including their monthly Smoke Dawgs night, it’s no easy ride. “It takes a whole week to prepare smoked food for a two night pop-up,” she explains. Rustling up the pulled pork takes 48 hours and the chicken, brisket and ribs all take 24 hours. Then there are all the sauces and side dishes to make, “from scratch, week on week.”
The love and passion that goes into every rib, every pot of slaw, and every bottle of Kansas style BBQ shines through in every single mouthful.
Abundance of ideas
When talking of the future, the BBQ dream team have high aspirations and state, “The possibilities are endless.” They have “an abundance of food ideas,” as well as the possibility of catering larger events; whether that is in conjunction with The Safe Foundation, or weddings and corporate events (that’s enough to make any boy think about popping the question, if only to sit and eat BBQ in a suit).
Due to the pop-up nature of the business, they aren’t tied down and are both “looking forward to 2014” and what opportunities may come their way.