Somes times ya just gotta hear it from the briskets mouth. Aaron Emailed me his mini bio needed to just send you his word. We are a lucky community to have this family run biz....Enjoy
"I could tell you I've been cooking for 39 years (I'm 40...Jake) and how I studied and I’m a badass who grew up in kitchens and that may or may not be true. Problem is that there will always be someone more experienced or able to chop onions faster or whatever that for some people un-creds my cred.
My most recent job before losing my mind and opening a BBQ joint was getting paid for doing nothing (corporate equipment manager with a $600 million annual budget) at a huge national construction company. After working 60 hour a week (I used to think that was a lot) I would work on weekends for a few local caterers and even did a free 3-month stint in a friends restaurant just prepping and basic menial tasks. I knew this was what I wanted to do forever but because I already had a real job/family/mortgage I couldn’t do it in a traditional way. I had to be creative. I knew no one would pay me to do anything so for about 10 years I did it for free. I was the guy you could call on the weekends to help setup, prep, serve…whatever. I ate it up. I paid attention. I didn’t act like I knew it all because I watched food network or had a subscription to Saveur. I was not THAT guy. I was serious, as professional as a complete amateur can be and I paid attention. I was in it form the get-go to make the switch from pro corporate dude to restaurantuer.
My dad and mom were the best cooks I know. Dad was all into BBQ, sourdough bread, beer, Mom should have opened a restaurant, she was that good. I was the best fed kid ever, never ate anything processed or caned. My Mom wouldn’t even buy dried pasta, always from scratch and with love.
I was 12 when my alcoholic Dad said fuck it (sounded like shphuuckiiitt) and threw a freshly proofed sourdough pizza dough on the Weber and made “wood fired” pizza with… like… rabbit on it that he shot that day, and may even had some Lucky lager in the sauce. Looking back it was pizza sacrilege, but oh so smoky/saucy/cheesy great and is still in the top 10 best foods I have ever eaten.
About 10 years ago a friend bought a wood fired pizza oven and put it in his back yard. I spend the next year bugging the shit out of my friend to make pizza and drink his beer. We started having parties at his house and I got really good at the pizza thing. Then we decided to take our show on the road. Another friend had an old set of axles from a rusted out trailer so we decided to weld and drink beer and in 3 months we had this unbelievable pizza oven trailer. Then what…well I just started kinda whoring myself out to anyone who would have me cheap so I could get the experience. That kind of worked but the friends and family thing will only take you so far ya know.
In 2008 I had a little equity in my house and somehow knew that I could do this. I could kill pizza, kill BBQ and my wife after watching me destroy myself in my current job and at the same time love what I did on the weekends finally, like Adrian in Rocky II says “win Rock”, Nancy says “go for it”.
That was the easy part. What was this restaurant concept, what was it going to be. I spent not a lot of time on this because it was obvious. Unless I have lost my mind, BBQ and Wood Fired Pizza is what I do and is what isn’t done too well in Santa Cruz.
The concept, logo, menu all happened in a few weeks. Then location in the next 2 weeks. Then 14 months of hell thank you Santa Cruz Planning Dept. Then came the Friday, Dec 4th 2009. I had 4 county inspections’ scheduled in a row, $0 in the bank, a semi truck full of food parked down the street and a secret the county didn’t know about waiting with a crane (huge smoker) all hanging on passing these inspections.
We passed, food truck/smoker dropped and we were off. Prepped/smoked/freaked out all day/night long, FB’d we were opening at noon and by 5pm had a full house and didn’t sleep for a week straight.
I’m the guy who dreamed it, built it, cooked it and then was about to have a very rude awakening about how hard this business actually is.
• I like my BBQ dry…SOS please
• Pork Butt, dry rubbed, hand pulled w/ my take on Carolina Vin sauce
• Texas Brisket, un-molested and dry rubbed. (you can molest later)
• St Louis cut pork spares, dry rubbed but a little mop about ¾ through sure makes a difference in the texture so we do it and hold our heads high
• Beef rib is a long
• ONLY Caputo “00” from Naples will do
• Fire roasted tomatoes, sea salt = sauce
• I would love to use nothing but the best but I have to pick my battles. Grande for the main mozz and prov, imported bufala, pecorino, parm used strategically.
• Burgers…no joke
• We grind our own from grass fed tri-tip/brisket/short rib and add extra brisket fat for fun
• We have a burger that is ½ ground beef, ½ ground bacon that makes me giggle like a girl every time I eat it
• The lemon/lime custard pie and the carrot cake are my wife’s recipes.
• We make everything in house (just like momma) except the gluten free pizza dough (still riding pizza) and the cookies (family friend)
I need a beer"