Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One On One With Personal Chef Wendy Boumo Chok

For three days, personal chef Wendy Boumo Chok of Los Angeles, California, ate, lived and learned how to prepare barbecue. Chef Wendy came to me because she wanted to increase her knowledge while improving her preparation of America’s cuisine to astonish her clients. Well, I aim to please!

Wendy’s first day began with us paying a visit to Bichelmeyer Meats (704 Cheyenne Avenue Kansas City, KS 66105-2087 - (913) 342-5945). Bichelmeyer’s is a butcher shop that specializes in processing meats the old fashioned way. Meats and specialty cuts are processed to order. Sausage of various kinds are made fresh daily along with many other menu items. We were met by the owner, Joe Bichelmeyer, who gave Wendy a personal tour. He shared with Wendy the history of Bichelmyer’s, how the meats are processed and sold, and the inner working of Bichelmeyer Meats. For lunch we ate at what many consider to be the best barbecue restaurant in the Kansas City region, Oklahoma Joes (3002 W 47th Ave, Kansas City, KS 66103, ). There Wendy was given a personal tour of the kitchen before enjoying an excellent representation of what barbecue should taste like! After lunch it was time to get to work! Wendy and I began our one on one by learning how to create and balance her own signature “rub” or seasoning. From there Wendy trimmed and seasoned ribs with her signature rub and my rub just for the sake of comparison. We then discussed cooking times and temperatures as well as wood characteristics and flavoring. In to the smoker the ribs went. Wendy was a very enthusiastic student. While we were waiting for the ribs to cook I showed Wendy what to look for when selecting both briskets and pork butts. She then trimmed both meats for tomorrow’s lesson. After a little Q&A it was time to take the ribs out of the smoker. “Well how did she do?” you ask? Check the pictures below. It’s time to wrap things up for day one and get some rest.

Day two was met with Wendy’s lustrous smile. Today’s lesson began with us focusing on cooking times and temperatures for brisket and pork butts. We also discussed which herbs and seasonings best compliment each meat as well as wood pairings. In to the smoker they went. It’s time for a pop quiz, so on to Restaurant Depot we went. While we toured Restaurant Depot I had Wendy to select various cuts of meat and explain to me why she had chosen them. She passed with flying colors. All of this food is making me hungry. Let's eat lunch! Today we went to the one barbecue restaurant that exemplifies Kansas City barbecue, Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue (1727 Brooklyn Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64127-2530, ). Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue can trace its descent from Henry Perry, the "father of Kansas City barbecue", who in 1908 began serving smoked meats to workers in the Garment District in Downtown Kansas City from an alley stand. Perry moved to the 18th Street and Vine neighborhood where he sold barbecue for 25 cents a slab from a trolley barn at 19th and Highland. After enjoying lunch we were met by the current owner Bryant’s, Gary Berbiglia. Gary was more than happy to give Wendy a personal tour of the restaurant and share his wisdom about the barbecue restaurant business with her. Once again it was time to get back to work. After Wendy checked on the cooking progress of the briskets and pork butt, we created recipes for, cooked and bottled several barbecue sauces (Raspberry Chipotle, Kansas City style, Mustard Barbecue sauce, North Carolina Vinegar sauce, and Wendy’s own personal sauce). Once the sauces were bottled we mixed seasoning for homemade Italian and Texas Hot link style sausages. We mixed and refrigerated the sausage which will be cooked during tomorrow’s lessons. It is time to take the briskets and butts out of the smoker. Let’s evaluate the finished product. Wendy did well for this to be her first time cooking both meats. We have reached the point that we need to clean up and get some rest. Day two has come to an end.

Day three. Has Wendy had her fill of this thing that we love named barbecue? No! Once again I was greeted by her courteous and infectious smile. We began our day with a refresher of the information Wendy has learned so far. Wendy trimmed, seasoned, and placed ribs in the smoker. This was done to review and solidify what she learned on day one. We moved on to discussing cooking times and temperatures, flavor profiles, and wood pairings for chicken. Wendy then trimmed and seasoned chicken. After that, you guessed it, in to the smoker the chicken went. From there we created a recipe for barbecue beans. After mixing in the seasonings and burnt ends from yesterday’s brisket, Wendy put the beans in the smoker along with the sausage that she created the day before. It was time for more Q&A (I did not want to leave any stone unturned). We have reached the time for the final exam. How did everything turn out? Excellent! I am proud to say that Wendy Boumo Chok is now a graduate of Paul Kirk’s Pitmasters School of Barbecue!