Barry Sorkin, a lanky, clean-cut, former IT guy, proves you don’t need to be a grizzled, soulful sage to make great barbecue. Â With lines snaking out the door at Smoque, Sorkin and his crew have quickly established themselves as generals of Chicago’s ‘cue guard.
While traveling around the country, the Kendall College grad garnered a trove of tips from some of the best pit masters around; his smoked meat, including a moist brisket that recalls the legendary version at Ruby’s in Austin, Texas, achieves smoky nirvana.
While he’s not afraid to break rules, Sorkin is committed to honoring classic techniques and synthesizing his lessons into his own take on barbecue.
Q. What do you wish you could change or pickle about the Chicago restaurant/food scene?
A. Chicagoans have an appreciation for food at all levels. Â There’s an understanding that food doesn’t have to be fancy or exotic to be great.
Q. What would your last meal be?
A. I think I’ve had enough barbecue in the last six months to hold me over into the afterlife. Â If I were going to die tomorrow, I might just go for a couple of Chicago-style hot dogs — natural casing.
Q. Where do you eat/drink before/after a shift?
A. I try to keep drinking before a shift to a minimum, but after a shift, I frequently stop by McNamara’s on Irving Park for a pint of Harp.
Q. What’s the can’t-miss dish at Smoque?
A. Everyone who comes in should try the brisket.
Q. What should we know about Smoque that we probably don’t?
A. I’d like people to know that when we run out of brisket or pulled pork, it’s not because we didn’t order enough food. Â It’s a matter of physical capacity. Â We cook our briskets and pork shoulders for 14 plus hours, which means we get one batch per day.
Smoque; 3800 North Pulaski Road # 2, Chicago (773) 545-7427