UK BBQ Mag Summer 2016 - Page 39

We wanted to show that you can eat this food in a polished environment. So we took the idea of having a bohemian New Orleans-style bar vibe. Our dining room is going to age very well and I can’t wait to see it in 10 years from now.

As for the food, we are American owned and operated, so we’re naturally authentic. We take the love and care where other operators in this genre just don’t bother. We don’t feel the need to go over the top and have all you can eat wings night, or even to offer french fries. I love fries, but the best

joints I love simply don’t offer them.

I believe it’s these small sensitivities that set us apart from others in the genre.

Naturally authentic’ is a great way of putting it, and it’s interesting to hear you talk in terms of the longevity integral to the style and design of Shotgun in this time when ‘makeovers’ and relaunches are so common. So you plan for Shotgun to remain a real long term fixture in the West London eating scene? no matter where else your own path leads in terms of other ventures?

I think the restaurant has all the hallmarks of a classic restaurant. At the moment we’re taking it day by day, focusing on the food and the guest experience. I think that’s the best way for us to win the

longevity we’re after.

One of the things that comes across very strongly with your food is the stories it seems to be telling, both I guess from back in Mississippi, but also about twists and adventures that you must’ve picked up along the way, in what’s been a wide ranging culinary career so far.

How would you describe the challenges in bringing a fresh take on some long standing classic dishes, whilst remaining still clear and respectful of their origins? As it seems to be a line you’re walking quite confidently.

We cook what we love to eat, and season accordingly. If I don’t like it, we just won’t serve it. My job is to keep the classics on the straight and narrow. I’m the compass. But I fully trust the rest of my team to embellish and have fun with the menu.

Sometimes we may gripe about a dish that I want to keep on and they might want to replace, but we accomplish the majority through teamwork. That is certainly a trait that makes us different.

We collaborate within the kitchen, which is something I took away from my own mentors and former bosses.

But the challenge of approaching a new cut of meat or a new dish is the same at any level. First, we focus on flavour.

We stay within the boundaries of the genre, but we remain open minded to allowing other influences to interject if it makes us better.

There are just a few things that I won’t abide as a way to develop flavour or texture in our kitchen.

Take sous vide, for example. We may use that to infuse, but we would never use it cook meat.

I want my team to know how to cook instinctually, especially when it comes to smoking. Trust me,

I’ve had my fair share of arguments on this one.

This strikes me as a particularly interesting approach, combining and encouraging innovative,

imaginative experimentation within a fairly strict approach to the actual meat cooking, over wood. I

can really relate to this personally in my own food approach. Do you think important skills are

perhaps at risk of being lost in kitchen with an over reliance on the push button gizmos so much a

part of the modern(ist) approach?

In cooking, the foundation is always crumbling, as (both good and bad) trends emerge. But let’s not

forget this can be a positive thing as it pushes the creative edge further out.

Modernisation of equipment is a good thing, for instance, when it comes to hot holding. The

departure for me is where you begin to pull the wool over your customers eyes. That’s simply

dishonest, and you can taste the difference.

On the weekend of my visit to Shotgun, I happened to read an AA Gill piece about the need for

Chefs to be taking a step back, in favour of a sense of the whole place, staff and atmosphere getting

it’s fair crack of the whip in the dining out experience. I remarked to my companion when we came

to Kingly Street, how this appeared to be exactly what was going on at Shotgun; nothing too

Cheffy and a really good balance well executed dishes with the overall feel of the place, the drinks,

the team and the décor. Is this something you’re keen to push?

The bottom line is, some chefs should be taking liberties and some shouldn’t with their cooking.

And I guess Mr. Gill is the self appointed appraiser of who shouldn’t. God help us all!

Ha! and do you think the public will generally vote with their feet as a more democratic way of

culling off those who probably shouldn’t? presumably there will be chefs who get the hint and those

that refuse to!

There’s no hint, the message comes loud and clear when the house is empty.

Look, chefs have been shut behind closed kitchen doors their entire lives. I don’t blame some of

them for wanting to step out into the dining room a little more often. But that doesn’t come from an

egotists position on the chef’s behalf. The dining room is where the action is, and it’s where they can

see how well they’re doing, enjoy their guests experience more first hand, and even chat with them.

More and more chefs have become owners of their restaurants lately, and at much younger ages. It’s

natural they’re going to trickle into other areas of operation.

Having worn the hat of chef and also now chef/proprietor are you enjoying being across all aspects?

It’s certainly not for the faint of heart!

Your menu clearly shows a love of all things pig, which I can relate to! but clearly you also care

about how things are cooked and the art and craft of real BBQ. I know you have a trailer offset, and

saw the custom smoker in the kitchens at Shotgun and I also noticed that the Southern Pride was a

proper log fueled model. How important to you is it to keep that relationship between meat, smoke

and fire at its purest, in order to turn out the best food?

It’s absolutely everything. Whole log cooking is the only way to do it right. We are in love with the

craft of bbq. That’s the reason my guys show up to work everyday.

For a team of 8-10 chefs, at least half of them rotate around the pit. They are craftsmen, and they

want to pursue their craft in the purest possible forms. For bbq, that means you’re cooking with a

live fire.

You get an Amen! from me on that.

I see comments a lot in on line debates in defence of gasBBQ about how people prefer well cooked

food from a Gas cooker than badly cooked food from wood/charcoal. Would you say, even for the

home BBQ enthusiast, that learning the skills of real fire control are fundamental to everything else

they will then go on to do? and that if they get that right, good food will follow without the need to

resort to having a gas stove in their garden?

It takes years to understand how to make and control a proper fire. It’s our nature to take the path of

least resistance.

You clearly have a great team at Shotgun and in a brief chat with the Chefs, it was clear that they

had fully bought in to the quite clean and quite pure approach to the cookery, subtle spicing and a

‘from scratch’ approach when building flavours, that was evident across the menu and even in the

rubs and sauces. Is this integrity with ingredients something reinforced in your own approach, from

places like Per Se and Noma? And is instilling this in your own team, to safeguard the integrity of

the dishes a priority? which is again, something often missing in a BBQ scene, drenched in brash

MSG fueled rubs and sticky sauces?

We pursue cooking with honesty and integrity, sometimes to our own physical and mental

detriment. Good chefs have never taken the easy way out.

The 'from scratch’ approach is just the top line description when the bottom line is that we want to

understand everything we are doing. To get there, we have to start from nothing and build up.

That’s our approach to both recipes and training in the kitchen.

and can’t you just taste it! from that glaze on the Pigs ear to the seasoning on the lamb breast. Do

you think that this approach from good restaurants and also from quality street food outfits, where

it’s also a common approach, may help raise the dining public’s expectations?

As all ships rise with the tide, including diner’s expectations. It only takes one bite to see that

someone is doing a better job than the others.

Lastly, as far as the lexicon of Southern cooking is concerned, moving forward is there more you

want to share? Will you get West London really eating with its hands? If so, are there a couple of

dishes that you would love to see gain traction here?

I love a 'meat and three’ and Nashville hot chicken will eventually come around I’m sure. I don’t

know if I’ll be the one to do it, but it would certainly help make London feel more like home.

Sounds good! the Uk has always been about comfort food! We can never have enough hot chicken

to sell when its on the menu at events so there is clearly a demand that echoes the wider surge of

interest in Southern foodways. Is London beginning to feel like home for you?

I’m not ready to give up my American passport yet, but we feel very welcome here.

Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me, definitely looking forward to my next visit. Oh,

and I can’t help but notice the gap where a custom blend sausage should be on the menu, but maybe

we can talk about this further? :)

You know what, you’re exactly right! Though we did just put together our version of ‘sausage and

cheese plate’ onto the starter section: Blood Sausage in Cheddar Fondue.

Always happy to talk sausage blends!

Thank so much for this chat and I can recommend all of our readers come and see for themselves

just how good real bbq in beautiful surroundings can be.

Thanks John, My pleasure. All the best.

Shotgun.

26 KINGLY STREET, SOHO, LONDON, W1B 5QD

0203 137 7252

INFO@SHOTGUNBBQ.COM

We wanted to show that you can eat this food in a polished environment. So we took the idea of having a bohemian New Orleans-style bar vibe. Our dining room is going to age very well and I can’t wait to see it in 10 years

from now.

As for the food, we are American owned and operated, so we’re naturally authentic. We take the

love and care where other operators in this genre just don’t bother. We don’t feel the need to go over the top and have all you can eat wings night, or even to offer french fries. I love fries, but the best

joints I love simply don’t offer them.

I believe it’s these small sensitivities that set us apart from others in the genre.

’Naturally authentic’ is a great way of putting it, and it’s interesting to hear you talk in terms of the longevity integral to the style and design of Shotgun in this time when ‘makeovers’ and relaunches are so common. So you plan for Shotgun to remain a real long term fixture in the West London eating scene? no matter where else your own path leads in terms of other ventures?

I think the restaurant has all the hallmarks of a classic restaurant. At the moment we’re taking it day by day, focusing on the food and the guest experience. I think that’s the best way for us to win the

longevity we’re after.

One of the things that comes across very strongly with your food is the stories it seems to be telling, both I guess from back in Mississippi, but also about twists and adventures that you must’ve picked

up along the way, in what’s been a wide ranging culinary career so far. How would you describe the challenges in bringing a fresh take on some long standing classic dishes, whilst remaining still clear

and respectful of their origins? As it seems to be a line you’re walking quite confidently

We cook what we love to eat, and season accordingly. If I don’t like it, we just won’t serve it. My job is to keep the classics on the straight and narrow. I’m the compass. But I fully trust the rest of my team to embellish and have fun with the menu. Sometimes we may gripe about a dish that I want to keep on and they might want to replace, but

we accomplish the majority through teamwork. That is certainly a trait that makes us different. We collaborate within the kitchen, which is something I took away from my own mentors and former

bosses.

But the challenge of approaching a new cut of meat or a new dish is the same at any level. First, we

focus on flavour. We stay within the boundaries of the genre, but we remain open minded to

allowing other influences to interject if it makes us better.

There are just a few things that I won’t abide as a way to develop flavour or texture in our kitchen.

Take sous vide, for example. We may use that to infuse, but we would never use it cook meat.

I want my team to know how to cook instinctually, especially when it comes to smoking.

Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of arguments on this one. This strikes me as a particularly interesting approach, combining and encouraging innovative,

imaginative experimentation within a fairly strict approach to the actual meat cooking, over wood. I

can really relate to this personally in my own food approach. Do you think important skills are

perhaps at risk of being lost in kitchen with an over reliance on the push button gizmos so much a

part of the modern(ist) approach?

In cooking, the foundation is always crumbling, as (both good and bad) trends emerge. But let’s not

forget this can be a positive thing as it pushes the creative edge further out.

Modernisation of equipment is a good thing, for instance, when it comes to hot holding. The

departure for me is where you begin to pull the wool over your customers eyes. That’s simply

dishonest, and you can taste the difference.

On the weekend of my visit to Shotgun, I happened to read an AA Gill piece about the need for

Chefs to be taking a step back, in favour of a sense of the whole place, staff and atmosphere getting

it’s fair crack of the whip in the dining out experience. I remarked to my companion when we came

to Kingly Street, how this appeared to be exactly what was going on at Shotgun; nothing too

Cheffy and a really good balance well executed dishes with the overall feel of the place, the drinks,

the team and the décor. Is this something you’re keen to push?

The bottom line is, some chefs should be taking liberties and some shouldn’t with their cooking.

And I guess Mr. Gill is the self appointed appraiser of who shouldn’t. God help us all!

Ha! and do you think the public will generally vote with their feet as a more democratic way of

culling off those who probably shouldn’t? presumably there will be chefs who get the hint and those

that refuse to!

There’s no hint, the message comes loud and clear when the house is empty.

Look, chefs have been shut behind closed kitchen doors their entire lives. I don’t blame some of

them for wanting to step out into the dining room a little more often. But that doesn’t come from an

egotists position on the chef’s behalf. The dining room is where the action is, and it’s where they can

see how well they’re doing, enjoy their guests experience more first hand, and even chat with them.

More and more chefs have become owners of their restaurants lately, and at much younger ages. It’s

natural they’re going to trickle into other areas of operation.

Having worn the hat of chef and also now chef/proprietor are you enjoying being across all aspects?

It’s certainly not for the faint of heart!

Your menu clearly shows a love of all things pig, which I can relate to! but clearly you also care

about how things are cooked and the art and craft of real BBQ. I know you have a trailer offset, and

saw the custom smoker in the kitchens at Shotgun and I also noticed that the Southern Pride was a

proper log fueled model. How important to you is it to keep that relationship between meat, smoke

and fire at its purest, in order to turn out the best food?

It’s absolutely everything. Whole log cooking is the only way to do it right. We are in love with the

craft of bbq. That’s the reason my guys show up to work everyday.

For a team of 8-10 chefs, at least half of them rotate around the pit. They are craftsmen, and they

want to pursue their craft in the purest possible forms. For bbq, that means you’re cooking with a

live fire.

You get an Amen! from me on that.

I see comments a lot in on line debates in defence of gasBBQ about how people prefer well cooked

food from a Gas cooker than badly cooked food from wood/charcoal. Would you say, even for the

home BBQ enthusiast, that learning the skills of real fire control are fundamental to everything else

they will then go on to do? and that if they get that right, good food will follow without the need to

resort to having a gas stove in their garden?

It takes years to understand how to make and control a proper fire. It’s our nature to take the path of

least resistance.

You clearly have a great team at Shotgun and in a brief chat with the Chefs, it was clear that they

had fully bought in to the quite clean and quite pure approach to the cookery, subtle spicing and a

‘from scratch’ approach when building flavours, that was evident across the menu and even in the

rubs and sauces. Is this integrity with ingredients something reinforced in your own approach, from

places like Per Se and Noma? And is instilling this in your own team, to safeguard the integrity of

the dishes a priority? which is again, something often missing in a BBQ scene, drenched in brash

MSG fueled rubs and sticky sauces?

We pursue cooking with honesty and integrity, sometimes to our own physical and mental

detriment. Good chefs have never taken the easy way out.

The 'from scratch’ approach is just the top line description when the bottom line is that we want to

understand everything we are doing. To get there, we have to start from nothing and build up.

That’s our approach to both recipes and training in the kitchen.

and can’t you just taste it! from that glaze on the Pigs ear to the seasoning on the lamb breast. Do

you think that this approach from good restaurants and also from quality street food outfits, where

it’s also a common approach, may help raise the dining public’s expectations?

As all ships rise with the tide, including diner’s expectations. It only takes one bite to see that

someone is doing a better job than the others.

Lastly, as far as the lexicon of Southern cooking is concerned, moving forward is there more you

want to share? Will you get West London really eating with its hands? If so, are there a couple of

dishes that you would love to see gain traction here?

I love a 'meat and three’ and Nashville hot chicken will eventually come around I’m sure. I don’t

know if I’ll be the one to do it, but it would certainly help make London feel more like home.

Sounds good! the Uk has always been about comfort food! We can never have enough hot chicken

to sell when its on the menu at events so there is clearly a demand that echoes the wider surge of

interest in Southern foodways. Is London beginning to feel like home for you?

I’m not ready to give up my American passport yet, but we feel very welcome here.

Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me, definitely looking forward to my next visit. Oh,

and I can’t help but notice the gap where a custom blend sausage should be on the menu, but maybe

we can talk about this further? :)

You know what, you’re exactly right! Though we did just put together our version of ‘sausage and

cheese plate’ onto the starter section: Blood Sausage in Cheddar Fondue.

Always happy to talk sausage blends!

Thank so much for this chat and I can recommend all of our readers come and see for themselves

just how good real bbq in beautiful surroundings can be.

Thanks John, My pleasure. All the best.

Shotgun.

26 KINGLY STREET, SOHO, LONDON, W1B 5QD

0203 137 7252

INFO@SHOTGUNBBQ.COM

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