Food of the Month April 2019: Take Home Packs from Smokey G's

Can’t get enough of Smokey G’s BBQ Joint’s delicious slow-cooked barbecue? Well, you’re in luck! Smokey G’s has figured out a way to preserve the tenderness and juiciness of their meats in carefully sealed packs for you to enjoy at home. 

The challenge they had to overcome was that meat would gradually dry out as soon as it’s cut. They needed to find a way to preserve the food and its flavours to be just as good as when customers are enjoying the barbecue at the Markets. Thankfully, they found a way. It was to vacuum-seal the meats. 

“We were getting a lot of requests to just wrap the meat up so that customers could take it home and have it for dinner that night or during the week,” says Smokey G’s BBQ Joint Owner Graeme Jarvis. “With our vacuum-sealed packs, we seal in all the juices, all the fat, all the flavour and then all the person has to do when they get home is just to gently warm them in boiling water. I hope to give as close to the barbecue experience that you would get if you were to come to the stall on any Sunday.”


“Our customers buy two or three packs for dinner parties that they’re having at home”


The meat packs are sealed in very durable plastic bags that only need to be immersed in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes. Boiling water doesn’t affect the plastic and it’s even better than heating the meat in an oven or a microwave since it prevents them from drying out.

At the moment, the take-home packs are available for the brisket and pork in Smokey G’s menu. They are looking to expand the pack options to ribs once a solution is available, and are constantly looking for new and innovative ideas for customers to enjoy the take-home packs at home.

Expect to receive a complimentary container of Smokey G’s Bourbon Barbecue Sauce with each take-home pack. All their side dishes from the coleslaw and ranch dressing to their special Smokey G’s Bourbon Barbecue Sauce are homemade. Nothing is store-bought. A bottle of Smokey G’s Bourbon Barbecue Sauce is also available for sale to enjoy at home.

“We’ve received very good feedback about the take-home packs,” says Graeme. “We offer quite generous samples during the day so you can try before you buy. We’re starting to get quite a few repeat customers that come and buy two or three packs for convenient quick dinners during the week or even dinner parties they’re having at home.” 

While we’re talking about the take-home packs, Graeme also told us about what motivated him to start Smokey G’s. He was inspired by the American style of barbecuing after spending time working in New York in the mid-2000s. “That style of food just didn’t exist in Australia,” says Graeme. “I couldn’t get the cuts of meat. I couldn’t get the barbecue, but eventual perseverance paid off. And here we are almost 20 years later – its popularity is really taking off”


“Here we are almost 20 years later – its popularity is really taking off”


One thing that truly makes Smokey G’s stand out is their style of cooking. It’s low and slow cooking with an offset stick smoker. Someone needs to be available to tend to the fire, turn the fire, and most importantly to make sure the right temperature is maintained for the duration of the cook. There’s a lot of attention to detail that goes into the end product.

“Anyone that appreciates barbecue, realises that someone’s been up for 12 hours tending the fire to give them that result,” says Graeme. “I guess the whole essence of American style barbecue boils down to [how] it was started by people who were time-rich and cash-poor. They could spend the time to cook for their family and friends for 12 hours. Barbecue, because of the time commitment and size of the cuts of meats used, is quite a communal activity. People purchased the best meat they could afford. That’s why you use briskets, that’s why you use pork shoulders. If you try and fry these kinds of meats, they’re just fatty, they’re sinewy, and there’s a lot of connective tissues because these are the muscles that work a lot in the animal that you use.

“So over 12 hours, all that connective tissue, all that fat renders down into something really quite beautiful. But it does take that time. So you tend to lose between 25 to 35 percent of your initial weight in moisture, and fat over the cooking process.”

In terms of their menu, Smokey G’s offers the meat trifecta: pork, beef, and chicken. Expect to taste all the staples of a Texas-style barbecue. Briskets, pork, sandwiches, meat variations, beef ribs, and pork ribs. They offer delicious fried chicken sandwiches, and chicken wings too.


“They’ve done everything they can to help me be a success”


Graeme moved to Canberra at the start of 2016. At Smokey G’s first event at the Old Bus Depot Markets, they had sold out within an hour. “We realised we were onto something,” says Graeme. “I remember our first few days. It was freezing cold. We certainly started in the depths of winter and worked our way through. 

In mid-2017, Smokey G’s moved to their current location at the back of the Markets at the food court. The big Smokey G’s sign is hard to miss when walking to the food court, as is the long line of hungry customers waiting to taste their delicious barbecue. “When you get someone that comes and says that this is like barbecue they get in Texas, that’s quite flattering,” says Graeme. “That is quite a nice complement to get when Americans recognise that the product you’re serving is equal to or if not better than what they get at home.”

We also asked Graeme about his experience at the Old Bus Depot Markets. “Everyone from the management down to the floor staff, when I had to move inside and start cooking onsite, they were very accommodating,” says Graeme. “They gave me that space which we converted into quite a workable market stall. They’ve done everything they can to help me be a success. They’ve absolutely put up zero roadblocks. In fact, they’ve just made it easier than what it ever could have been.”

Taste one of Canberra’s best barbecue at Smokey G’s BBQ Joint on Sundays at the Old Bus Depot Markets. Follow their page on Facebook @SmokeyGsBBQJoint to see all the delicious meats they’re cooking up.


As always, follow us on Facebook @OldBusDepotMarkets for the latest on Canberra’s Sunday Best.