YLORD — Kellen Moore, pitmaster and co-owner of Iron Pig Smokehouse, is no stranger to downtown Gaylord. His family has deep ties to the community.
Inspired by his Grandmother Moore, Kellen began cooking old recipes from his childhood.
“I was cooking a lot of my grandma’s recipes and stuff,” he said. “It was just a lot of fun. When I moved out to San Diego, I worked for Starbucks kind of worked myself up to a management position there. But throughout the whole time, I was just doing a lot of home cooking. I had a couple of friends who are chefs in San Diego. They helped hone my skills a little bit. I moved back to, I started working at a barbecue place west of town.”
“Barbecue wasn’t really one of the things that I ever really touched. I came home, and (BBQ) was just something that I fell into helping (Lou Cyriluk, owner of Louie Louie’s). His knowledge paired with my love of cooking really helped me develop my own flavors.”
As fate would have it, Gary Scott of Go North Properties and Ian Murphy were working on an unrelated project and Scott thought Murphy and Moore would make a perfect pair. Scott was indeed correct, because two years later The Iron Pig Smokehouse is going strong and getting better every day.
Murphy said that while he runs the day-to-day operations at The Iron Pig and his wife, Keri, manages the bar, Moore is the “BBQ genius,” who creates and develops his own unique recipes and menu and manages the kitchen.
All day, every day, he spends quality time with “The Rock,” the name Moore affectionately has given his smoker.
“We smoke brisket — up to 60 pounds a day — also ribs, pulled pork, kielbasa, chicken legs and thighs and salmon for our salmon Caesar salad,” he said.
Moore said one of the secrets of his exceptionally tasty BBQ is in the wood.
“We use locally sourced cherry wood because the hardwood burns slowly and evenly, and it’s little sweeter,” he said. “It’s low and slow. You always have to plan ahead — the big cuts of meat can take 16 hours.”
“I love the flavors. There’s so much more you can do good than just traditional southern barbecue. That’s what I’ve really tried to do here. We have five different styles of tacos on the menu. That’s not necessarily Deep South barbecue,” Moore said.
The Iron Pig has big plans for the future. This summer there is a series of wine pairing dinners as well as a bourbon barrel aged focus dinner with BLis Gourmet (put us on the list for this one). They also have a huge line up for Alpenfest so get ready to rock out at the Pig this festival season.
Moore said that since returning home to Gaylord from California in 2014, he was looking for an opportunity to showcase his passion and talent for cooking. Teaming up with the Murphys and opening The Iron Pig Smokehouse has been a dream come true.
“I saw that Gaylord was making a comeback and I wanted to be part of it,” he said. “And it has exceeded all of my expectations. It’s amazing!”
The Iron Pig Smokehouse is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Call (989) 448-2065 or visit the restaurant at www.ironpigsmoke.com or on Facebook.