GAYLORD — “Other places serve BBQ. We are a smokehouse,” said Kellen Moore, head chef and co-owner, along with Ian Murphy, of The Iron Pig Smokehouse, 143 W. Main. St.
And Moore knows a thing or two about smoking meat. All day, every day, he spends quality time with “Old Hickory,” the name he 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 out 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 hard wood 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.”
The low and slow process that infuses meat with flavor keeps customers coming back for pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, brisket and many other favorites.
“Our pulled pork sandwich is our best seller, but we get the best compliments and reviews on our brisket,” Murphy said. “People try our brisket and they can hardly keep it on their forks because it’s so tender.”
While Old Hickory slowly works its magic with the meat, Moore and his crew in The Iron Pig Smokehouse kitchen prepare savory side dishes including smoked baked beans, and mac n’ cheese made in house with five cheeses.
“And we make our own dry rub that has 14 or 15 spices,” Moore said. “Our coleslaw is made fresh every day and we bake our own bread fresh every day. We also have great burgers, they are a 50/50 blend of prime beef brisket and chuck.”
The Iron Pig Smokehouse also stocks a full bar, serving specialty cocktails, draft beers and draft cider. Murphy noted “flights” have also become popular.
“Flights are four mini samples of a cocktail,” he said. “We do bloody Mary flights, mimosa flights, margarita flights and more.”
Murphy said The Iron Pig Smokehouse is a “fast casual” eatery that offers dining room and take out service, as well as catering for parties up to 250.
“You can get your food as quick or a slow as you want,” he said.
Liz Forreider frequents The Iron Pig Smokehouse for the food and the atmosphere.
“I always feel like I am among friends,” she said. “And the food is amazing — the wings are my favorite. If you like smoked food, this is the place to be.”
Murphy said that while he runs the day-to-day operations at The Iron Pig Smokehouse, his wife, Keri, manages the bar, and Moore is the “BBQ genius,” who creates and develops his own unique recipes and menu and manages the kitchen.
“It’s my job to get people here, its Kellen’s job to keep them coming back,” Ian Murphy said.
Moore said he is happy to be at the “back of the house” with Old Hickory.
“I love being in the kitchen — I love cooking it all and making a good looking plate of food,” he said. “And I get fulfillment employing people too.”
Murphy said The Iron Pig Smokehouse employs a staff of 14, and will need more workers as the busy summer season approaches.
“We have a great team here, we are blessed,” he said. “And we are part of the downtown scene. We are grateful to Gary Scott and Go North Properties. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
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 last summer, 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.