by Pitmaster Jimi James
Today I bring you an interview with a pitmaster buddy from Bloomington, Indiana. He just happens to make some killer BBQ and is actually making waves in the BBQ world.
Here’s 10 Questions with the Pitmaster Dave White of GREAT WHITE SMOKE!!!!
For a bit of a “teaser”, check out some of his creations.
1. Pitmaster Jimi: How did you get started in BBQ?
Pitmaster Dave: Our family has always cooked out and had fish fries in the summertime. When my son was born with Trisomy 21, a Ventricular Septal Defect, Laryngomalacia, and a host of other health issues, we decided to keep his mama home with him. This meant she’d have to resign from a job she had held for 12 years. This also meant we’d be down to one income. So we started cooking for extra money as a fundraiser, and it just took off from there with people asking for us to be out more.
2. Pitmaster Jimi: How did you come up with the name for your company?
Pitmaster Dave: The name is a funny story. We wanted to keep Graison in the name somehow. My Dad and I had been calling him the “Great White” due to his initials. People would come to our stand and tell us the could smell our smoke for blocks, and it smelled “great” also. So it just clicked one day, “Great White Smoke”– even though traditionally white smoke is undesirable, and it’s blue smoke that you want for that low and slow cook. The people loved the name, so we just ran with it!
3. Pitmaster Jimi: Please tell me about Graison, and I’m guessing the charity you have.
Pitmaster Dave: When we got home after a month at Riley Hospital for Children, our savings was hurting pretty bad. Jessica, my wife, had been off due to bedrest, and when we went to Riley, I couldn’t pull myself away so I was off work for a month. We tried selling silicone wristbands at a local Kroger grocery store, asking people to “Give for Graison.” Kroger asked us after the first day if we wanted to try a cookout, so we jumped on the opportunity. People started calling the store asking, “When will that BBQ family be back?”. So Kroger asked us to come every weekend. That prompted me to call the local Health Board and start the long process of building our Cabin on Wheels to meet county specs and regulations. As Graison grew in his first year, the VSD (hole in his heart) slowly closed up, and he started to shed doctors slowly. (We are currently down from about 9 specialist to 3-4, so Jessica has been able to keep me in line with the books and maintain his therapy and appointments.) We have never forced this thing, and though it hasn’t always been easy, I truly believe we are being led in the directions we are meant to go. We just try to answer the call and grasp the opportunities we have been blessed with.
4. Pitmaster Jimi: What do you offer on your menu?
Pitmaster Dave: Originally, we sold ribs, brats, burgers, all-beef hot dogs, pulled pork and cookies. Once we built the food truck, for some reason people only ordered the pulled pork. It would sell out everyday, and other stuff would just lay in the chafing dishes. So we took our pulled pork and expanded with four more signature sandwiches.
5. Pitmaster Jimi: How has the public responded to what your offering on your menu?
Pitmaster Dave: We have sold out of the pulled pork every single time we’ve been out– ranging anywhere from 30 to 70 pounds in an afternoon! We rarely make it to or through a dinner service. We have plenty of regulars, and the catering demands have been rolling in so much that we had to take on an office to facilitate professional meeting space to not only sell our product but to maintain organization in scheduling and bookkeeping.
6. Pitmaster Jimi: Where are some locations folks can come and try Great White Smoke?
Pitmaster Dave: We primarily set up at an Indiana location on Highway 45 West called Melton Orchard and Country Store. It’s right on a major commuter highway going both East and West. We are going to start setting up there everyday that we aren’t doing an event.
We also recently partnered with Indiana University Athletics and were a part of the College World Series Regional Tournament here in Bloomington, Indiana. We will be a part of 6 Hoosier home football games this fall as well! The publicity from the baseball alone has been HUGE for us. People can like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to keep up with our locations.
7. Pitmaster Jimi: You offer 4 or 5 awesome culinary creations with your pulled pork. Please explain each of them to me.
Pitmaster Dave: The Mötley Q is our pulled pork sandwich with Pepperjack and loaded down with jalapeños. The Bar-B Cuban has Swiss cheese and is covered in pickles. The Creamy Carolina Q is loaded down with a cole slaw topping, and last but certainly not least, is the Hawaiian Q which has crushed pineapples and diced red onions on it. Our offerings have separated us from all the other places in town who all do the exact same menu as one another.
8. Pitmaster Jimi: In the world of BBQ, there are so many ways pitmasters are making pulled pork– from brines, injections, rubs, woods used, rubs used, to wrap or not to wrap. Please, if you can, give our readers an insight as to how you prepare your pulled pork.
Pitmaster Dave: We’ve played around with a lot of styles. Our sauce came from Jessica’s old Crock Pot pork roast recipe, and we’ve basically combined my wood selection and technique to get to where we are. If I were to give it all away, she might kill me, but here is the general direction we go…
We use a rub that is made up of some of her sauce ingredients– things like brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I cook in aluminum pans over wood– either cherry, hickory, or a blend of the two. I also use a lump charcoal for sustainable heat. Once the initial lump burns off, the hickory does a good job of maintaining. As far as temperature goes, we can go for a long time at 225 degrees, or knock it out quick at around 325 degrees (like Myron Mixon does). I think either way the key is to pay attention, and when the shoulder bone slides out effortlessly, you’ve got a winner. (If you let it go too long, you’ll end up with dry “pork peanut butter,” and that ain’t no good.)
Once it’s pulled, we finish it in the same pans with Jessica’s vinegar-based sauce.
Here is my thought on why that works so well. Fruit juices are water-based and subject to evaporation. Vinegar, when heated and mixed with the rendered fat drippings, creates an oil-type juice that hangs around much longer. People always ask how we keep it moist so long…Bingo! You just heard it here.
I wouldn’t describe our pork as sweet, so we offer sauce on the side if that’s the flavor profile a customer wants. But ours is best described as Savory Hoosier Q. Our sauce brings out that natural pork flavor you want in pulled pork without being served plain and risking the moisture.
9. Pitmaster Jimi: You just recently started your business. What is your plan for Great White Smoke in the next 5 years?
Pitmaster Dave: The way things are going in the first few months we already are showing a need for more staff and an additional truck/cabin. I am having to turn away request for events due to lack of both of these. So by the end of the year, we are moving toward a local fleet and have already started the process of trying to obtain a brick-front restaurant. For years 2-5, the goals are to expand to cities within the state of Indiana and, with any luck, the region!
Wherever there is a need for our brand of BBQ, we are willing to answer the call. — Pitmaster Dave White
10. Pitmaster Jimi: Why should folks who love BBQ come try what you’re cooking? And are you offering regional versions of BBQ? If so, what regions? And finally, how is your BBQ offering something unique?
Pitmaster Dave: I think we have just improvised to try and make our customers happy and to give them a different look at BBQ than they are accustomed to. Our base sauce would fit more closely to the hearts of a Carolina crowd with that vinegar base. Also, the Creamy Carolina Q is a traditional southern-style sandwich. The Mötley Q was a sandwich that I thought many people I know would enjoy, and boy, was I right! The Cuban was a spin-off one of my timeless favorite sandwiches a “Cuban.” Most people in this region like their pulled pork served with pickles and onions, so this one is a favorite and I think the Swiss is just icing on the cake for people. It’s that “Wow! This is different!” factor that makes these sandwiches linger in people’s heads. The Hawaiian Q just came to me when I realized we were hitting regional taste buds, so it was an easy one. Plus, I love Hawaiian pizzas so it was a no-brainier. We currently have a few more in the works– like I’m dabbling with a Mexican blend that will be the Carnita Q.
When the brick-front opens, we will have all the traditional things people seek at a BBQ joint like tips, burnt ends, bone-in chicken, and so on. But we’ll always have our signature sandwich menu for the people who want that unique experience.
So that’s it. My interview with this great pitmaster. Now, go check Dave and Great White Smoke out and tell ‘em Pitmaster Jimi James sent ya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stay hungry! Until next time…