Interview with Brian Misko

Brian Misko has competed in Barbq competitions across Canada and the United States, his team will be competing at The first annual Cloverdale Cowboy Cook Off in conjunction with the Cloverdale Rodeo on May 20, 2012.

Would You Say that you specialize in BarbQ cooking on a Grill?

I specialize in, I guess you could say, outdoor cooking.  I often grill things such as steaks, chicken or fish however my smokers and suite of charcoal cooking devices allow me to do slow-smoke barbecue – something quite different from grilling.

What got you into cooking?

Well, there’s kind of two answers to that question. The first is travel.  That is, I traveled frequently to the southern US for a number of years and that provided me exposure to some bbq restaurants.  Once I tasted real bbq it was like a life-changing experience…  the flavors can be overwhelming and unlike anything else I have ever had.

The second answer could simply be that I like to eat good food and that combined with an analytical mind means I want to break it all down into the steps and make it myself.  Needless to say and after a lot of practice, you can achieve the result you want.

When did you enter your first Barbq competition and how did you do?

The first competition was at the Canadian Festival of Chili and BBQ which was held at BC Place in May of 2005.   We packed up enough gear, patio tables, chairs, tents and whatever else we thought we needed and brought it to our cooking site.  The fleet of vehicles to take far-too-much stuff there was a sight to be seen. None the less, for our first competition our team did very well.  We won awards in two of four categories – 6th in ribs and 3rd in chicken. Those two ribbons are proudly encased and hung in our house.

How did you become a leader in Barbq competitions?

Since our first competition, we have traveled to many different events and are in the proud position to declare that we have never come home without at least one ribbon or trophy.  I think that with practice comes results.  Our team indeed practices and thoroughly enjoys the food.  I think that has provided us with results.  More importantly though is that new cooks or teams are now keen to learn from me…  I too started with a mentor way back when (Ron Shewchuk) and asked many questions.  He was supportive and always seemingly willing to provide some guidance.  There are a few cooks today that are learning from me – subtle changes to their cook plan or spices or just to validate that they are in the right direction.  And I do have to admit, it is really rewarding to see their names called out at a competition when they get their first ribbons.

How did you get into the Sauces business?

After finishing a tray for the judges at a bbq competition, we sample to the public our extra meat.  Once sampling, we of course used our hand-made Apple Butter BBQ Sauce that we crafted for the competition.  People would ask, “so, where can we buy some of this sauce?”  It took a while to get it together but we finally did and put our first sauce in a jar in 2007.  Since then we have won awards all over North America for that sauce and have expanded our sauce line to four sauces and one spice rub.  This year, 2012, we have added Ontario distribution to our coverage and hopefully will be able to declare that our sauces are coast-to-coast in Canada.

What is the best way to cook a steak?

Beef steaks are an awesome meal from the grill.  If the beef is of great quality, well aged and cut, it really only needs a simple treatment of salt and pepper for me.  The point is to let the natural flavor of the beef to shine.  I’d cook a great steak on high heat to provide a crust and then indirectly finish it to a perfect medium-rare temperature.  That and a couple of grilled vegetables and a glass of wine is an awesome meal.

What are some of your favorite foods to grill?

Ever since I started doing bbq tips on Global TV, the development of recipes has been endless.  I have thrown pretty much anything that you cook in the kitchen at the grill or a smoker.  Pastries, bread, cookies, vegetables, fruit, game-meats and the usual suspects of chicken, beef and pork have all been tackled. If you ask me a “go-to” dish for a Tuesday night, I can’t turn down a decent burger or some chicken wings.

What 5 Ingredients would we find in your Home pantry?

Awesome question! A collection of different flavored salts, a fantastic pepper mill that I brought back from Germany in 1989, dried savory from our garden that I seem to add to everything lately like eggs and sauces, canned tomatoes with the simple ingredient of tomatoes, nothing else and coconut milk for when the need arises to make a sauce.

When eating out in restaurants what type of food do you like to eat?

Usually we venture off to things that we don’t cook at home…  like Chinese dim sum or fish and chips.

Have you ever owned your own restaurant?

Even after cooking with some of Vancouver’s finest chef’s at the 2010 Winter Olympics who all have multi-award winning restaurants, I have never worked in a restaurant kitchen.  Never owned one, never worked in one.  I am a self-taught, award-winning chef that can put on a plate of fantastic food. Besides that, I recognize that I can cook but to operate a restaurant, I know that’s not me.

What’s Next on your Culinary Journey?

I am actively seeking a publisher for my collection of grilling and bbq recipes thus a cookbook is on the agenda. There are also more products that we would like to add to our sauce and spice line.  Between those two items, that should keep our agenda full for a couple of years.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My family is my inspiration.  I think that sharing a meal with your family, friends and neighbors is both rewarding and emotionally fulfilling.  I have joked while teaching a cooking class that it doesn’t matter what you are cooking – it could even be toast – the point is to get people together and to share conversation, face-to-face time – that is what food is all about.  However that said, having really tasty stuff while you do it just adds to the experience.

What is your favourite food that you cook at home?

Believe it or not, taking on the task of emptying the fridge of left-overs and crafting a dish in a skillet.  Some are well, not so good while many have been really good. Most have sauces as part of the equation and most are put of top of a starch such as rice, potatoes or a pasta.  That to me is something of a challenge… taking a bunch of things and crafting a dish out of it.

Which 3 wines or beers do you enjoy personally?

A solid, well-aged zinfandel is always on my wine roster and a Rickard’s Dark can be found right behind that followed by a chilled shot of Jack Daniels. How’s that for diversity!  Oh and a dark Caribbean rum can always be a choice as well.

If there was one thing you could do as a chef that you have not already done, what would it be?

Completing a stage at a restaurant and really soaking up the finer points of plating.  To me plating is an art that is not easy, really portrays the creativity of the chef and captivates their ability to “get everything together”.  That is something that I’d like to do.


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