With barbecue joints springing up around the city, it can be difficult to know where to start eating. The BBQ Collective, created by husband and wife Jeffrey Wright and Mathurot Chuladul, began in August 2015 and has taken residence at The Hop at West One.
Their menu is a carnivore’s dream – buttermilk chicken, pulled pork sandwiches and hot link sausages, to name a few – and the cooking methods come straight from America.
Pitmaster Jeffrey Wright told us about the history of The BBQ Collective, smoke pits, and why their sauce is named after a Korean War veteran.
Why are you called The BBQ Collective?
We went on a BBQ research tour in America a couple of years ago, visiting as many reputable establishments as possible to learn about their styles and techniques, and to affirm or dispel our understanding of what makes a great barbecue. It became apparent how passionate and open everyone was to sharing their knowledge with us. We were invited back to see their pit and shown how they smoked their meat. We felt very much part of a collective towards the end of our tour, and thus The BBQ Collective was born, to respect and honour all the great pit masters we met on the road who shared their know-how with us.
Do you have any fun tales from your trip?
We met the legendary Wilber Shirley of Wilber’s Barbecue in North Carolina on our 2014 BBQ road trip. Wilber is a Korean War veteran who opened his establishment in 1962, serving the best hush puppies and chopped pork we’ve ever had. He showed us his scrapbook clippings and had his son-in-law give us a tour of their 52-year-old smoke pit, which has been fuelled by the same pile of fire since they opened. It inspired us to create a homemade North Carolina-style barbecue sauce and name it after Wilber.
Why did you collaborate with The Hop?
We have known Jamie Lawson, Managing Director of Ossett Brewery, which owns The Hop, for over 15 years and talked about doing a project together. Once we saw the space at The Hop we were hooked. We then fell in love with Sheffield, so we couldn’t be happier with how the collaboration turned out.
How do you cook your food?
Most of our meat is sourced locally from South Yorkshire and we spend a lot of time tending to the fire to get the right amount of heat and smoke. For us it’s all about getting it right, from the quality of the smoked meat to the freshness of our side dishes and the uniqueness of our sauces, all of which are served on the side. BBQ is really about the meat, not the sauce.
What’s your favourite dish on the menu?
The pork spare ribs are, for me, the holy grail of BBQ. They are a thin, multi-muscled and complicated cut of meat, which requires a specific approach to both trimming and smoking. It’s the cut of meat that I spend most of my time focusing on, and I think we have the best pork ribs in the UK. Also, our hush puppies (fried corn fritters) with maple butter and hot sauce are a decadent treat. I eat pork ribs and hush puppies almost every day!
Words: Heyla Arbabha
Images courtesy of The BBQ Collective