While smokers have long been popular with restaurants, they are now making inroads with on-site operators as well. Southern Pride offers a full line of smokers, and President Jared Robertson can speak to this new trend.
Are you seeing more on-site food producers (such as food trucks and caterers) using smokers these days?
Jared Robertson: Yes, the value added to menu development and diversity is perfect for food trucks and caterers. Especially for caterers, since they benefit from having custom meals for different events. Barbecue has become very popular for weddings the past few years.
What sorts of items are you seeing them prepare in smokers?
JR: Traditional barbecue is ribs, chicken, beef brisket and pork. Over time, creativity has shown no limits. Operators have proven that you can add smoke to just about anything. Smoke ingredients for desserts, water to make smoked ice for cocktails, alligator, duck, prime rib, cheese…the list goes on and on. We’ve even heard of folks smoking bones for dog treats.
Do you think having a smoker can be a point of differentiation or selling point for a food truck or caterer?
JR: Absolutely, because there are so many different menu items to smoke and a variety of fruitwood or hardwood to manipulate the flavor profile. The flexibility in menu items, along with the quality of the product, makes it different than menus without smoked items. When you add the profitability created by offering smoked items, it’s a win-win for the operator and customers. Ground beef, chicken and shrimp make delicious tacos, but have you ever had a smoked brisket taco?
Why is your SRG-400 smoker a good choice for on-site food producers?
JR: The SRG-400 provides a lot of capacity for an incredibly small cabinet size, so it fits really well in food trucks and concession trailers. It is very competitively priced to our gas rotisseries of similar product capacity. The performance is also second to none. We received a patent on the unique airflow technology that creates incredibly consistent temperature throughout the cabinet. The standard cook and hold control on this model allows for selection of cook temperature, cook time, hold temperature and programming of 30 preset menus.
Southern Pride also has an electric model, the SC-300. What are the benefits of that model?
JR: The SC-300 creates mouth-watering smoked items just like our gas-fired, wood-burning smokers. Because it is electric, it allows cold smoking of fish, cheese and beef jerky. This model uses wood chips instead of split logs to produce the desired amount of smoke for the product. An optional steam system is also available. The standard control allows the ability to select any combination of heat, smoke and steam, if applicable. The SC-300 is also the smallest size smoker in our lineup, which helps with very limited kitchen space and the price point.