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Local eats: Smoke Modern Barbeque

Smoke Modern Barbeque is one of the favorite downtown restaurants in Glenwood Springs.. So be sure to grab a meal here so you can say you knew about it before the rest of the country did.

Susie Jimenez: What makes Smoke so special, and why is it so popular in our valley?

Jamie Theriot (owner/chef): Smoke Modern Barbeque spends countless hours and efforts to maintain a uniquely high-quality product. Smoke is more than just a restaurant, however. We are part of the community, and our culture is built around great food, friendly service and community participation. We support as much of the chain of local businesses as possible, and are committed to making our neighborhoods more vibrant.

SJ: What is it about your mac ‘n’ cheese that everyone loves? They continue to order it, and you always put out more than one type at the Mac & Cheese Festival every year.

JT: Mac ‘n’ cheese was part of the plan as a classic bbq side dish from the beginning, but the program that’s developed was unplanned and completely organic. Some of the best food ideas that I’ve seen in over 23 years in professional kitchens are born from cooks and chefs needing to feed themselves. I had featured very high-end mac ‘n’ cheeses in other restaurants (lobster, truffle oil, etc.), and we started to eat mac ‘n’ cheese with proteins and veggies in it as complete meals in the kitchen at Smoke. As we experimented and solicited opinions from our regulars, they became a mainstay on our menu. From traditional pasta combinations like shrimp scampi to uniquely barbeque creations like burnt end mac ‘n’ cheese.

SJ: What is your catering end of Smoke like?

JT: Our catering program has become a critical part of Smoke Modern Barbeque’s arsenal, and a welcomed and recognizable part of many events, both private and public in and around the Roaring Fork Valley. You may see things offered at events that you’ve never experienced in the restaurant. We offer additional smoked items like wild, cedar-planked smoked salmon and whole pigs, as well as seasonal items like smoked local beets, Palisade peach cobbler and smoked Olathe corn on the cob. Our past appetizers have a dedicated following for little bites like our devils on horseback, crispy crabcake and blackened ahi tostaditas.

SJ: Sauces are important when doing BBQ — how have you developed these flavors, and what are your secrets?

JT: Our five signature sauces took years of research and tweaking, and are still regularly tested for improvement. There are no real secrets, only to concentrate on balancing flavor. Our vinegar sauce has to be balanced with the right amount of sweet heat, and our sweet sauce has to have enough tartness and spice to balance the sweetness of molasses and brown sugar.