Brendon Chow Lin On in front Mr Chow's Smoke House opposite the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain. —Photo: Jermaine Cruickshank

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Mr chow's: 6 years in the making

By Jensen LaVende jensen.lavende@trinidadexpress.com

It's all in the timing.

This is what Brendon Chow Lin On says of his business Mr Chow's Smoke House at Tragarete Road, opposite the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain.

The Business Express met Chow Lin On at his office just off the Lady Young Road, Morvant last week, where he said that the launch of the business on October 31 last year, was a process that took six years.

Chow Lin On said the idea came while he lived in Florida, USA and assisted friends when they entered smoke competitions.

The name of the business was changed from its registered name "Bar-be-Que Guru" to Mr Chow's to separate the food business from his "dog business", Guru Dogs.

Mr Chow's should not be considered a fast food restaurant as the cooked meats the restaurant serves take a minimum of four hours to cook.

"The chicken stays in the cooker for four hours and the ribs eight hours... it's not rocket science once you set it you close the grill and don't look back," Chow Lin On said.

For customers who live in South, he promises by the end of the year he will be there to satisfy the cravings of his fan base.

For those whose taste buds cannot wait until the 6 p.m. opening hours, Mr Chow's will be catering lunch by the beginning of July and will be available for Carnival fetes next year.

Since the smoker was first lit last October, it has never been turned off Chow Lin On said, adding that chunks of wood from fruit trees are continuously placed in the smoker which is just larger than a small car.

No lighter fluid, gas or coals are placed in the furnace of the smoker, just chopped up fruit trees.

Why does he do this?

Fruit trees, Chow Lin On said, referring to expert advice he received, are the best for smoking because of the rich taste it gives the meat.

He uses mango because of availability, adding in Florida, where the idea ignited, apple trees are used.

"It's tough because people don't really cut down mango trees so we are always looking for wood. We tried other fruits but mango has a unique taste... the next step might be to import the wood."

The meats are seasoned with a secret seasoning comprised of both local and foreign ingredients, then placed in the smoker.

The meats are not precooked just laid there to be enveloped by a tasty, smoky, falling-off-the-bone perfection.

There is only one downside to the smokehouse, fish eaters are left out of the smoky taste of Mr Chow's because smoked fish "is dry, cardboard dry", he explains.

As a consolation, there is grilled fish.

Unlike barbecue your food cannot be burnt, or over smoked, he said.

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