Dylan Kier and Clara Barron, the couple behind the wildly successful Blackstrap BBQ, will open a burrito take-out spot in Saint-Henri sometime over the next few months.
Kier currently splits his time between the new locale and Blackstrap in Verdun. The pit boss took a few minutes to discuss burritos and, bonus, what it takes to prep for a major barbecue competition.
Tell me about the new place.
We're opening a burrito joint. Fast food-style, take-out burritos. Max 12 seats. I'm building the kitchen out now and I'll squeeze the seats in after.
Will it just be burritos on the menu?
It'll really be burritos and burrito bowls. I like to keep it simple. We'll start if off like that and hear what the people have to say. Then we'll make adjustments if need be.
Maybe. But with such a small place maybe not.
So where is this place in Saint-Henri exactly?
Right next door to Bar de Courcelle [4685 Notre-Dame Ouest], on de Courcelle, next to the parking lot.
What was there before?
I have no idea to be honest. The place just kind of fell into our laps.
When do you hope to open?
I'm aiming for September. Blackstrap took three months to renovate. This is smaller. You learn as you go with a build. Blackstrap was huge. I was the assistant. I had a former cook who went to carpentry school and we built it together. He was in charge. Now I'm leading this build and hiring as I need it. I can do some basic plumbing and wiring but when it gets technical I won't touch anything electrical.
So why burritos?
The way it happened is I was a bit tired of eating brisket. I have to taste it for quality at the restaurant and at competitions all the time. I started bringing barbecue home from Blackstrap and making burritos and tacos with it. Then we found out about this space. So that's why we're doing it. Leftover barbecue is how it happened. I love a good burrito. Whenever I go to the States I eat at Chipotle.
Do you have a name yet?
Can you walk me through the prep for a barbecue competition?
It's a big deal. It's a heavy workload to prep for a comp. I have a big checklist divided into sections: my gear, cooking equipment, smallwares. Everything gets packed into my enclosed trailer. I bring tables, canopy tents and pits. I'm working off Kamado Joe gear [Kier's sponsor] and I just finished a custom pit that debuted in Lake Placid.
On the meat side I have to be ahead of the game. I source Prime brisket or Wagyu brisket. I get great pork for the restaurant so I pull some shoulders and butts from the cases and then I go through a couple of cases of ribs. I buy some really nice chicken thighs. Prepare sauces and rubs and load everything into the trailer. I have a cargo GMC Savana and it can tow a hell of a lot.
And when you get to the site?
I try to get there the night before and camp out. I got in at midnight for this most recent competition in Lake Placid. I blew up my bed and went to sleep. In the morning I set up camp, pop tents by the trailer, roll the pits out, set up tables and a couple of lawn chairs. I built an inline hot water sink and it's the greatest thing ever. Washing fat off with cold water doesn't work. Now I'm in the middle range of luxury. But there are guys on the other end of the spectrum with 30 foot RVs. These guys don't live in urban centres.