Chef's Choice: Mike Emerson, Pappy's Smokehouse
"I'm a 54-year-old knucklehead who got lucky cooking barbecue."
|Mike Emerson, co-owner, Pappy's Smokehouse|
"I don't know how to explain it," Emerson says as he sits in the empty Pappy's dining room an hour before the restaurants open its doors. (And when those doors open, patrons will already be waiting in the cold.) "We get people in here, and they look at the crowds and ask if I ever excepted this. I say no, and I'll tell you a story:
"See my runners on the floor? I opened this with [John Matthews and Brian Scoggins], and I had that one there and that one there." He motions to the two three-foot-long runners nearest the counter. "On opening day, I said if we can get a line to the end of that runner, we've got it made. We had a line down the hall, into the banquet room, to the door. No, I couldn't have anticipated that happening. What we could control, we did. What we couldn't just fell into place."
Indeed it does. Even without an audience of anticipating customers, shrieks of laughter regularly burst from the kitchen as they get ready for the day's work.