The New ‘Q

Are you ready for some mouth-watering BBQ? If so, you’re in luck. This month the award-winning American BBQ chain, Famous Dave’s, opens its doors in Abu Dhabi. The chain consists of 180 restaurants across the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico, but now they have partnered with Tablez Food Company to open their first UAE outlet. We took advantage of the opportunity to sit down with Charlie Torgerson, Senior Director of Culinary and Executive Chef for the chain, to learn more about why he’s so crazy about ‘Q.

Where does your passion for meat come from?

Easy answer: my grandfather owned Spike’s Fresh Meat butchery. I grew up in there. That taught me what I needed to know. Now I’ve been with Famous Dave’s for twenty years.

And BBQ?

My wife jokes and says we have a 4-bedroom house with a 1-car, 3-smoker garage. I always smoke some new piece of meat. Famous Dave’s test kitchens support my BBQ habit. You will taste the smokiness in all our food, except dessert of course. The new Abu Dhabi restaurant will have a 1400-pound smoker burning imported hickory logs.

How do you design a menu for a restaurant in a new country?

Obviously, the first thing I did was remove the pork items. We enhanced our beef rib and lamb sections and added a few items to give local flavor and appeal to the vegetarians.

“We worked hard to source local products while still maintaining our award-winning flavor.”

What do you cook when you’re at home?

I smoke a lot of meat, of course. But, truth be told, I love Mexican food. I can’t get enough. I also make pasta dishes and fish. I like to cook for others and rarely sit for a full meal when I have guests. I snack as I cook.

What do you eat when you go out for a meal?

Sushi, funny enough. I cook meat every day so when I go out I want raw fish. I also tend to go to local friend-owned restaurants.

What are your hobbies?

I’m from Minnesota and spent a lot of time in Alaska, so I am a fisherman. I love to go to the fishing cabin and fish.

Guilty pleasures?

My cholesterol levels don’t like it, but I adore a big hunk of meat with all the fat still on it. My mouth waters at the thought. I’m careful not to indulge this guilty pleasure too often.

By Heather Long Vandevoorde, Ph.D.

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