Amy Smith smoked her first brisket as a way to keep a family tradition alive and to honor her father who cooked a brisket every year on the Fourth of July before he passed in 2016. Her first brisket was well received by the family and friends.
“After he passed away, I wanted to carry on that tradition so I smoked my first brisket in 2016 and everybody loved it. I was like ‘wow I just threw my dad under the bus. Mine was way better than his brisket,’” Smith joked. “And so I just kind of developed passion for trying new things and smoking different products. That’s how it started — with honoring my dad and then it just turned into a passion.”
Smith kept experimenting with flavors and is now turning her passion into a business — Boss Hogg’s BBQ and Catering LLC in Winlock.
Smith, with her boyfriend and fellow pit boss Joel Dillinger’s help, has been catering for larger events — weddings, parties, large family dinners, and selling her food at different events, such as local farmer’s markets and community gatherings since June of 2019. Smith said that although the recipes are hers, Dillinger is always a huge help and he has perfected the ribs.
Smith said the response over the past months is what pushed her to open a restaurant — people who have eaten Smith’s smoked meats have told her it’s the best barbecue in Lewis County.
Smith is now a pit boss with a restaurant and a love for cooking her pork, chicken, beef and turkey in a low-and-slow style that she says makes all the difference. The southern-style meats can be paired with several sides of which Smith says the pepper jack smoked mac-and-cheese is the most popular but hungry customers can also get loaded baked beans, corn, coleslaw, mixed greens and corn muffins. Smith said that she is beginning to experiment with plant-based meats for vegetarians.
“It’s all smoked. We use a pull-behind smoker trailer. We use various fruit woods to smoke the food. It’s a low-and-slow style so we don’t rush it. A brisket takes about 20 hours,” Smith said.
Boss Hogg’s BBQ and Catering LLC’s location at 109 E. Walnut St. in Winlock is on track to open in about two weeks and Smith said a formal grand opening is planned for spring when the weather is nicer. Updates and more information can be found on Boss Hogg’s Facebook page.
“We are hoping to have the kitchen finished next week and then we have to wait for the permitting. Everything is moving along quicker than we thought. We’re estimating about two weeks until we open … We’re planning, if all goes well, we’ll have the grand opening when the weather is nicer and have some sort of shindig or hoedown in our parking lot with live music,” Smith said.
“A lot of people love the mac-and-cheese. I would say our most unique item is the Cajun meatloaf. I haven’t had anybody not like our ribs yet,” Smith said.
The ribs are coated in a dry rub and the barbecue sauce is served on the side so those who just want the taste created by the smoking can forgo the sauce, which is how most people seem to prefer them, Smith said.
Josiah, Sunni, and Jude, Smith’s kids, help out when they have orders for large parties and Dillinger, who owns a construction company, will take the day off to help Smith smoke large quantities of meat.
“It’s really a partnership with me and Joel. It’s family-run. The kids help out and I do what I can on my own and when we have to pull the big guy in — we pull him in,” Smith said.
Smith says she feels her food stands out because of the low-and-slow cooking method that sometimes requires the meat to be in the smoker for up to 20 hours. She says they focus on using quality ingredients.
The meat is currently sourced from Smart Foodservices, a wholesale restaurant supply company, but Smith said that after the restaurant is up-and-running she would like to partner with a local farm to source her ingredients.