Cho Knows BBQ

If you read our post yesterday, you know that Allen had a delicious time visiting Kimchi Smoke, which recently popped up on the Lower East Side. Get to know the man behind Kimchi Smoke, BBQ Pitmaster and Chef Robert Austin Cho.

BBQ Pitmaster and Chef Robert Austin Cho
BBQ Pitmaster and Chef, Robert Austin Cho

FP: How did you get your start with cooking?

RC: Although I’ve been cooking and grilling for a long time, my love for cooking came into full effect after watching an episode of Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay, where Flay challenged someone to smoked ribs. Ever since, I’ve been hooked on cooking with wood and smoke.

FP: We love the idea of your Kimchi Smoke pop-up! How did the concept come about?

RC: I won a couple of church cook-offs but I thought the real test to my BBQ skills would be selling it. If people would pay for my food, then I knew I had something. It took a couple of years, but I finally gave it shot in 2013 at a street festival and have been looking for spaces to showcase my food. I posted on Instagram that I was looking for a pop-up space and someone responded!

FP: Glad to hear your concept came to fruition!

Name three people you would like to cook in the same kitchen with and why.

RC: I’ve never met my wife’s grandfather, but he was a Grandmaster Chef at various restaurants in Chinatown. I would’ve learned so much from him. Everytime I make some Chinese dish, I always ask my wife, “Do you think your grandfather would’ve like this?”

That Korean lady from Youtube, Maangchi! I use her as a point of reference all the time. Plus, she seems like a real fun person. And cooking should always be fun.

Chef Edward Lee in Kentucky. His concept of cooking is similar to mine, incorporating Kimchi with Southern traditions. But of course, he is on another level. I think we would turn out some amazing food!

FP: Sounds like a great (and delicious) list! 

Outside of Kimchi Smoke, what are some of your favorite meals to cook at home for yourself?

RC: I like making steamed flounder with ginger and scallions. Very simple, but very healthy and delicious. My kids really like spaghetti and meatballs.

FP: Can’t go wrong with good ol’ spaghetti and meatballs!

When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in NJ/NYC or other places you’ve visited.

RC: The best restaurant experience was at Gramercy Tavern. Excellent food and stellar service. I need to go back!

Lucky Eight in Brooklyn, Cosmo’s Italian Salumeria in Hackensack and Peck Peck Chicken in Teaneck are some good places too.

FP: We’ll add those places to our ever-growing list!

What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂

RC: Raspberry Truffles and Salt & Vinegar Chips.

FP: We’re with you on those… good choices!

What are some of your non-cooking/food related interests and hobbies?

RC: Play and watch football.

FP: Speaking of football, what was Pete Carroll thinking on that last play in the Super Bowl?

RC: Yeah, I don’t know what Pete Carroll was thinking! As a Cowboys’ fan, I’m just glad Romo didn’t throw that pass. 

FP: Thank you so much for your time. We wish you continued success with Kimchi Smoke!


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