Nick McKenzie of Mac's Smokehouse
The history of your smokehouse is a drama-packed story. Spill it.
We actually first opened our restaurant in 1994 next to the Kingdome. Two weeks after we opened, the ceiling of the Kingdome began to fall off, and they had to implode the building. We lost the rest of the baseball season and the whole year of football. Then, in 2001, the Nisqually earthquake happened. I remember when the alarm went off; I was knocked down to my knee and all of a sudden we could hear these explosions as the bricks from the building next door fell into our restaurant. By the time the earthquake was over, our restaurant had been completely flattened by thousands of bricks. It was phenomenal that none of us got killed. So, long story short, after that I owned a hot-dog stand, and just sorta stood around trying to figure out what the fuck I was going to do.
How did you pick this new location?
It's a long story and it involves Paul Allen, and I had to sign this agreement with him not to talk about it, so let's not talk about it, okay?
Okay. Explain to me the whole meat-smoking process.
We smoke the meat in our Cookshack smoker, which is essentially a steam bath for cow meat. A meat sauna, if you will. We place apple wood, hickory wood, and mesquite wood in a box; warm the wood with electric coils; and then place the meat on racks above the wood. The tougher the meat, the longer you smoke it. The beef you're eating took about six hours to cook.
How does one learn to smoke meat?
I spent about three months experimenting with pounds of meat on my deck. For those three months, I fed my kid mostly beef, which is probably why he is so huge today. I also ended up giving away a lot of the meat to my neighbors who wandered over, intoxicated by the scent.