The man who refers to himself as "Kansas City's only non-catering caterer" certainly has a number of high-profile catering jobs lined up for the next few months that would say differently. Belly Up Bar-B-Que's Craig Adcock is set to go to Sonoma next month to man the smoker at a series of barbecue and wine events. And he has been invited to show off his grill skills next February at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami.
It's a busy time for the owner of Belly Up and Jude's Rum Cakes -- demand for what's coming off his grill and out of the oven is scorching. Yesterday, Adcock talked about launching his two businesses, and today he confesses his love for cheese.
What are your culinary inspirations? Local products, artisan purveyors and people that believe in what they do. Louis at Pryde's of Westport ordered the first six rum cakes we ever made as a special order. Crum's veggies -- I love Dave Crum. He's probably the best barbecue guy in Kansas City. I love cooking with different chefs around town, like John McClure.
What's your favorite ingredient? Sea salt. There are just so many variations and different types. I use it as a finishing agent. I also love mustard from Mary Kay Greenwood. She's got a spicy mustard that's not on the market yet. It's got horseradish in it. I use it on barbecue -- it's fine and spicy. I know [Christopher] Elbow's got a jar in his fridge.
What was your best recent food find? I always like the Vietnam Cafe. The beef pho is just incredible. I get two coffees and one cup of ice. They're both sweetened. I'm trying to convert to one sweet and one not.
What's your favorite local ingredient? I love the Herb Co., and I dig the tomahawk chop out of Paradise Locker Meats. It's a 4.5-pound, bone-in rib eye. I grill it, and I'm probably one of the few in the nation. Most sear it and finish it in the oven. But I do it eight minutes on a side on high heat and then indirect heat for 35 minutes. I hold it at 185 degrees before letting it rest.
I love the pecans from the Missouri Northern Pecan Growers. They're always consistent, clean, and the flavor profiles are always there. They toast up well with balance. It's a quality product. You can tell there is soul in it.
What's one food you hate? Fennel. I've never liked it. That, and anise. I can't have anything to do with it, especially black licorice Ford Gum.
What's one food you love? Port salut cheese and parm[esan]. I like the creaminess, depth and elegance of port salut. I'll just serve it on a cracker or a grilled baguette from Fervere, but you've got to get there early.
What's your guilty pleasure? Listening to vinyl. I'm all over the map. I've got 6,000 albums downstairs. Just give me a bottle of pinot and three hours of vinyl. My stereo is a hodgepodge, like a rebuilt jalopy. It's a 1962 piece of William Tell furniture, but the radio died. So I've got a Hitachi record player that plays 45s, 78s and 33-1/3s. I'll listen to country western or the Stones or the Beatles, and a lot of cool blues.
What's always in your kitchen? Olive oil and always cheese. I'll usually just get out the cutting board when people come over and put out a little cheese, a few crackers and some mustard. Patric chocolate. He used to make custom discs for me -- we're always trading. I'll take a slate cutting board and draw a line with chalk, putting the 70 percent on one side, 67 percent on the other. And then toss on some fresh berries and a little wine with it.
Where do you like to eat out? Grinders. I'll get the two-fer with bacon and sausage, goat cheese and banana peppers. And usually a [Boulevard] Single Wide [IPA]. I love the burger at Starker's and the happy hour at Bluestem. The tartare is incredible. Rico's in Overland Park has a mushroom penne with black truffles. It's just lemon and olive oil. I love JJ's. I used to love it even more when they had half-bottle Sunday nights. I'm usually eating the steak or having a few cocktails.
If you could steal one recipe in town off any menu, which one would you steal? I can deconstruct a lot of them to get it to where it needs to be. But I'd want the tomatillo sauce that Patrick Ryan does at Port Fonda. It's spicy and tart. I had it recently, and I stepped back and I said, I need to figure this out.
What's one book that every chef should read? Steven Raichlen's How to Grill. It simplifies everything. Pork & Sons by Stephane Reynaud. It's beautiful. You have the history of when food goes back to simple things. That's what I dig about it; it's very respectful to the past.
Who's got the best barbecue in town, and what are you ordering? I'm old-school. Bryant's burnt ends. I always get fries, a pitcher of Boulevard, and a Big Red cream soda. I don't use sauce.The best barbecue used to be Danny Edwards, but then they moved.
A chef is only as good as ... the products and suppliers that he or she uses.