Luke Tully is the self-taught BBQ expert at SMK (Smoked Meat Kitchen), the beachside hangout at La Mer, Dubai.
The team at SMK have been trained at London’s Smokestak, under the tutelage of David Carter, an innovator in this culinary field. Luke Tully take over the reins at SMK Dubai, after working with Carter for the last three years.
SMK serves up slow-cooked meat smoked over English oak, and topped off with homemade rubs to season the cuts. The cooking process is by smoking, rather than direct grilling, which allows the meat to become tender and succulent.
How did you get into smoking meat?
It started as a hobby in my late teens when I converted an old BBQ into a smoker. It became a love and now it’s my profession. I suppose I just have the knack for it.
When was the first time you tried smoked meat?
The first time I had brisket was about 10 years ago. After that I was on the brisket trail, trying places all over the UK. I started experimenting to create the best brisket.
You must have made some mistakes?
Oh yeah, I made some howlers! But you find ways to mend things.
What’s the key to the smoking process?
The start is the most important part because it’s when the smoke penetrates the meat the most.
Apart from meat, what do you smoke?
Loads of stuff: salmon, swordfish, lobster, prawns. You name it, I’ve smoked it.
Do you stick to strict timings or do you follow your instinct?
I could do this in my sleep because I’ve been doing it every single day for so long.
What rubs do you use on your meat?
Sea salt, cracked black pepper, paprika and soft brown sugar – I’m telling you all my secrets! I don’t go too heavy because I don’t want to interfere with the flavour of the meat. I agree with the philosophy of Aaron Franklin.
He’s the most famous pit master in the world; people sleep outside his restaurant to get a table. He swears by a simple salt and pepper rub with no sauce because he believes meat should taste like meat.
TULLY: “We had some customers from Texas at SMK recently and they said the food was as good as they get back home, which was nice to hear.”
What wood do you use?
Lithuanian oak. Oak from cold countries is dense and burns slower for a thick smoke.
Have you perfected your formula?
Well, I wouldn’t change the way I do it. But I’m still learning and willing to listen.
It sounds like this is your dream job?
Definitely. Whether you’re a road sweeper or a footballer, you have to love what you do and dedicate yourself.
END OF INTERVIEW
Focussing On The Back Street Boy