FOOD TRUCK FRIDAY: Smolder a local favorite for BBQ

Smolder BBQ is officially back up and serving again. Customers couldn't wait to get in line, and the owners couldn't wait to get back to barbecuing.

Posted: Jul 26, 2019 6:49 AM
Updated: Jul 26, 2019 6:54 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)- For News 18's this Morning's latest Food Truck Friday segment, we're telling the story behind a local barbecue truck that recently took some time off the road.

Smolder BBQ is officially back up and serving again. Customers couldn't wait to get in line, and the owners couldn't wait to get back to barbecuing. 

"I really enjoy doing it," said Ben Hewitt, Owner and Chef of Smolder BBQ.

Good barbecue takes a good amount of time to get just right.

"I had to teach myself how to be patient. Just the patience of being able to cook something for 12-13 hours, or 8-12 hours," Hewitt said. "They have an old saying; if you're looking, you're not cooking."

Every minute these meats spend in the smoker is a minute well spent, according to Smolder BBQ's customers.

"We order the pulled pork and the pork nachos," Bill Lodde said. "Excellent. Very good flavor, it's all fresh made. You can't beat it."

"It's sort of a hobby turned business. Prior to business, I started off in a barbecue contest cooking, which was super competitive And I had no idea what I was getting into," Hewitt said. 

Through competing, Hewitt discovered the differences in BBQ.

"There's so many different styles, it all depends on where you are."

He also learned how to cater to his Midwestern audience.

"I would say we're more of a Kansas City-style with the local red sauce that we use," he said. "But I like a Texas-style brisket with the dry rub on it. And a lot of people around here like sauce so we have a lot of extra sauce."

What many people don't know is the Smolder BBQ truck used to roll a different way. Smolder's wheels used to be much smaller, literally. 

"We started with a hot dog cart, or barbecue cart," Hewitt said. 

Customers have been hooked ever since.

"The real good quality product, the great flavor, the friendly service. When you want something good you go to the mom and pop type places in town," Lodde said. 

While many who eat at Smolder BBQ say the recipes have already been mastered, Ben is always eating, or researching, for new ideas.

"When we travel out of town, I'll hit up almost every barbecue spot that I can," Hewitt said. 

Ben is a United Steelworkers Member and works at Arconic. You may remember our previous reports over the past few months about contract negotiations between USW members and the company. That's affected Ben and Rachel's food truck a lot.

Smolder had stopped serving due to the unknowns of what would happen with his job.  Just a couple weeks ago, USW local 115 agreed to a three year contract with Arconic.

Ben celebrated by firing up his truck and serving lunch to the workers at Arconic and posted up in West Lafayette to serve dinner to the public. He said having a full-time job and the truck can be time consuming, so he gives credit to his wife Rachel for organizing everything.

Ben said he's unsure if anything could happen again with ratifying new contracts at Arconic, that's why Smolder will always be at the mercy of his full-time job.

"Smolder, until I'm able to say I don't need insurance anymore or benefits or anything like that, will always be at the mercy of [USW and Arconic]."

Ben said he and his wife Rachel are taking Smolder one day at a time. The couple is being more selective with when they serve, and will be seeking out more catering jobs from now on.

Follow Smolder BBQ on Facebook to find out where they'll be serving next! 

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