Mike Shaker’s sausages snap like firecrackers. His brisket melts away like smoked milk chocolate on your tongue. His mac and cheese is a warm, creamy security blanket in the cold, terrifying night.
Put them together on one plate and you’ve assembled the formidable, low and slow powers of Shaker Barbeque, headlining the next Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up—now at Ludlow Liquors in Avondale.
Shaker has decades of fine dining experience behind him (Nellcote, Nico Osteria, Cira). Back in the day, he headed up charcuterie production at the late, great Old Town Social. But when the pandemic struck, he left his post with the Boka Group and returned to the backyard passion he inherited from his late father.
Armed with a pair of Weber bullet smokers and an infinite supply of post-oak, Shaker launched a guerilla catering and pop-up operation, pushing central-Texas-style barbecue on a greedy, salivating legion of chef pals. Today he has as much work as he can handle, emerging among the city’s tight-knit, collaborative renaissance of itinerant, new-school smokers. The sausages he stuffs with brisket trim and copious amounts of black pepper, achieving that startling snap with a five-hour, cold-hot smoke, interrupted by a skin-stretching ice water shock. I’ve been floored by those ethereal slabs of jiggly, smoked prime beef at previous Foodballs, when he’s jumped in to join the crew.
On January 30 he’s keeping it simple—filling walk-in orders for a single heaping plate of those magical meats, accented with his peppery sauce, plus mac and slaw on the side. Foodball OG Charles Wong of Umamicue is joining this crew, along with future Foodball OG Joe Yim of Knox Ave BBQ.
Look for a bacon fat-washed mezcal Old Fashioned from the gang behind the bar.
Just walk into Ludlow Liquors, 2959 N. California, starting at 5 PM, this Monday, January 30.