Meet the aviation lawyer whose hobby turned him into an epicure

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Meet the aviation lawyer whose hobby turned him into an epicure

Professional kosher meat smoker Andrew Krausz dishes up from his home in Hendon

My husband has a hobby from which we all benefit. He smokes… meat. Not only does it keep him quiet and amused for whole days at a time, but he produces extremely delicious strips of chewy (in a good way) steak that go down really rather well with a smooth glass of wine (or any other alcoholic drink really). He brings out cheeky morsels of this savoury treat at barbecues and family occasions to whoops of delight and cries of: “What? You really made this yourself, Tony?”

Tony Jacobs smoking meat in the garden

Tony’s method of production is rather primitive and something one might expect to find Ray Mears setting up on one of his adventures. Unlike Mears, Tony does not catch the prey himself; no, I get it from Kosher Deli, but he manages his craft without any help from mod cons. He proudly tells me: “My product is totally unique in that it is completely random. Borrowing from biltong, jerky and any other styles of smoking or drying that you can think of, I never get quite the same result twice. I use three sticks tied together in a tripod, wrapped with a piece of repurposed material to keep the smoke in with whatever wood comes to hand in a recycled colander.”

Tony’s food only gets enjoyed by manages to serve the Jacobs family and various friends who I sneak a bit out to in an envelope, but there is a kosher smoker doing his thing on a much larger scale here in London.

Andrew Krausz, who some might know as an aviation lawyer, is an epicure and a professional smoker. Marketed only on Facebook, Instagram and by word of mouth, his Hendon-based glatt kosher passion project Blue Smoke supplies large quantities of smoked meat and fish to London’s kosher carnivores on a weekly basis. If you want to order some, get in there quick as he sells out every single week. In fact, so sought after are his wares that he once had them lovingly chauffeured in a climate-controlled box by private jet to a superyacht just six hours after left his smoker. (Yes, I did try to get out of him who it was, but his lips were sealed).

Krausz (right) has had no formal chef training, but has always loved food – cooking it and eating it. In fact, it is not just about the meat as he has cooked for and hosted fine dining themed evenings for world renowned kosher winemakers and restaurateurs. Food is his passion and he is firmly intent on “making kosher better”.

In North America smoked meat is generally Montreal-style – a bit of a cross between what the Americans call pastrami and corned beef (salt beef to us Brits). Andrew first tried smoked meat at the kosher smokehouse Milt’s in Chicago and the rest is history.

Andrew told us about Izzy’s in New York, owned by Izzy Edelman, which, when I looked at the menu, came up as too far for UberEats to deliver to Stanmore. Ari White of Wandering Que is another American smoker. Starting in Texas, he now has headquarters in New Jersey and serves communities across the United States. With catering events and food trucks part of his empire, I can definitely feel a Stateside trip coming on for our 30th anniversary – “it’s research for your hobby, Tony!”

A far cry from Tony and his laissez faire attitude towards wood, Andrew showed me his wood ‘library’ at the bottom of his garden next to the smoke house. He gets his cherry, seasoned oak, plum, apple, pecan, whisky barrel oak and mesquite wood from an organic and sustainable forest supplier. A capable carpenter too, he cuts and manufactures his own grazing boards. A little more sophisticated than Tony with his whatever he can grab from the fridge marinades, Andrew uses strictly measured recipes with only the highest quality ingredients. He has imported a commercial smoker from the United States the size of a walk-in freezer; no boy scout methods for him.

Andrew smokes fish as well as meat

Their methods may differ somewhat, but what the two smokers have in common is that neither can meet their demand. Andrew did not disclose how much he makes and sells a week, but he shared that his Facebook group has over 2.5K members. If you join the Blue Smoke group you will be able to access the menus and be taken into a world of dino ribs, lacon, duck breast and crispy burnt ends. He doesn’t stop at meat, producing such fishy treats as Loch Duart Salmon Gravadlax and Scottish Steelhead Trout Pastrami. You want to get saucy? There’s a range of homemade condiments to pair with the main event. You won’t find Andrew’s goodies stocked in north west London delis, but if you do happen to be in Holland Park, pop into Supermarket of Dreams and you may be lucky.

Seth Kami, president and founder of Big Onion Walking Tours in New York, is a hobby smoker. He explained that the smoking of meat dates back thousands of years and is a form of preservation. It is also a way to make less flavourful cuts/pieces taste better and cheap cuts softer and easier to eat. Americans take their meat smoking very seriously and, according to Seth, there are two basic rules: “low and slow”. He uses a combination of well-dried wood and quality lump charcoal made from natural wood – hickory or cherry for beef and applewood for chicken. Mr Krausz may be interested to hear that Seth has recently acquired a used American oak barrel that aged Bourbon for a decade and then spent 12 years in the Caribbean ageing rum. Apparently after breaking down the barrel and drying the staves for six months, it imparts a uniquely sweet flavour. Wow, that is some serious smoking.

Me, I’m a carnivore and not a fussy eater. I’m happy with a hot dog on a stick at a barmitzvah. However, we have ordered one of Blue Smoke’s grazing boards for our anniversary in September and I have to admit I am more than a little bit excited.



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