Talking Barbecue with 4 Bones Barbecue

August 24, 2013 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article interviews Joel Baker, owner of 4 Bones Barbecue.

Brisket Cheesesteak Sandwich. Photo courtesy of Monica Lea Imagery

8. What's the balance of what people are selecting?

Right now we're barbecue heavy, which I expected it to be, having the word BBQ in our name. But I'm already seeing the trend from regular customers that have been here 3 or 4 times already, moving away from the barbecue and trying the sandwiches. We use the meat from the pits in our specialty sandwiches. Our brisket cheesesteak really is that slow cooked brisket that we top with sautéed peppers and onions and provolone cheese. And we use the same brisket in it that you would get if you ordered a half pound of brisket market style.

9. Do you barbecue in the store?

Yes, we cook here every day.

10. Do you do the cooking?


Market Salad with Chicken and Brisket. Photo courtesy of Monica Lea Imagery

11. Where did you learn to barbecue?

I guess it's from being an old country boy! I've been cooking backyard barbecue growing up since I was a teenager. When I was literally 17 or 18 years old I got a little $100 offset pit at Lowe's or Home Depot. That was 20 years ago now. Since that time I've been constantly cooking, grilling, barbecuing, and smoking. It's just been a part of what I do. When we got ready to do this restaurant we tweaked our recipes a bit to go from a back yard kind of deal to someone who could do it with consistency and being able to put out the amount of meat you need every day.

12. What do you mean by "classic Southern barbecue?"

To me, classic Southern barbecue involves cooking heavy cuts of meat for long periods of time at low temperatures over wood. We use whole briskets and pork shoulders. We season with a dry rub and let them cook for 12 or 14 hours in that great red oak smoke. There's no cheating about it - you don't boil them in a bag or put them in an oven, or shoot them up full of goo or whatever. You just rub 'em and smoke 'em. It's the traditional non-fancy, non-technological way of doing it.

…do you add sauces?

We don't sauce in the kitchen. I have a couple of sauces that we make here that are available on the table for those who want them. We have a sweet red sauce, a mustard sauce, a vinegar sauce, and a hot sauce.  I personally don't use a lot of sauce and I don't think our barbecue needs it. I understand some folks like a little sauce and I think we have them covered with what we offer.

13. Do you make all your sauces?

Yes. Let me tell you, most items we sell are made here in the store. The kid's chicken fingers and corn dogs we don't make. The fried okra and sweet corn we don't make. We buy them from people who do them better than we do. Pretty much everything else you come across we've made in house, from scratch.

14. There are a lot of barbecue restaurants in Jacksonville. How will you differentiate 4 Bones?

I have eaten a lot of barbecue but not a lot in Jacksonville so I can't speak too much to other places. To me barbecue is a reflection of the person cooking it. Our pulled pork is my interpretation of pulled pork. It's the seasonings that I like. It's the wood that I cook over that I like. It may be completely different from what anyone else does. I hate using the comparison of art and food but it does kind of fit in this situation because I've chosen these seasonings and I've chosen this rub and I've chosen how to put everything together. So when I put something as simple as a pulled pork sandwich out there that's me saying "hey, this is Joel Baker's interpretation of what a pulled pork sandwich should be." That's the difference between me and the person down the road. And I think that'll be universal across all barbecue restaurants. For us you really do have someone in there doing the cooking. I don't have a corporate recipe card. I'm putting my stamp on it.

15. What can you recommend to someone coming to 4 Bones for the first time who's looking to understand your style of cooking?

If you're coming for the first time I'd recommend that you get the pulled pork sandwich. If you're a barbecue fanatic that lives and breathes barbecue, when you eat a pulled pork sandwich you're going to know right there if the rest of my barbecue is any good. Because if you can cook a pulled pork sandwich well it's a sign that you know what you're doing and people will be able to tell that. On the other extreme, if you're newer to barbecue, the pulled pork sandwich will give you a good idea of what barbecue is all about - it's slow cooked meats, seasoned and smoked. If you enjoy that, you'll enjoy barbecue. So come in and have a pulled pork sandwich and that will tell you all you need to know about me. If I can do that and you like it, then you'll like the rest of the menu too.

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