With opinions still flaring up about our ongoing search for Berlin’s best burger, it’s important that we honor the other restaurants serving non-burger shaped deliciousness. One of the places consistently drawing both both big crowds and deserved accolades is Big Stuff, which serves meltingly soft BBQ in the heart of Markthalle Neun (right next to their fantastic pescetarian equivalent, fish smokers Glut & Späne).
Started by former journalist Anna Lai and former fashion designer Tobias Bürger, Big Stuff has conquered our hearts (and stomachs!) with a true Berlin first: hot smoked meats. Using an oven specially imported from Tennessee and cuts of meat not traditionally served in high-end cuisine, the two have built their own niche: low-cost high-quality nosh. Check out Anna’s Pecha Kucha presentation for more info.
With the inauguration of their first food truck at the 2014 Berlinale imminent, we visited a while ago (arriving early to make sure there would still be enough of everything to try) and got to ask a few questions as I munched down on their beautifully rustic meats.
How did Big Stuff get started? And why barbecued meats?
The idea of a bbq place in Berlin was born around 2008, when my business partner Anna was still studying in New York and I visited a couple of times. Over there we got in touch with bbq culture and became fascinated by this special way of preparing meat. Additionally, we developed a fascination for working with cuts of meat that are not the classic prime cuts, but that are still from the best meat quality—this way we could get great meat out to people at affordable prices.
What is usually on the menu and what do you think is your best-kept secret?
Normally we always have the following meats: pulled pork, pork belly, beef brisket, beef short rib. The most popular of these I’d have to say is the classic pulled pork sandwich
As for best kept secret? That’s tough, since we have a completely open kitchen in our stand, so not even the dishwashing is done unwatched. So I would say, maybe our smoked porter beer, which we produce together with the brewer Heidenpeters; there’s only been one batch made so far, and we never know when the next one will be ready. As the arrival of this second batch remains a secret to us as well, it’s probably our best preserved secret…
Where do you source your meats from?
Our pork comes from Thüringen, from a farm only raising Duroc pigs, whereas our beef comes from Salzburger Land, from grass-fed Pinzgauers. Our lam, goat and other specials usually come from Mecklenburg.
We try to find a combination of the best smokable meats, with the right fat and fibre structure, with non mass-produced farming. Farmers who care about each unique animal and are raising it accordingly. All of that mainly local, meaning German.
What about the sauces, drinks, etc., are you just as strict when it comes to them?
Our sauces mainly come from Saucen Eckart, a Berlin-based one-man company, specialized in handmade grill sauces.
As for drinks, we started without having any and just slowly kept on adding drinks that we thought fit our food. So we now carry Rheinsberger Preussenquelle water, homemade lemonade, Meckatzer and Heidenpeters beer, plus our bar, which every Street Food Thursday hosts a great bartender. More drinks are on their way!
During Berlinale 2014, you can find the Big Stuff BBQ truck at Potsdamer Platz’ Joseph-von-Eichendorff-Gasse along with five (!) other Markthalle IX food trucks.
All photos: Mary Scherpe