Hot smoked – The Foodie Destination – Making the most of outdoor living has been paramount for many of us, particularly over the last couple of years when lifestyles, in general, have changed considerably.
I for one have utilised our garden now more than ever and appreciated the open spaces available on our doorstep, which perhaps in previous years have been overlooked.
It is true to say, that I have always been interested in outdoor cooking but with minimal enthusiasm. Hot Smoked has given me a spark of hope with their inspiring cooking aids for hot and cold smoking bringing alfresco dining just that little bit closer.
Hot Smoked was established in 2008 from a love of cooking outdoors, the company has brought wood smoke flavour to BBQs everywhere through its handy award-winning starter kits.
Founder Alyson Murray has a background in agency and client-side marketing. She lives in rural Devon with her husband, two children and dog, Ruby.
Women Talking talks to Alyson about her business, career change and the future.
What is it like Starting up your own business?
“Starting out on your own is daunting and whilst you lose the financial safety net of working for a large company, a dedicated IT department (you won’t realise how much you need it till it’s gone) and seemingly bottomless budget, you gain immeasurable freedom and flexibility. You will need to turn your hand to everything associated with running a business from finance to purchasing to human resources, there is never a dull moment!”
“I have worked with many friends along the way, two of which were inspired to launch their own successful businesses The Original Surfboard Company and The Oil Hut. They were probably thinking, well if she can do it, so can I. And they did!”
5 top tips
Choose something you love to do. It may never have to feel like ‘work’
Don’t be afraid to seek advice, network and ask lots of questions
For a gift company, be prepared for it to take 3 years to establish. Keep going!
Bring in expert help when you can if this is not your skillset, e.g., an accountant or web designer
Finance is key to expansion, be prepared to invest to progress.
Have cooking techniques always been of interest to you?
“Yes, I’m quite particular about what I eat and always cook from scratch, so the kitchen is an important hub for family and friends.”
“We usually have an extensive larder of ingredients and always love trying something new. We’ve had the luxury of growing some of our own food, both veg and meat and having a glut of one food or another does push you to experiment with what you can create!”
What is your favourite food to cook? And your favourite method?
“My all-time favourite dish is simple barbecued meat or fish with a range of salads. Adding a tray bake of wood-fired oven roasted vegetables to couscous and slow hot smoked belly pork over hickory wood is my favourite and tastiest method.”
What are the benefits of cooking outdoors?
“It’s sociable and the slow cooking nature of hot smoking means it’s quite laid back and not as frenetic as BBQ can sometimes be.”
“You can vary the location – back garden, the beach, the riverbank.”
“Away from the kitchen, you can focus on more simple ingredients and there’s always extra flavour, especially if you cook over natural coals. Plus, after cooking, the BBQ is like an outdoor heater, which is handy in our climate.”
“Yes, and I’m probably just as guilty of that. We watch a lot of Masterchef and even the food titles can make your head spin. Some of the intricacies of the dishes they create are probably lost in the eating and I feel it’s more important to get the basics right.”
What is more popular hot or cold smoking and why?
“Hot smoking because cold smoking is seen to be a lot more technical. In truth they are very different techniques and whilst there is a technical element to both, they are not difficult. Hot smoking is really a variant of BBQ where you are adding an extra smoky flavour dimension, so it’s easy to achieve on a regular BBQ. For best results, you need to slow the whole process down and cook more gently so the dishes you can create are always amazingly tender and juicy as well as flavour enriched, rather than the more usual BBQ ‘scorching’. “
“Cold smoking is remarkably accessible for certain foods such as cheeses, oils, salts, garlic, chillis, nuts etc which don’t need any curing before smoking. For fresh foods, the curing part can be a bit daunting, but it’s an age-old technique of salting to remove moisture harbouring bacteria and straightforward. Once you’ve made your own bacon or smoked salmon, you’ll have the confidence to try more cured and cold smoked dishes.”
Are there any set rules when it comes to pairing food and wood smoke flavours?
“There aren’t many ‘rules’ in food smoking which is great as it offers huge scope for experimentation, however, some wood smoke flavours are stronger than others, so it’s best to match the smoke strength to the flavour of the food so it complements rather than overpowers. Oak, mesquite, and hickory are on the heavy side so are best paired with red meat or oily fish, whilst you need something lighter such as Maple or Cherry for chicken, or Beech and Alder for seafood and vegetables. Some people get to like a particular smoke flavour and just use it for everything which is also fine!”