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Meet the aviation lawyer whose hobby turned him into an epicurean

My husband has a hobby that we all benefit from. He smokes… meat. Not only does this keep him quiet and amused for days on end, it produces extremely delicious (in a good way) chewy slices of steak that go great with a nice glass of wine (or any other booze really ). He brings out cheeky morsels of this tasty treat at barbecues and family occasions with squeals of delight and shouts of, “What? Did you really do this yourself, Tony?

Tony Jacobs smoking meat in the garden

Tony’s production method is rather primitive and one would expect Ray Mears to settle into one of his adventures. Unlike Mears, Tony does not catch the prey himself; no, I get it from Kosher Deli, but it handles its craft without any help from mod cons. He proudly tells me, “My product is totally unique in that it’s completely random. Borrowing from biltong, jerky and any other smoking or drying style you can think of, I never get the same result twice. I use three sticks tied together in a tripod, wrapped in a piece of recycled material to keep the smoke in with whatever wood I can get hold of in a recycled colander.

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

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Andrew Krausz, who some may know as an aviation lawyer, is an epicurean and a professional smoker. Marketed solely on Facebook, Instagram and by word of mouth, his Hendon-based kosher glatt passion project, Blue Smoke, supplies large quantities of smoked meat and fish to London’s kosher carnivores every week. If you want to order some, get in quick because it sells out every week. In fact, his wares are so sought after that he lovingly had them driven in an air-conditioned box by private jet to a superyacht just six hours after leaving his smoker. (Yes, I tried to tell him who it was, but his lips were sealed).

Krausz (right) had no formal chef training, but always loved food – cooking and eat it. In fact, it’s not just about the meat, as he has cooked and hosted themed food parties for world-renowned kosher winemakers and restaurateurs. Food is his passion and he has every intention of “making kosher better”.

In North America, smoked meat is usually Montreal style – a bit of a cross between what Americans call pastrami and corned beef (corned beef for us Brits). Andrew first tried smoked meat at Milt’s Kosher Smokehouse 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 seemed too far away for UberEats to deliver to Stanmore. Ari White from Wandering Que is another American smoker. Starting in Texas, it is now headquartered in New Jersey and serves communities across the United States. With catering events and food trucks a part of his empire, I can definitely smell a trip to the States for our 30th anniversary – “this is research for your hobby, Tony!”

Far from Tony and his laissez-faire attitude towards wood, Andrew showed me his wooden “library” at the bottom of his garden next to the smokehouse. It obtains its cherry, seasoned oak, plum, apple, pecan, whiskey cask and mesquite wood from an organic and sustainable forestry supplier. Also a competent carpenter, he cuts and manufactures his own pasture boards. A bit more sophisticated than Tony with all the pickles he can take from the fridge, Andrew uses strictly measured recipes with only the highest quality ingredients. He imported a commercial smokehouse the size of a walk-in freezer from the United States; no boy scout method for him.

Andrew smokes both fish and meat

Their methods may differ somewhat, but what both smokers have in common is that neither can meet their demand. Andrew did not reveal how much he earns and sells per week, but he did share that his Facebook group has over 2.5,000 members. If you join the Blue Smoke group, you’ll be able to access the menus and be transported to a world of dino ribs, lacon, duck breast and crispy burnt ends. It doesn’t stop at meat, producing treats such as Loch Duart Salmon Gravadlax and Scottish Steelhead Trut Pastrami. Want to get naughty? There is a range of homemade condiments to accompany the main event. You won’t find Andrew’s treats in the delicatessens of North West London, but if you find yourself in Holland Park pop into the Supermarket of Dreams and you might just be in luck.

Seth Kami, president and founder of Big Onion Walking Tours in New York, is an amateur smoker. He explained that smoking meat dates back thousands of years and is a form of preservation. It is also a way to improve the taste of less flavorful cuts/chunks and softer, easier to eat cheap cuts. Americans take their smoking of meat very seriously and, according to Seth, there are two rules of thumb: “low and slow”. It uses a combination of well seasoned wood and quality charcoal made from natural wood – hickory or cherry for the beef and apple for the chicken. Mr. Krausz might be interested to learn that Seth recently acquired a used American oak cask that aged Bourbon for a decade and then spent 12 years aging Caribbean rum. Apparently, after breaking the barrel and drying the staves for six months, it imparts a unique sweet flavor. Wow, that’s serious smoking.

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