It would be appropriate that Black Bear BBQ was born from the flames. Followers of the ‘low ‘n’ slow’ style of Texan barbecue that produces a slice of brisket that melts in your mouth before you’ve been able to engage your canines, Black Bear stays true to the core ethos of this school of cooking, and now, it’s coming to the big smoke.
Haydn Graham, one third of the founding trio, recalls that the first spark for the Black Bear enterprise was lit in the most fitting of ways, “We used to take a small Radar Hill smoker camping so wherever we went camping we'd use it.”
Along with Graham at the coal face are the two other founding fathers, Ben Huppatz and Glen Ellis, and all three share an intimate bond.
“It's pretty funny. I married Ben's sister and then Ben and Glen both married twins, so it’s sort of all interconnected, but quite legal I assure you.”
But luckily for us Black Bear isn’t just for family, the Blacktown institution serves a serious need, which, as Graham notes, all three had identified.
“Being tradies, going from job to job trying to find good food places in Sydney to stop at, there wasn't anything that filled that hole for us. So the idea just came up over a couple of campfires, why not create this sort of thing?”
This attitude initially led Graham to building the very smokers that he needed, “the first three or four barbecues I made out of gas tanks and forty-four gallon drums,” but when the order started to roll in, a bigger piece of machinery was needed, “when you start really wanting a lot of volume you've got to get the bigger fabrication shops to do it.”
From their location on Forge St in Blacktown’s industrial heartland, the doors open at 6am for brekkie egg rolls filled with slices of brisket or pork belly and by midday the establishment is serving boxes of brisket, chicken maryland or pork, often accompanied by hot links, a slow cooked spicy pork sausage stuffed with cheese. All of these can be washed down with Black Drum Roasters coffee.
While the hands of Graham, Huppatz and Ellis may no longer be forging the barbecues, their presence be felt in the process that these meats go through, cooked on Queensland ironbark for up to twelve hours with a salt and pepper rub.
Starting July 13, Black Bear is bringing all of this to the Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park. A larger area requires a larger smoker but also allows for a couple of additions to the Black Bear menu. As Graham highlights, “We struggle here in Blacktown with sides, just the fact that it's space and time. Down there's going to give us space and time so we'll be able to offer some sides we're really excited about.”
Some of the new sides might be drinkable too, “my idea is to have some sort of Sunday recovery session on the lawn, champagne barbecue breakfast.”
While meat and fire might be a combination known since the dawn of mankind, Black Bear are perfecting this marriage one slice at a time.
Black Bear BBQ
11/27 Forge St
Mon – Fri 6am – 2pm
Fri 6.30pm – late