For Chris Corrigan, there’s much more to offering great tasting food at his restaurant than simply following a recipe. It’s about authenticity. Chris understands the value of combining his passion for the craft of southern barbecue with sourcing as many of his ingredients as locally as possible.
For over four years, Chris and his family have owned and operated The Lancaster Smokehouse in Kitchener, Ontario. The “Lanc”, as it is affectionately known, was not his first venture into either the world of running a restaurant or owning a business. Chris was the previous pit-master at Hog Tails BBQ, also in Kitchener, and before that managed his family’s office supply business.
Customers who visit the restaurant get a sense of that authenticity as soon as they walk through the door. Meats are smoked in house by Chris and his team and the unmistakable aroma of southern barbecue hangs comfortably in the air. According to Chris, “All of our meats are sourced exclusively from Ontario farmers and smoked over 100% hickory hardwood.”
Supporting local family farmers is vitally important to Chris. After all, as a business owner himself, he understands some of the challenges that come with the territory. Chris lays it out simply: “How can I expect my community to support my local business unless I do the same with my suppliers?”
But as a responsible business operator, his support is not given arbitrarily. On the contrary, his customers have high expectations and therefore so does Chris. He’s always working to educate himself more about what he buys and uses in his kitchen.
Take for example his recent trip to a family-run pig farm in Perth County, Ontario. Like many people, Chris had never been to a pig farm. It provided an opportunity to ask questions directly to the farmer, to see how the animals are responsibly handled and to get a sense of how pigs are fed.
Many consumers are unsure about the quality of the feed used in pig production in Ontario. Unfortunately, false myths still persist. Farmers use a balanced diet based mostly on corn and soybeans. This helps not only to provide the appropriate nutrition for pigs but also ensures the consistency and flavor of the pork. In reality, the food pigs eat is perfectly safe for human consumption. A fact made poignantly clear on his visit to the farm -- Chris observed: “the farmer scooped up some of the pig feed and ate it himself!”
But education works both ways. As a passionate entrepreneur he embraces the opportunity to share what he has learned with those around him. When Chris recently welcomed a group of hog farmers to his restaurant they were given a lesson in retail pork utilization by the master himself. They learned the care and attention that’s required on behalf of the restaurant operator to bring great food to the tables of hundreds of patrons night after night.
Since meats are slow cooked at the Lancaster Smokehouse, it’s not uncommon for them to run out of an item if it has been a particularly busy day. Pork ribs spend roughly 4-6 hours in the smokehouse and shoulders are slow cooked over night to achieve the right consistency and flavor for incredible pulled-pork sandwiches.
In addition to developing an impressive following, The Lancaster Smokehouse has attracted the interest of both local and national media. They have been featured on the popular Food Network television show “You Gotta Eat Here!” and profiled by local Kitchener-Waterloo food writer Andrew Coppolino.
The Lancaster Smokehouse proudly shows their support of Ontario’s pork farmers by displaying the check-mark logo on their front entrance. Customers expect great food. But conscientious operators, like Chris, also understand the importance of supporting local farmers.
Location: 574 Lancaster St. W., Kitchener Ontario
Connect: Twitter @lancsmokehouse // Facebook The Lancaster Smokehouse