So far we have done Meet the Chef and Meet the Family stories. Today it’s Meet the Team from Food & Fire BBQ ~Tap House in Johnson City. The team consists of three long-time friends, Jeff Tiderencel, Dan Polhamus and Jose Moreira with each of them bringing their own unique talents to the company. Jeff started in the restaurant business working for the famed local restauranteur, Dar Tiffany and went on to a very successful food service management career working his way up to a regional management position overseeing restaurants throughout the entire Northeast.
Like so many other successful local food service professionals, Dan started in the business as a dishwasher in a local pizzeria and went on to learn all the other aspects of the business in a variety of opportunities from a Tex-Mex restaurant to Chili cooking competitions.
Jose brings another whole dimension to the business. The consummate operations guy, he brings an invaluable balance to the team. Like so many others in our community, Jose was lured to the area by Binghamton University where he received both a B.S. and an M.B.A. degree.
Your first question may be, how did they come up with the name Food & Fire and how does it tie in with Ben Franklin? Well, it seems that Dan has always been a fan of Franklin and his many witticisms and came across the following quote “A house is not a home unless it contains FOOD & FIRE for the mind as well as the body.” Bingo! As they mulled over the quote they realized that had found both the name of the new restaurant and a catchy slogan.
Once the decision was made to move forward with the restaurant the real work began. From the logistics of dining room layout to researching and installing just the right kind of smoker, aka, “The Pit”, hammering out the details was a daunting task. All the barbecue recipes from the rubs to the side dishes were painstakingly developed, tested and retested. That also goes for the four sauces that appear on every table. The sauces are developed by starting with a “mother sauce” and building out from there. They’re also integrated into the side dish recipes whenever possible to complete the barbecue experience.
One of the fun aspects of running a barbecue house is answering questions and explaining the difference between grilling which is cooking over direct high heat and barbecuing with is cooking low and slow with just the right amount of smoke, which in the case of Food & Fire comes from a combination of cherry and hickory. The other two frequently asked questions pertain to chicken and ribs. The smoking process completely cooks chicken to the requisite 165°, but due to a chemical reaction best explained by Jeff, the end result has a pink hue and is often considered undercooked, but the instant read thermometer is the chef’s best friend and doesn’t lie. When it comes to ribs, some folks look for a “fall off the bone” finish. But this is what one barbecue expert said “Number one, ‘falling off the bone’ means that the ribs are overcooked. A properly cooked BBQ Rib should be moist and tender yet yield just enough so that when you bite into it you see a rounded bite mark with the bone turning white almost immediately” and that’s exactly how you’ll find the ribs at Food & Fire.
But what would good barbecue be without the right beverage to accompany it? Food & Fire features 40 craft beers on tap. Just like pairing wine with food, pairing the right beer with your barbecue is a similar art. For example, if you like spicy they will match up the beer that best compliments your dish and sauce. And if you’re not familiar with craft beers, the staff will provide a “taste” of what they think you might like to help you pin down your selection.
As Ben Franklin said, “A house is not a home unless it contains FOOD & FIRE for the mind as well as the body.” When you stop by Food & Fire BBQ ~Tap House in Johnson City you’ll please both your mind and your body.