There are some unique food offerings in the Timmins area. One of the last things you expect to find is authentic southern barbecue available year-round.
Thanks to Dale Dupras, owner of Get Ribbed Smokehouse and BBQ Pit, mouth-watering ribs and much more are served up to residents and visitors, even in the winter.
Dupras is in his sixth season of business. His career was in sales, but when he left the profession Dupras pursued his passion for barbecue. He wanted local residents to enjoy real-deal, southern barbecue, with no cooking shortcuts. His wood-fuelled cooker was custom-made in Houston, Texas.
“I use apple wood, black cherry, maple — fruit woods,” Dupras said. “I do not use chips (or pellets). It’s a wood-fired pit.”
It takes time and effort to get that smoke flavour in the food.
“You have to prep your ribs,” he said. “You take the skin off the back. You rub them. Some people soak them in apple juice, some guys do all kinds of brines. I just do a nice dry rub on it.
“On the cooker, you’re looking at about four or five and a half hours, depending on the temperature outside.”
The ribs are also basted during their time on the smoker.
There are other delicious selections offered at Get Ribbed.
“I have ribs every day that I’m open,” he said. “I have a loaded smoked mac and cheese, with burnt ends and pulled pork done on the cooker. Pulled pork. All my sausages are made in-house — jalapeno cheddar and cheddar. I do a mild Italian.
“Everything is done from scratch. I do my own grind, my own rubs, my own sauce. Nothing is brought in done. I prep my chicken and ribs on Monday and start cooking on Tuesday.
“It’s all in-house prepped, rubs are made with spices here. Same with the chickens. They’re prepped with a nice dry rub … they are really moist on this cooker.”
One specialty is only done during good weather.
“I do a brisket in the summertime. I don’t do it in the winter,” Dupras said. “I’ve tried a couple times in winter. Not feasible with the weather.
“A brisket on this cooker, I don’t just do one, I’ll do four at a time. They are all between 12- and 14-pound briskets. You’re looking — in the summertime, when you’re running perfectly — you’re looking at 18-24 or 26 hours.
“When I tried in the winter, I was looking at 36 hours. It was way too much work. You have to burn way too much wood at that point.”
With the cooker outside, it took some experimentation to perfect its use in cold weather.
“The whole thing was learning how to cook in the winter,” Dupras said. “No one I know of in the south has to cook in this kind of weather. It was something I had to grapple with myself and figure out.”
Even the best Q masters in the south don’t have to face Timmins winter weather.
“I tell them there’s three feet of snow and with the windchill it is minus 38,” he said. “They would laugh at me and say call me back when the snow melts.”
Get Ribbed also has a variety of side dishes, but don’t expect to find French fries here.
“Smoked mac and cheese. I do a regular smoked mac and cheese, a jalapeno smoked mac and cheese and now a loaded smoked mac and cheese,” he said. “I also do smoked beans and smoked jalapeno and smoked sriracha bean. With sides, we’re not a fries place with grease and onion rings.
“I have a nice creamy coleslaw and potato salads. In summertime, we also bring out macaroni salads and stuff like that. I also have a smoked chicken Caesar salad.
“I have to watch what I put on my menu because I’m by myself. If I overwhelm myself, then my customers aren’t happy.”
In 2019, Get Ribbed was recognized in Best Takeaway for the First Ontario Food Awards. Things were going well, then the pandemic hit.
“I was gearing up for the best summer (before COVID),” he said. “It didn’t play well for the food industry. I put on a delivery. It helped a little bit.
“The revenue through the door dropped big time, but your bills remained the same. They even went up because things got more expensive.
“I’m thinking that anyone who has got this far should be OK as long as things go good this summer and keep going. “
A number of out-of-town visitors have made Get Ribbed a must-visit spot.
“Actually, what’s kept me going, social media brought me business from Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and the East Coast,” he said. “I had someone from the east coast give me a call and I thought it was a joke. They were calling for delivery. Then she said, no, you misunderstand. I want it delivered to my family in Timmins.
“I got a good chuckle out of that. That’s pretty cool.”
Dupras has no regrets about opening his Smokehouse.
“I enjoy the satisfaction of people with what I’m putting out the door as a product,” he said. “Also, the freedom to run your own business. In my case, this is so different from everybody else. I’m not tied to 7 o’clock in the morning hours for breakfast. I’ve tried lunch, but it’s turning into a dinnertime, from 3 o’clock on. I still get some for lunch. I’ve tried that, but it’s a little overwhelming by myself and people really don’t have that much time for lunch.”
As long as the support is there, he plans to keep on cooking outdoors year-round.
“I can’t think of anyone else in Northeastern Ontario who is doing it exactly like this,” Dupras said. “I wanted to do something authentic.
“I love what I’m doing and I want to do it in Timmins. I know I could have brought things south and probably have 20 employees and doing 100 times the business. But my idea was that I’m from Timmins, born and raised, and we’ve never had anything up there that is special like that. I think I found something that people like.”
Get Ribbed Smokehouse and BBQ Pit is located at 999 Riverside Dr. and can be reached at 705 268-7427. It is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Find them on Facebook here.