No one was more surprised than Dale Dupras about his nomination for a provincial award.
His business, Get Ribbed Smokehouse and BBQ, has been nominated in the category of Best Takeaway for the First Ontario Food Awards, being held July 15 in Toronto. Get Ribbed is one of nine businesses from across the province nominated for Best Takeaway.
“I’m up against restaurants in the southern area with amazing population base,” Dupras said. “It was something I wasn’t shooting for. If I was trying to make that happened, it wouldn’t have happened in a million years.
“Be like a bull moose put your head down and go forward.”
Eight other businesses are nominated for Best Takeaway. They include restaurants from Toronto, North York, Kitchener, Waterloo, Niagara Falls, Vanier, North Bay and Thunder Bay.
Dupras started Get Ribbed following a career in sales.
“I ended up unemployed because of a medical situation. I decided I wasn’t going to look for a job, but do something else,” he said. “This was never planned. It was a passion. I wanted to open a small business because I worked for people the past 30 or 40 years. I didn’t want to work for someone else. I wanted to work for myself.
“I was looking for something outside the box. I wanted to take authentic southern United States cooking and present it in a fast-food setting, but it’s not fast food.
“I’m not aware of anyone else in Northeastern Ontario that has this kind of food in a restaurant setting.”
He has always had a passion for barbecuing.
“I’ve been doing that all my life,” Dupras said. “The smoking part, the last 10 years or so, but the barbecuing, I’ve been doing that since I was a teenager, 13 or 14.”
His cooker was custom built in Houston, Texas. He makes all his own rubs, brines and sauces from scratch.
“I don’t order anything pre-seasoned,” Dupras said. “All the rubs are made in house. All the sauces are made in house.
“When I put something up on a menu, it is really hard for someone else in town to do it.
I wanted to put something in Timmins, to do something no one else was doing.
“The menu comes from all trial and error on this cooker. Some come from recipes that I modified or changed to make my own. I wanted to give people something different that they haven’t tasted up here.
“I started the menu with chicken and ribs. It has grown and changed to add other items.”
For example, he developed a roasted red pepper and garlic brisket pepper wrap. Dupras uses roasted red bell pepper and roasted garlic, pureed into a sauce with some spices, do it into a wrap with brisket, onions and old cheddar cheese.
“There is a special chicken I’m doing this summer,” he said. “It’s a barbecue chicken, brined in a black cherry based brine with a black cherry barbecue sauce.”
Cooking times vary for Dupras’ creations, because the cooker is outdoors.
“It depends on the (outside) temperature,” he explained. “In the summertime, brisket takes 17-20 hours. Ribs in the summer are usually five to seven hours. Sometimes the temperature outside dictates an extra hour or two.
“In the winter it was going on 27 hours for a brisket. I had to modify on those nights it was -20 or -30 C. Chicken, sausages and ribs, usually take six to 10 hours.
“I cook with fruit wood mainly, to get that extra flavour.”
He also has a wide range of side dishes to go with the main courses.
In January, Get Ribbed started its fourth year of business. Initially, the bulk of his customers were visitors from out of town who relied heavily on Trip Advisor reviews to select a restaurant. But word also spread locally through social media, so local business has also picked up.
“Timmins is supporting me, but it took a while to catch on,” he said. “I’m in a position where Timmins is there. It’s getting better and better with the local people.
“I added delivery. I made a deal with a local guy. I made more money putting delivery on than advertising.”
Dupras is glad to have found a way to make a living by doing something he enjoys.
“When I have a14 or 15-hour day, it doesn’t feel like it,” he said. “My body feels it, but it doesn’t seem like it.”
Get Ribbed Smokehouse and BBQ is open Wednesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is open Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. It is located at 999 Riverside Dr.