BBQ'd Productions chefs score championship, cook up new menu
Newly crowned Culinary Fight Fest champion Kris Schoenberger isn't about to rest on his laurels.
The owner of BBQ'd Productions took top honors in both the Culinary Fight Fest and Final Plate competition in Chicago earlier this month. Now he is upping his game with a new menu sure to wow customers at his Third Lake and Lake Zurich restaurants.
"We're bringing some more chef-centric dishes to the menu," said Schoenberger, whose double-rubbed, double-smoked burnt ends, slow-smoked brisket and signature sauces have been building a loyal following since 2009.
The new menu not only features more burgers, wraps and fish dishes with a smokehouse flair, it also incorporates Schoenberger's support for law enforcement into menu items' names. Take, for instance, the 10-99 steak -- the 10-code for "wanted." Or the 10-51 section of the menu: flatbreads (the code stands for flatbed truck or wrecker).
"We were looking to both have fun with it and honor the hardworking men and women in blue," said Schoenberger, who worked for an area police department before venturing into the barbecue business.
Schoenberger's easy smile grows when he talks about his third round as a finalist in the Chicago Culinary Fight Fest. For him, the third time definitely was the charm. His wagyu brisket slider topped with chimichurri sauce and paired with Asian king crab leg coleslaw took best bite honors from a field of 23 chefs at Lacuna Lofts Oct. 6. That placed him in the finals, in which he and three other chefs had 45 minutes to put their best spin on the provided ingredients: bone-in chicken thighs, thick-cut bacon, spicy bacon sausage and bagged kidney beans.
Using just salt, pepper and a spice called keystone, Schoenberger and his team -- including chefs Chris Quiles and John Hawkins -- nailed it.
"I started crying," Schoenberger said of the announcement that they had won. "I didn't go to chef school. I just cook from my heart ... I'm that kid from a small town who was bullied all his life for being overweight. Now I'm the 2019 culinary champ, and it feels good.
"With our new menu, we want to show what we're truly capable of as chefs while incorporating barbecue into each dish," he continued. "Those who've been here are going to love it even more, and those who haven't have even more reason for checking us out."
Schoenberger employs just more than 100 people at his restaurants, both of which also offer full drink menus, including signature cocktails such as the choose-your-bourbon Smoked Manhattan. The Third Lake location is at 34121 Route 45. The Lake Zurich restaurant is at 405 N. Rand Road. Both are open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Those interested can learn more at www.wegrillitall.com, or download BBQ'd Productions' free mobile app.