It’s the end of the season at Smorgasburg, with only one market left until we rejigger things for the winter (and return next spring bigger, better and more delicious than ever!). So we thought we’d profile one of Smorgasburg’s breakout stars, and declare the first unofficial winner of Smorgasburg’s Longest Line Award…. Mighty Quinn’s BBQ!
All season long, the queue for Mighty Quinn’s was the longest of all, and smart brisket-lovers knew to arrive no later than 1pm to score a sandwich. (Brisket for breakfast was a familiar refrain among the other vendors at the market.) We once watched a couple dozen people get soaked in a sudden downpour because they refused to run for cover and lose their spots in line. Hugh Mangum of Mighty Quinn’s became instantly famous around these parts for his incredible brisket, ribs, pork, lamb and chili, not to mention the beast of a smoker that he pulls into the lot every weekend (pictured above, it weighs more than 4,000 lbs!).
Originally from Los Angeles, Hugh currently resides in New Jersey with his wife and children. But let it be said that BBQ is in his blood: “I learned the love of Q from my father who was a native Texan. I learned everything by osmosis through watching him as a kid, and reading his notes and recipes after he passed away. He’s basically my copilot.”
Hugh is a trained chef (French Culinary Institute) and a star of the screen too. He’s seen cooking in the film Julia & Julia and appears as Michael Symon’s sous chef on the Cooking Channel show “Cook Like an Iron Chef.” It wasn’t fame but a family connection that brought him to the Flea—Hugh’s cousin Adam runs The Vintage Industrial, a Flea furniture vendor, and it was Adam who encouraged him to apply. “I didn’t expect anything,” Hugh claims. “I showed up the first time on July 3rd expecting to have an interesting experience. I thought I would feed my family and friends whatever was left over for the 4th of July. It went better than expected! Every Saturday following I have been really lucky, truly fortunate.”
Besides his dad’s Texas wisdom, what inspires his particular variety of BBQ? He goes for a style that he calls “Texalina,” which is a cross between the authentic Texas BBQ he grew up with and the eastern Carolina methods he learned from his wife Laura, who hails from North Carolina. “My true approach is simple,” Hugh says. “I’m trying to source the best quality ingredients and not fuss with them too much. Cooking the old school way, with wood and time. It’s pretty transparent, there just aren’t a lot of people out there that will tend a fire for 20 hours day after day. Essentially I am a masochist with salt and sauce.”
We are sadistically pleased then, to announce that Hugh will continue to suffer his fiery fate, when Mighty Quinn’s returns to the Flea throughout the winter, on Sundays at One Hanson. Look for the giant two-ton smoker outside, and know that some of the city’s finest ‘cue is now available all year long.