In Little Havana, a small enclave of artistry is popping up on SW 12th Avenue. A few art galleries have opened, along with a double storefront that houses a few tables and one large carnival-like sign that simply says "Beer."
This is the home of Miami Smokers, the vision of Andres Barrientos and James Bowers, longtime friends who saw a need for a smokehouse in Miami. Barrientos explains, "Jimbo's was the only smokehouse in Miami, and when it was gone, we saw a need."
The two were working at Aaron's Catering and doing a pop-up brunch when Barrientos, who is still executive chef at Aaron's, and Bowers began curing bacon from quality, heritage pork for their customers. A hit, the bacon was then sold at farmers' markets and marketed to restaurants.
The Federal, Blue Collar, Michael Mina 74, and the Fontainebleau carry Miami Smokers bacon, but with success come stumbling blocks. The Miami Smokers facility is at its production maximum.
Barrientos and Bowers are planning the construction of a state-of-the-art USDA curing facility and an artisans curing center that can be used by chefs and local artisans to produce charcuterie in a controlled and monitored environment. The expansion would also allow Miami Smokers to sell to retail clients and ship products. The design plans are already underway, and permits should be filed by January 2014. An outdoor beer garden is also in the works.
Barrientos and Bowers launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds, with a goal of $25,000 by January 3, 2014. So far, just more than $4,000 has been pledged. If you want to help Miami get its own smokehouse, you can back the "Bacon Boys" by visiting Kickstarter.com.
You can pledge as little as $6, but a $33 pledge gets you ten pounds of Miami Smokers vintage bacon (as well as a host of other goodies such as smoked salt, stickers, a koozie, and a "shout-out"). Miami play-ahs who pledge $5,000 will get a pig roast with all the fixings for 50 people or a gourmet dining experience for 20 people.
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So if your New Year's resolution is to eat more pork, get cracklin' and help fund a local business that's really smoking.