Chef Jarrad Silver
After much heralded stints as Executive Chef at Birch & Barley and helping open Kapnos, Jarrad Silver started Silver and Sons BBQ in November of 2020. At the time he saw it as an opportunity to scale back and cook for his friends and family, giving him the chance to spend more time with his two-year-old son while his wife worked in the ER during the height of the pandemic. Silver is marrying his knowledge of open-fire cooking and smoking with a background in Jewish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Cuisines to give a new take on American BBQ. The results have captured headlines and stoked a lot of excitement in and around the District. We caught up with Jarrad to hear more about what inspired him, the role his Jewish background played in coming up with the menu, and where things go from here.
Jarrad: I had never cooked American barbecue before, but I have a lot of experience with live fire cooking and smoking. I am pulling inspiration from my Jewish background as well as my years spent cooking Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. I am inspired by the heavy use of herbs and citrus in these cuisines. Using more acidity gives a lighter take on some of the heavier mayo-based sides that are typically found in traditional American barbecue. Another thing Middle Eastern cuisine lends itself to is intricate spice blends. I make all of the spice blends on my menu. It gives people the opportunity to try something familiar with a twist.
Jarrad: Every single order of barbecue comes with freshly made challah rolls. Typical barbecue comes with sliced white bread. My grandmother always had fresh bread on the table. Visiting her always meant waking up early and helping make some sort of biscuit for breakfast, or loaf for dinner. One day I might have to get a mixer, but for now each roll that people get with their food is made by hand the way my grandmother showed me.
Chef Jarrad Silver serving up challah rolls
Jarrad: I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, in a reform household. I went to Sunday school as a kid, became a Bar-Mitzvah, and went through confirmation class. Working in the restaurant industry has always made it tricky to be a part of a temple or close to the Jewish community. I am looking forward to when things calm down a bit and I can get more involved again. For now, I remember the importance of family, community, and respect for people.
Jarrad: I was the executive chef at Birch and Barley and Churchkey leading up to the pandemic. I worked hard to blend the local, seasonal ingredients with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern spices and cooking. Before that I worked with Mike Isabella Concepts and helped open many of the restaurants in that company. I was chef de cuisine at the three restaurants in Ballston; Kapnos Taverna, Pepita and Yona. Prior to that I was at the original Kapnos location in DC from its opening. I also helped open Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda.
Jarrad: Right now the food truck is still being fabricated. I am looking forward to getting it in the next month of two. Once I have the truck I will be participating in neighborhood cooks around Bethesda, Kensington and Silver Spring. These started during the pandemic and have been a great save for restaurants and food trucks. A community leader organizes a drop from a truck or restaurant and sends out the menu through a list serve. People can pre-order and sometimes order on-site depending on the location. I currently do a couple of these per week and look forward to expanding into more neighborhoods and into Virginia as well.
Jarrad: Though the meat is not kosher, I do try very hard to source responsibly from farms who have a reputation of providing a high quality of life for their animals. I do have both vegetarian and vegan items on my menu. I really enjoy working with vegetables and like having a lot of options for everyone.
Jarrad: I really enjoy talking to people. Working in DC restaurants was stressful, but a lot of fun too. A great dinner service is exciting. I never really thought about it much until I started doing these neighborhood drops, but I never really got that sense of community working in DC. When I am outside someone’s house, or in a school parking lot, I really get a great feeling of people coming together to enjoy food and company. It feels great to be part of and grow within the community.
I am working with a friend of mine on a local market we’re going to call Mensch’s Market. It will house the barbecue as well as focus on prepared foods, sandwiches, grab and go items, and a line of frozen family meals. We will stock our shelves with grocery and pantry items that are cross utilized with our kitchen. Expect to see house-made spice blends, salad dressing, sauces, pastas and more.
Jarrad: My favorite thing on the menu is either the pastrami short rib (brined for seven days, then crusted with coriander and a blend of peppercorns and cooked in the smoker), or the pulled lamb shoulder which is seasoned with a marinade of freshly ground garlic and ginger with fennel seed, coriander, cumin, and aleppo pepper.
Silver and Sons BBQ
Jarrad: I am just trying to have fun with the menu. There are some classics like mac and cheese, but then other items that you wouldn’t normally see: quinoa and brussels sprouts, tabbouleh instead of coleslaw, and smoked marshmallow s’mores rice krispie treats for desserts. I take the process very seriously on my end, but I want the menu to be fun to read and more fun to eat!
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