Meet Your Chef: Michael Campbell of Moe’s Original BBQ
Get to know your local Vail Valley chefs
Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily is showcasing area chefs in a new series called “Meet Your Chef” so you can learn a bit more about those creating art in the kitchen. If you’re a local chef and would like to be a part of this series, please email Tricia Swenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sean Naylor (email@example.com).
Q: What is your name, where do you cook and what is your official title?
A: My name is Michael Campbell and I am the general manager at Moe’s Original BBQ.
Q: How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?
A: Moving here five years ago from Alabama, I now call the valley home. Vacationing here throughout my early life, Colorado and a mountain lifestyle had always been a long-term goal of mine. Moe’s made that a reality.
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Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?
A: It wasn’t until later in life that I decided to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. My culinary career started at Moe’s Original BBQ in Huntsville, Alabama, where I began working there while pursuing a degree in chemical engineering. While working, I soon realized I enjoyed the whole experience of working at a restaurant. Then I decided to go all in and make this my chosen career field.
Q: Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?
A: My family has definitely had the biggest impact on my culinary journey. Growing up I was always in the kitchen learning a blend of cooking styles from my grandmother and mother who were and are magnificent cooks. These days I rely heavily on my younger brother Chris who I fortunately work with daily and my bosses at Moe’s, especially Mike Fernandez, who has taught me the most about the culinary arts and how to cook.
Q: What’s your favorite spice?
A: I utilize cumin, chili powder, garlic and other spices daily, with that being said I think that when cooking a great dish, it is all about balance and if a dish is not balanced, it’s simply not good. Salt is my favorite spice. When salt is balanced right in a dish, it becomes the shining star, bringing out the brightness in fresh summer salads and even enhancing the sweet factor in certain dishes like our bread pudding.
Q: Favorite protein?
A: PORK PORK PORK! Whether it’s our Boston butt, St. Louis style spare rib or a pork belly, the meat is untouchable. Pork has a wide range of uses in every type of kitchen. It is a very cost-effective protein but the shining feature of pork is definitely its flavor!
Q: Favorite fruits and veggies?
A: It’s hard to pick just one at the moment because as the seasons change your mind set about how you feel about a certain fruit or veggie also changes. Growing up in Alabama, I would have to say I’m definitely fond of fresh tomatoes, watermelons and peaches, which I still get to use daily here in Colorado.
Q: Name your carb: pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, etc.?
A: I use Yukon gold potatoes daily for potato salad, but its use doesn’t stop there. Whether it be a simple mashed potato, scalloped potatoes or potatoes au gratin, the starch factor with Yukon golds isn’t overwhelming, and the flavor is definitely there. Grits are definitely king in my book though, a high-quality, stone-ground grit cooked to perfection defines southern cuisine, which is what I’m all about.
Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?
A: My mother and grandmother came here from Brazil, so my brother and I grew up eating feijoada, which is stewed black beans served over rice. When I’m at home cooking for myself or for the people I love, this is something you are always going to find on the plate.
Q: Is there anything else about you we should share?
A: It’s hard to write about yourself and seems narcissistic at times, with that being said, the real spotlight should be about the fantastic team I work with at Moe’s Original BBQ and the awesome community in the Vail Valley we get to serve daily.