Barbecuing with Briskets: Tale of the Kochinfoodie

Going after the childhood curiosity, a tryst with passion, when the desire meets the seeker and he lives his dream. This is a moment that not a lot of us can boast about. Courage and faith in your instincts lead you forward to that uncertain tomorrow when the disagreements are replaced by applause and disbelief from the viewers turn to wonder. That tomorrow, when people hunt for a taste of your success, the same old people who questioned you yesterday.

Living that dream is Joel Rebbi a.k.a the Kochinfoodie, winning our hearts and taste buds with his exhilarating expertise in the culinary magic with his iconic briskets. His is a tale of persistence, of how faith in oneself and the courage to pursue the dream can pave one’s way to the glorious road of success.

When did you realize that you had a flair for food and food vlogging.

As a kid, I used to watch food shows from channels like the TLC along with my family, and we all were into food. We even used to think about how lucky all those anchors on food shows were.. as they got to travel and eat. So, even though I never thought of becoming one then, I accidentally became one. I started off at a good pace around 5 years back.  Back then; I didn’t even know that something or someone like a food blogger was a real profession and five years later, restaurants, and followers started calling me one…and here I am

Tell us about yourself, your background and your previous ventures.

 My name is Joel Rebbi and I’m the proud owner of the Instagram page “Kochinfoodie”. I’m an engineering graduate who was passionate about food and wanted to make a difference in the food culture here by bringing up something different. I started by making steaks and slowly moved to making barbecue from my home balcony 4 years back and about 2.5 years back, I started selling Texas-style pulled-pork, and now, after 5 years of Kochinfoodie, I’m now doing bbq as my full-time job. You can catch me at @kochinfoodie on Instagram or search for “Rebbi’s House Of Barbecue” on Instagram from my bbq related posts. And yes, that’s the name of my future restaurant.

Good food go along with great stories. Do you have a wonderful story that you came across in one of your food travels?

 I don’t know if it’s a wonderful story, but once my friend and I searched the whole (almost the north part) of Goa for a good thick slab of steak, as seen in the movies and American food shows. We couldn’t find any. I searched a lot of other places and was unsuccessful in finding one. That is when I thought of making it by myself. The process took time but I was eventually successful in making it. And then, I decided to take my skills to the next level- by venturing out to the American barbecue.

What are the challenges that you faced when you set out to pursue this passion?

Barbecue was completely new to everyone around me. I’m talking about the American barbecue and steaks, briskets, and not the grills that we get here. When I introduced this thought to people, no one knew what I was talking about. The same was the case even with food blogging- when I started it off, no one here knew that it was even a thing. Initially, I had no support. Getting the right cut and quality meat was another challenge, pricing was another. But I had to go forward hoping that one day, things would turn out well, and years later here I am- getting the right cuts, and today everyone accepts and appreciates what I do. 

There are events when it takes years to master a dish. Do you have such a delicacy that took you years to perfect in?

I started barbecuing with briskets. It was horrible- inedible, hard and tough like a tarred rock- you could kill someone by throwing this at them. It was one of the worst bbq I ever made. But I knew brisket was something that was supposed to be mind-blowing, as seen on tv and YouTube videos. Yes, getting the cut was tough too. But even though it took time, I slowly worked towards getting the briskets right. And four years later, I am known for my brisket which has got a waiting time for up to a few weeks.

Tell us about your experiments with briskets, which happens to be a very unique story that you have in your journey as a food vlogger.

As I said, I started it off making the worst dish you could possibly imagine and for briskets, I did a lot of research by following a lot of interviews and videos online. Going through all the reading of the temperature and other specifics, I used to note things down- the timing when the climate is humid, wet or dry, when the meat is lean or fatty when the wood is wet or dry . I realized that the videos I saw on YouTube were mostly deceiving- that would never work. Finally, four years later, I finally cracked the code to briskets which is now my best selling item.

Being in the limelight puts you into the process of constant criticism. How you do you react to your critics?

By God’s grace, people appreciate the effort and they love the food that I make. But at times, people do go against this.- some say it’s expensive and I tell them why and what makes it expensive and they appreciate it when they get to know about what goes behind the scenes. Most critics are those who don’t know much about this type of barbecue. Some of them have this ‘alfaham mentality’ and I educate them on how this is made and what makes it different from alfaham. Very few have complained about the smokiness of my product- thinking it’s burnt. But I tell them that the very same is the specialty of this type of bbq- it’s super smoky. What I know is that this is completely new here and it’ll take a bit more time for people to get along with the price and items. Critics are usually the ones who need to know this, and I try to tell them all I know about this and they end up ordering over and over again. 

What are your future plans for food vlogging? What other hobbies do you pursue outside of this?

Food blogging is my side hobby. I’m a pitmaster. A pitmaster is someone who has mastered the art of barbecue. So, my plan is to set up an authentic American bbq restaurant in Kochi. I also sell my items by taking orders through my Instagram page and when I am free from the barbecue tasks, I go out to eat. That’s where my hobby starts- the food blogging part. In the future, I plan to create good content and discover many more cuisines that are extremely new here and get successful at that too. 

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