Smoked meat dream finally comes true for Yukon man with pig tattoo

“It seems like something that everybody is really excited about, the first real true blue southern style barbecue restaurant.”

15 years later Yukon chef returns home bringing southern style barbecue with him

Born and raised Yukoner Raymond Magnuson has returned to Whitehorse and he's brought southern-style barbecue with him. (George Maratos/CBC)

Raymond Magnuson loves barbecue especially smoking meat, so much so that he got a permanent reminder on his right inner bicep.

There lies a tattoo of a pig, more specifically, a sow.

"I love smoking meat, I always have," said Magnuson.

I'm still in shock that it's never been done here in the Yukon.- Raymond Magnuson

Now Magnuson is professing his love for smoked meats in another fashion, by way of food truck.

The born and raised Yukoner is the owner, operator and head chef of Smoke and Sow, Whitehorse's newest food truck offering.

Smoke and Sow marks a first in the Whitehorse food truck world, southern-style barbecue.

It opened two weekends ago and the response has exceeded Magnuson's expectations.

"I went into my opening weekend thinking I would do well but I did not think I would sell out in less than an hour, it's been fantastic."

This brisket smokes for 16 hours and is one of many meat options offered at Smoke and Sow (George Maratos/CBC)

Smoke and Sow is not only the first food truck to offer southern-style barbecue in the territory but the first restaurant in general.

"It's something that I'm still in shock that it's never been done here in the Yukon," said Magnuson. "It seems like something that everybody is really excited about, the first real true blue southern style barbecue restaurant."

Bringing barbecue north, no easy task

Magnuson's efforts to bring southern barbecue north to his hometown has not come without challenges.

Fifteen years ago he moved from Whitehorse to Calgary to attend school, with plans to return soon after — but his culinary ambitions said otherwise.

A Red Seal chef, he began working in fine dining establishments but with few options to do so in Whitehorse he stayed in Calgary.

Then, about two years ago Magnuson decided it was time to return home.

His intention was to open a southern barbecue restaurant but after a few too many differences of opinion with his business partner the restaurant idea was quashed.

Magnuson spent the next year and half working out in the bush, his southern barbecue dream put on hold, but never dead.

He saved money.

Then when a friend's truck, originally purchased to service a brewery, became available Magnuson pounced.

A few tweaks and modifications and his restaurant on wheels was born.

Smoke and Sow is the first food truck in the Yukon to offer southern-style barbecue. (George Maratos/CBC)

Magnuson says his decision to go food truck was driven more because of a lack of options as opposed to a desire to be a food truck operator.

"To open up a restaurant you are looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars to get all of your equipment, your food, everything set up off the ground," said Magnuson. "Whereas the food truck overhead is pretty much zero, it's just buying the truck and keeping food in the truck."

Or so he thought.

Just keeping food in the truck let alone getting it to the truck has been more challenging than expected.

"I wanted the meat to be local but given the amount of product that we are putting out it just isn't possible."

Instead, the chicken, sausage and of course sow, is shipped from Alberta by way of Yukon distributors G&P.

It's beyond anything I could have imagined.- Raymond Magnuson

Magnuson called on his connections in the Calgary food industry to help with sourcing of meats.

Then came the challenge associated with cooking the meat by way of a smoker.

Searching across Canada, Magnuson eventually had to go to the United States for his custom wood blend, made specific to his smoking needs.

Whitehorse's 'strange' food truck rules

Finally, Magnuson has had to get used to the city's "strange" rules around food trucks.

For one, he can only park in a dedicated spot.

"If the business isn't there in a big city you can move, go find the business whereas here the spot I'm in now is where I'm allowed to go," said Magnuson.

Smoke and Sow is the first food truck to offer southern-style barbecue in Whitehorse (CBC/George Maratos)

Despite all the obstacles and speed bumps Magnuson says the work he's put in to make his southern-style barbecue dreams a reality has been worth it and Yukoners seem to agree,

"It's been beyond anything I could have hoped for," said Magnuson. 


George Maratos

Associate Producer

George Maratos is a reporter and associate producer at CBC Yukon with more than a decade of experience covering the North.