Posted By Mike Smith

Pickles Gourmet Deli Smokehouse

I started making Corned Beef here in Chiang Mai about 8-9 years ago. The reason I started making Corned Beef, is that I had an insatiable desire to have a Corned Beef sandwich and of course I couldn’t get one here in Chiang Mai. Also at that time, Corned Beef was unavailable in Thailand. So I was left with only one option ‘produce it myself’! Honestly speaking, I never intended to make Corned Beef for anyone but myself.
But about 2 years later I had to go to Bangkok. That night I went to play pool with a Thai friend of mine. Subsequently, he introduced me to a guy who was from New York. We all sat down and had a couple of drinks together. Then we started talking about food from the U.S. that we missed. (The Unobtainables as it were). Of course Corned Beef was one of those that was high on the list. Naturally, I volunteered that I had perfected a New York Style quality Corned Beef, here in Thailand and that I had already fulfilled my dreams. The man was noticeably taken aback and asked if I wouldn’t mind making him a kilo of Corned Beef when I ran my next batch. I said “sure” and cooked up a kilo for him.
On my next trip to Bangkok I called him up (about 10am) and told him that I had brought the Corned Beef he ordered and to drop by my Hotel to pick it up. He did.
Later in the day (around 5-6pm) he phoned to ask me how he should heat it up. I told him to ‘nuke it’ for about 30 seconds or until he hears the first ‘pop’.  About a half hour later I phoned him back to check if everything was alright and to see if he liked it. Well, he was completely beside himself, shouting deliriously and saying that my Corned Beef was “the best” “as good as Katzs’ Deli maybe better” and  that he “absolutely loved it ”.
Meanwhile, the next day (after he ate the last of it) I got an SMS from him stating that the Corned Beef was “better than sex, though sex will undoubtedly launch a comeback” and whenever I make more to please include him. He concluded by saying he would inform his friends and would give them my number.
A few days later (after I returned to Chiang Mai) my phone started    ringing off the hook for Corned Beef orders. People also were asking if I could make them Pastrami. This I had to decline. At the time my wife was pregnant and we were living in a one room apartment. We cooked the Corned Beef off of our tiny balcony and all I could make was Corned Beef. Pastrami seemed too distant for me. As I needed a smoker to produce real Pastrami! But no one seemed to mind that I couldn’t make Pastrami and the orders for the Corned Beef kept pouring in.
After my son, Kevin, was born the apartment grew too small for the three of us and we were forced to appropriate better living conditions. Consequently, that’s when we moved to our present location. My wife had a friend of ours build a very small (15 gallon drum) smoker for us. And then, we tried to make Pastrami. As luck would have it, it came out just right. After the Pastrami the natural progression for us (and the smoker) was to smoke ribs and other BBQ meats. I then decided to design and build a smoker that would be able to accommodate 60-80 kilos. We started to smoke everything with great success.
And PICKLES  was born.


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