Hey guys! I just wanted to introduce myself and tell you a little about what I'm up to here.
I'm a "chef" (went to culinary school and have worked in restaurants and catering), and I have recently moved down to Mexico while my wife "pays back"a scholarship she got from her (Mexican) government. We will be here at least another year or so, and we agreed that I'd get to do the things I want/like to do to make money while here.
What's that mean? Instead of working in an office like I've done for most of the last 7 years, I am in the process of opening a little restaurant (my investment is less than $7000US.
The restaurant will focus on the kind of BBQ I grew up on: Santa Maria style Tri-Tip over Red Oak, along with other Central Coast favorites like Portuguese Linguica, herbed chicken breast, etc. For that project I am in the middle of a fabrication of a closed grill made from a 500 Liter Propane Tank. I took inspiration from the smokers people have built with them, and worked with an engineer to make sure we get enough air into the thing to keep temperatures in the high 300F range. Since it is not really a smoker, I did not think to bring it to the forum.
That said, as I've worked up a (very small so far) social network, and through that network, some opportunities to sell sausages and other cured meats has presented itself. I have experience in making sausages in the kitchen at work, as well as for home consumption, and I've used commercial smokers, a UDS and a simple sidebox smoker in the past. My father in law owns a cheese company (about 1000 lbs a day, nothing crazy) down here, and has quite a bit of equipment and materials. Based on the opportunities that have presented themselves to me, I'd like to start smoking some traditional Mexican Cheeses (Asadero, Chihuahua, Oaxaca, etc) and see what kind of market I can create there. I'd also like to start making Bacon as I have been really unhappy with the quality of the belly bacon down here. I'm mostly here to figure out from those of you who have been there, and done that, what kind of build would be appropriate for a cold smoker in a hot desert.
I have quite a bit of building materials in the form of cinder block available to me, and nights here are relatively cool as we are in the high desert. Hopefully we can have a little fun and learn from one another.
Thanks in advance for your patient replies and all the knowledge you bring to the forum!