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Sanibel residents to be featured on television series

By Staff | May 25, 2016

Bart Smith explains the process of making homemade Low Country vinegar based coleslaw while being filmed. MEGHAN McCOY

Two Sanibel residents will be featured on a Hulu episode for winning a cooking competition earlier this year that benefited The Community House restoration campaign.

Bart Smith spent 20 hours cooking a ham into the morning hours of Friday, May 13, while Marc Yelenich spent a few days getting his barbecued rack of ribs ready for the filming of “Real Food Real Kitchens” television series, which they earned by raising the most money during the fundraiser, Cooking with the Island Stars. Both of the men credited Billy Kirkland, who is super supportive of The Community House, for claiming the winning prize.

“Billy is a huge asset to the island and a super generous person,” Yelenich said, adding that Kirkland encouraged him to participate in Cooking with the Island Stars event.

The friendship between Smith and Yelenich blossomed after Yelenich went fishing with Kirkland. Yelenich said he gave Smith a rack of ribs, which turned into a conversation of Smith enjoying barbecuing as well.

“We shared our food,” Yelenich said of their specialities.


Both Smith and Yelenich were filmed Friday for a segment that included the two gentleman barbecuing and preparing side dishes and sauces to complement their main dish at their Sanibel homes.

Craig Chapman, producer and creator of “Real Food Real Kitchens” brought a coworker with him as the two took live feed, and still pictures of the duo doing their thing for an episode on the televisions series. Chapman also interviewed them asking questions that further explored their love of barbecuing.

“It will be interesting to see how it all turns out,” Smith said of the filming. “I hope it turns out better than it feels.”

Yelenich said he thinks it’s going to be a great show.

Chapman said the episode featuring Smith and Yelenich has tentatively been scheduled to appear in the second season, which begins being aired June 2. The series will air on Hulu.

Bart Smith pulls the pork apart while Real Food Real Kitchens” Producer and Creator Craig Chapman films the process. MEGHAN MCCOY

Chapman put the wheels in motion in 2010 for his Hulu show “Real Food Real Kitchens,” which is about family, food, culture and history. Every episode showcases a mini documentary of an every day person who shows an enthusiasm of food and has a traditional family recipe to share. After the background is provided, the dish is prepared in the individual’s kitchen.

“Everyone has that family member that has a dish that everyone tries to get the recipe for,” Chapman said in a December interview for the Islander. “The goal is to preserve those types of dishes and the family stories that are behind them. The viewers can identify so well because everyone has a story like that. I think the real heart of the show is that people are sharing a real emotional, honest story.”

Growing up in South Carolina, Smith was introduced to barbecue at a very young age. Due to the long hours it took preparing the meat, he swore off continuing barbecue, which changed once he got older.

“If I want to eat good barbecue, I have to make it,” he said.

He uses hickory wood when barbecuing, one of the traditions of preparing Low Country Carolina barbecue.

Smith said he uses a very thin vinegar and pepper based barbecue sauce that offers a sweet, tart taste for his pulled pork. The coleslaw, which he prepares as a side dish, is also vinegar based.

“A lot of people will serve this by putting meat on the bun and putting it (coleslaw) right on top of it. I think the moist smoked flavor of the meat really complements the tart coleslaw,” Smith said.

Yelenich had a different approach to his barbecue rack of ribs, which are cooked on a smoker.

The first step starts the day before he sets up the smoker with charcoal and logs for the fire, when he purchases the rack of ribs, seasons it and puts it away in coolers for the night. The seasoning he uses is a TexJoy spice.

Once the smoker was set up he put 18 racks of ribs on rotisserie racks. Every 20 to 30 minutes, Yelenich checks the smoker to make sure the temperature stays within 225 and 250 degrees. A few hours into the process he wraps the ribs in aluminum foil for another hour to 90 minutes, which keeps the juices intact.

At the five hour marker, Yelenich said he takes the ribs off the smoker, unwraps them and lets them cool.

Yelenich started barbecuing in a drone smoker at least 15 years ago. He said since he liked doing smoked poultry, he eventually upgraded to a larger smoker with a rotisserie that he typically uses three or four times a year.

Smith said he wanted to become involved in The Community House fundraiser because he thought it was a remarkable enterprise for a community as small as Sanibel to try and raise $3 million for The Community House restoration campaign.

“I felt I should do whatever I could to help with that effort because it was certainly a worthwhile effort. Really it was trying to help a necessary effort for The Community House,” Smith said. “I had agreed to cook barbecue because it was about the only thing I could cook. It was different from the other contestants, so I thought it would add a little spice.”

He went on to say that with 6,800 full-time residents raising $3 million for the Community House was a tremendous effort.

“You have a host of other bona fide efforts on the island like ‘Ding’ Darling, SCCF and the Sanibel Museum . . . I can go on and on. So, to think that one of those important efforts like The Community House to raise that kind of money is a tremendous effort,” Smith said.

He said he received a lot of satisfaction by being apart of The Community House fundraiser. Smith said with an ongoing overhead of running The Community House with maintenance and operating costs, he encourages individuals to continue to donate to the historic house.

Since Smith and Yelenich prepared their barbecue before the contest, an individual recorded the cooking and trip to the store to purchase the meet to share the process during the February event.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.