Chris Terlikar gets smokin' on his home-made BlueBonnet Barbecue.
Chris Terlikar gets smokin' on his home-made BlueBonnet Barbecue. Photo: Supplied

Jane Holroyd

Fans of slow-cooked American barbecue will find fulfilment at Fitzroy's Grub Food Van over the coming fortnight, as the usual cafe-style menu gives way to the likes of brisket and slaw as the sun dips in the sky.

BlueBonnet Barbecue, the brainchild of chef Chris Terlikar, will be popping up in the 1960s silver Airstream for dinner services from Thursday, May 29 until Sunday, June 8.

The BlueBonnet menu, Terlikar's twist on traditional Texan barbecue, most recently had a monthly airing at Carlton's The Beaufort. Terlikar is still acting as a consultant for The Beaufort's eatery, Ike's Rack Shack, but has teamed up with the Grub Food Van while he hunts for permanent digs for the BlueBonnet Barbecue concept.

Grub Food Van's Mark Murphy.
Grub Food Van's Mark Murphy. Photo: Simon Schluter

Terlikar was sous chef at New York City's Public restaurant for three years before he acquired a taste for smoking meat while working at the legendary Micklethwait barbecue trailer in Austin, Texas.

Since returning to Melbourne he's fashioned his own American-style barbecue from a smoke machine, salvaged from a nightclub at Melbourne's Crown complex.

One of Terlikar's specialties is Hot Guts; a spicy sausage that will be made in the Grub Food Van and then smoked for three hours. Terlikar smokes his brisket for 16 hours, give or take; "It just depends how the smoke treats me on the day."

BlueBonnet's menu shifts away from traditional Texan barbecue when it comes to sides. In lieu of the usual mayo-heavy potato salad, BlueBonnet's Grub Food Van pop-up will dish up a warm roasted kipfler salad with caramelised onion and roasted chestnuts. There's also a black garlic corn bread, and that 16-hour brisket will come chopped in a miso-flavoured burger bun, topped with chopped apple and kohlrabi slaw.

"I really like those traditional grits, slaw, potato-salad type sides but I've been a chef for 20 years so this is a way I can be a little more creative with what I offer."

Vegans need not avoid Grub Food Van entirely; Terlikar gives US-speciality Frito pie (similar to nachos) an animal-free makeover. Once his 10-day stint at Grub is finished, Terlikar hopes to open another short-term BlueBonnet Barbecue in Johnson Street, Collingwood, before establishing a long-term venue.

Details: BlueBonnet Barbecue pop-up, 5pm-10pm, Grub Food Van (87-89 Moor Street, Fitzroy), Thursday, May 29 - Sunday, June 8th.

*Note: Grub Food Van will operate as usual in daytime hours. See grubfoodvan.com.au.