Ray Magnuson was working as a chef in high-end fine dining restaurants in Calgary and it was burning him out. He had been in Calgary for 15 years, after moving south from Whitehorse to pursue his Red Seal training. “A friend of mine was moving back home to Ontario and he gave me his smoker before he left,” says Magnuson. “I set it up on my condo balcony and just fell in love with it. I started trying to smoke all kinds of things.”

Understanding that one of the great secrets to a happy life is to follow your passions, Magnuson and his wife Dayna moved home with the intention of opening a southern-style bbq restaurant. Magnuson started with a food truck, an incredibly popular fixture in the summer months in Whitehorse, especially at the Fireweed Market. It’s taken a few years, with a lot of twists and turns, and an amazing business partner, Steven Clapp, but the dream of a bricks-and-mortar restaurant has become a reality. Smoke and Sow now graces Porter Creek with one of Whitehorse’s newest dine-in restaurants. Magnuson acknowledged that their timing hasn’t been ideal. “We picked pretty much the worst possible time to open a restaurant, with COVID and the associated restrictions. But the community has embraced us with open arms. I really couldn’t think of a better place in the world to open a business than in Whitehorse.

“It’s been going really well. We’ve been open to the public as a sit-down restaurant for about three months, and a further two months before that for take-out only.”

Smoke and Sow focuses on southern-style bbq. The menu includes beef brisket, pulled pork, racks of ribs and whole chickens. Since opening in Porter Creek, take-out has been a core element of the business. While take-out will always be offered, Magnuson is excited to see the response of the dine-in clientele.

“It’s pretty awesome to see so many smiling faces inside the space,” he says.“It’s also surreal. It’s something I’ve been working towards for six years and it’s just so exciting to see it come to fruition.”

He says Smoke and Sow wouldn’t be where it is right now without the entire team, but in particular without Clapp. One might suspect that between the dine-in and take-out business, the team at Smoke and Sow wouldn’t have time for much else. But they found ways to make the holidays extra special for their loyal customers.

“For Thanksgiving and Christmas we took orders for take-home turkey dinners that were really popular,” says Magnuson. “People who missed out on those should keep their eyes peeled on our social media heading into Easter as I think we’ll put together something special then as well.” Customers can also expect new menu items this spring. Beers and cocktails will appear on the menu, along with expanded hours that will feature lunch as well as dinner. And for those of you who loved your Thursday Smoke and Sow fix at the Fireweed Markets, don’t despair.

“We’re committed to still doing the Fireweed Markets this year,” says Magnuson. “We really loved the market last year as it provided us with a creative outlet. We could experiment and cook whatever we felt like – perogies, jerk chicken, dumplings. We’re definitely going to do it again.” Finding the food truck outside of market hours might prove a bit trickier though. If COVID restrictions lift, more time will be spent in the restaurant.

To find out about weekly specials, holiday take-away dinners, or new menu items, follow along on Facebook or Instagram @smokeandsow. To learn more visit smokeandsow.com

Smoke and Sow is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday for dine-in and take-out at 1903 Centennial Street in Porter Creek.

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