East Idaho Eats: Smokin’ Buds serves award-winning ribs, sauce and ‘pillowy heavens of pork’Published at | Updated at
CHUBBUCK — While living in Kansas City in 2008, Ryan “Bud” Matthews “fell into some friends” who were involved in that region’s competitive cooking scene.
He took notes, learned from the best, and started competitive cooking himself the same year. Then, his passion, combined with a lack of barbecue options in southeastern Idaho, led to a career change in 2021 when he launched his food truck — Smokin’ Buds BBQ.
“I thought, ‘this is my chance to do something that will make me happy,'” Matthews told EastIdahoNews.com.
His food has been making the people of Pocatello and Chubbuck happy for nearly a year. As Matthews explained, he has regulars who come for his food nearly every day. And though he tries to plan for enough meat to feed the regulars and the not-so-regulars, he regularly sells out of the most popular items, if not everything.
Among the items, customers usually have to be early to get are the pork belly burnt ends.
Asked how this unique item came to be a part of his ever-expanding menu, Matthews laughed.
“If you got on my YouTube feed or my Safari browser and looked at the history, you’d go, ‘man, this guy’s got a real problem with meat,'” he joked.
Matthews debuted what he eloquently referred to as “pillowy heavens of pork” in July after months of fine-tuning the recipe. On the day he debuted the item, his first customer bought three pounds of the pork belly burnt ends, meaning many people were unable to try the new item.
Thankfully there were also brisket burnt ends, which are a delicacy in their own right.
The triple-smoked morsels of brisket-y goodness are a popular barbecue item in the south, generally served over a slice of un-toasted white bread and sauce-smothered. But they are not an overly common menu item in Idaho.
Matthews included his burnt ends among the items he provided for EastIdahoNews.com to sample. They are cooked perfectly — several times — and go great with the barbecue sauce Matthews makes himself. In fact, Matthews makes almost everything he serves from scratch, even the hot sauce base for his award-winning hot barbecue sauce.
“I smoke my own habaneros and make my own hot sauce,” he said. “Very few things come out of a package on this truck — there’s probably three, four things that do. … We don’t reheat anything. Everything you get is made that same day — I start at 8 o’clock the night before, and it’s about an 18-hour day for me to open up for three hours.”
Matthews has also won awards for his ribs, which want nothing more than to fall off the bone and onto your palate. The brisket and pulled pork are just as good, though.
The Smokin’ Buds menu also features a list of barbecue sandwiches, including the “The Biggest Mac,” an on-the-bun version of the “Mac Attack.” It comes with a heaping helping of Matthews’ smoked mac-and-cheese topped with a half-pound of pulled pork. The sandwich is served on a pretzel bun.
You truly cannot go wrong when ordering from Smokin’ Buds.
COVID-related supply line delays led to a late start for Matthews last year. He was supposed to launch Smokin’ Buds in July but didn’t get on the ground until the second week of October.
This year, he has spent much of the summer on catering jobs, which once again limited his visibility around town. But he is excited to get out to local events as September rolls around and his catering events slow.
“I try to be in Chubbuck and Pocatello a couple of days each week,” he said. “In September, I should start being more consistent in my spots. That will be nice, to be out in the public eye a little more.”
Matthews posts his schedule for the week every Sunday on his Facebook and Instagram pages. The easiest way to find him, though, is at the Food Truck Roundup, Monday nights in Pocatello.
RELATED | Pocatello Food Truck Roundup, which will feature 20 trucks, opens for the year
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