photo courtesy of Charlie Torgerson
You know the iconic Famous Dave’s at the MN State Fair, not too far from the western terminal of the Sky Ride? Well, get ready for change, because it's now RC’s BBQ. But while it's not a Famous Dave’s anymore, RC stands for Randy and Charlie, Randy Jernberg and Charlie Torgerson, who are in fact the long-time business partners behind the Famous Dave’s at the State Fair, and have been running it together under a franchise agreement since 1997. Charlie Torgerson was the executive chef for Famous Dave’s for 19 and a half years, (through 13 CEOs, he says) but recently parted ways with the company, hence the new name and new everything.
The good news is that we'll see more local craft beer on the tap-lines, new garage doors transforming some formerly solid walls into open spaces, and a brand new menu. Well, a partially brand new menu. New items include individual Texas-made hot-links tied like tiny ring bolognas, and the dish Torgerson is sure will be RC’s claim to fame, pork burnt butt-ends. Returning menu items include the chocolate-covered bacon called Pig Lickers (Torgerson's invention), smoked pork, smoked brisket, coleslaw, beans, and those Kool-Aid pickles from a few years ago that maybe six fair-obsessives such as myself will remember.
“We smoke everything in a whole-log smoker,” Torgerson explained to me, adding that he first started working with whole-log smokers soon after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, when he opened his first barbecue spot across from a military base in Fairbanks, Alaska. “We’ll start smoking meat the Tuesday before the fair, and that smoker will be going continuously till the Fair ends.” That’s a smart and old school way of doing things, and this may be because Torgerson has old-school roots. “I have meat in my blood. My grandfather was a butcher in Morris, Minnesota—at Spike’s Fresh Meats.”
It seems only fitting that old-school Minnesota meat know-how will be getting a showcase at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Welcome RC’s BBQ, may your smoker be always warm, and your beef always smoky.