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Scott Chasserot

Quit your job, become a... meat smoker

By Nick Levine

Adam Klak, 36, pit boss at Bodean's explains how he became a master of meat

‘Pit boss’ makes you sound like you’re really good at moshing. What do you actually do? 

‘It’s all about testing and quality control. At our central smokehouse in Bermondsey we smoke more than two tons of meat a day, 24 hours a day. There are four pit bosses, each overseeing a team of between five and eight people. Our job is to care for the quality of the meat throughout the smoking process. If it’s not good enough, we throw it away.’

How long have you been a pit boss?

‘About ten years. Before that I worked as a chef at the Bodean’s restaurant in Soho. After doing the job for so long, there’s not much that can really go wrong. I’ll never get tired of a nice piece of meat, but facing one when I get in at 7am can be hard.’

After smoking meat for a decade, would you date a vegetarian?

‘I wouldn’t rule out a vegetarian girlfriend. By the time I finish at 3pm, I do smell pretty meaty. And after working with pork and beef all day, I do tend to prefer a meal that’s vegetable-based in the evening.’ 

How has Londoners’ taste in meat changed over the last ten years?

‘Tri-tip steak, pork ribs and burnt ends [slow-smoked chunks of beef brisket] are all popular. But in recent years I’ve seen pulled pork explode.’

What does it take to become a great meat smoker?

‘You need to be a meat lover with lots of knowledge. A good way to improve your know-how is to get some work at a butcher’s before you move on to cooking and smoking. But if you want to be a pit boss, you need something special as well. This isn’t like being a chef. We really touch and feel what we’re cooking, so you need that natural feel for the meat.’

Hours: 35 per week

Starting salary: £26k

Qualifications: Four years as a butcher

Or why not become a SFX technician?

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