Drasko’s brings a twist on KC BBQ to Lawrence

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Jay Draskovich next to his new food truck, Drasko’s.

You can’t miss Drasko’s. No, you literally can’t miss Drasko’s – the new barbecue food truck from chef Jay Draskovich is a former limousine coach that has been reborn as a graffiti kaleidoscope set to drive the discussion on smoking meat in Lawrence.

“This is my take on Kansas City style barbecue. I was born and raised here and Kansas City needs something different,” Draskovich, 35, says. “That’s what I’m going to bring to the table. It’s a twist on flavors that no one has experienced.”

Drasko’s had its grand opening this past weekend in Lawrence, where Draskovich has spent the past five years helping to lead the kitchen at 715 (which, with the spinoff of Meg Heriford and the Ladybird Diner, is rapidly becoming the Cerner of the Lawrence food world).

Draskovich’s twist on barbecue is courtesy of an infusion of Asian flavors to the full coterie of smoked meats.

“Our barbecue sauce has a tomato base, so it’s Kansas City style,” Draskovich says. “But I add a little more brown sugar, Sriracha and Coca-Cola. It’s sweet up front and then it’s got that heat out back.”

Drasko’s will be used for catering and Draskovich is in the process of figuring out his route. Food trucks in Lawrence are currently allowed to park on private property with the permission of that property owner and a site plan that’s been approved by the Lawrence City Commission. Earlier this year, the LCC passed an ordinance that ended a rule wherein food trucks could only vend for three hours per day in the city.

“Food trucks are about having amazing food that’s simple and cost efficient,” Draskovich says.

The front of the new food truck.

The front of the new food truck.

His culinary career began in Orlando, Florida, under chef Julian Baker at the Loews Portfofino Bay Hotel’s Bice.

“I didn’t go to a fancy school. I just learned from amazing chefs. We traveled the world and opened up new Bices, it was just an amazing experience that got me to where I am today,” Draskovich says.

But eight years on the road takes a toll and Draskovich, who was born in Kansas City and still has nieces and nephews in Shawnee, was ready to find a kitchen where he could make a home. That home turned out to be 715, where he had spent the past half-decade developing specials and menus.

“I loved what they brought to the table with butchering. It was another chapter in the book of what I’m learning,” Draskovich says.

The open kitchen and a steady cast of regulars also made him appreciate how food could start a conversation.

“I love interacting with people, especially while cooking. The restaurant [715] really brought that out of me. My personality just exploded out of me,” Draskovich says.

He’s been catering on the side, primarily during the holiday season the past three years, as part of a ramp up toward launching his own food truck.

“Getting that feedback, negative or positive, it makes you a better chef. I love seeing people’s reactions, that ‘oh my gosh, can we have more?’” Draskovich says.

The menu will feature barbecue staples, just not exactly like you might fine at the traditional Kansas City shack. His pulled chicken, marinated in soy, wine and chicken stock, is akin to pulled pork. It’s sous-vide (sealed in a plastic bag and steamed in a water bath) before being shredded. Draskovich also smokes chicken legs, marinated in a lemon brine, on cherry and peach wood. His pork is smoked on cherry and apple and the baby back ribs are on hickory and apple. The meats — with the exception of the ribs, which will be sold by the half and full rack — will be available on slider buns from the Roma Bakery.

“I’ve been playing around with a Korean style baby back. It’s got more of a soy honey glaze,” Draskovich says.

The sides will be the classics (although Draskovich says he has “some twists up his sleeve,”): macaroni and cheese, baked beans with brisket, and maybe pub chips or really skinny fries.

“The secret to great macaroni and cheese is to have a really rich chicken stock to boil your noodles in,” Draskovich says.

The truck will feature a daily special, something like a smoked pork tenderloin served with broccoli rapini and roasted garlic aioli.

“I love playing around with traditional food items and giving them that twist. That’s what it is fun to me about cooking,” Draskovich says.

Jonathan Bender

Jonathan Bender is the founder of The Recommended Daily.

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