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Medinah Country Club and Yoder Smokers

Yoder Smokers Custom Smokers

Yoder Smokers grills and smokers find themselves all over the world, not only in backyards or the competition circuit, but food trucks, restaurants, hotels, resorts, and private country clubs.

One such country club, the Medinah Country Club located just west of Chicago, has a very special Yoder Smokers pit that was custom-built to the club’s specifications and is fully mobile on a tandem axle trailer. Matthew Gilbert, the club’s Executive Chef, says during the summer months about 30-40 percent of their banquets and special events are outdoors, and the Yoder Smokers custom barbecue trailer is what you might call his secret weapon in making it all come together. Many of the meals cooked on the Yoder have become mainstays, too.

“We use the Yoder to create all kinds of dishes that have actually become signature dishes,” he remarked.

In fact, one guest-inspired favorite at the club is quite familiar to the barbecue world — smoked barbecue ribs prepared with Dr. Pepper, a classic trick used by pitmasters everywhere to get a sticky-sweet, caramelized full-flavor bark wrapped around the smoky, mahogany deliciousness. Other faves coming off the Yoder include everything from St. Louis and Baby-back ribs to Jamaican Jerk Chicken to buffalo-seasoned sausage.

Cooking to the Region and Beyond

Many of the barbecue offerings Chef Gilbert cooks with the Yoder are regional. “I love regional barbecue and it really resonates with our members,” he said. Gilbert gets creative on Texas-style brisket burnt ends using yellow South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce prepared with Creole mustard, brown sugar, celery salt, paprika, chili powder and apple cider vinegar. Another Carolina favorite is his Apple Barbecue Sauce that uses whole apple chunks, onion strips, whole cloves and apple cider vinegar all pureed together for a sweet and sour tang. It’s the perfect complement to pork and chicken, and most likely would pair well with beef, he says.

Chef Gilbert also hosts themed dinners off the Yoder, each year featuring a different country. “We want to give our members the essence of each country’s cuisine,” Gilbert said. These dinners have proven to be a huge hit, as these outdoor meals add a unique experience for many club members who are new to outdoor cooking, adding a bit of fun to their evenings. According to Chef Gilbert, members who attend these dinners are more open to “eat outside the box”, so to speak, and are more willing to try new things.

Refined Menus Outdoors

And while traditional barbecue dishes might seem to be an obvious choice given the Yoder’s style of cooking, Chef Gilbert delves into more complex and refined cooks as well, such as his signature balsamic rosemary and thyme-marinated flatiron steak flame-grilled over mesquite wood. It’s meticulously crafted recipes like this flatiron steak that have made their way out of the Chef’s kitchen and outdoors onto the Yoder to find a distinct flavor that simply cannot be replicated on the burners of a stove. This variety is essential, says Chef Gilbert, with club members dining at the Medinah Country Club up to 12 times a week. Variety aside, it’s worth mentioning the “wow” factor of club members gathered around the Yoder Smokers pit watching a live fire prepare their meal. It’s this communal aspect of barbecuing, where everyone can gather around the grill or pit, that fosters a sense of togetherness and camaraderie. And club members have grown to embrace it.

What’s more, another chapter is being written and we’re humbled to say that Chef Gilbert and the Medinah Country Club recently commissioned yet another custom Yoder Smokers setup. This new build includes a 36-inch grill, 24-inch griddle, two burners, double-basket fryer, freezer, refrigerator, and countertop workspace.

More than selling out at $155 per plate, the Medinah Country Club and their Yoder Smokers custom pits are bringing people together over barbecue, and for some the first time. We couldn’t be happier with their success and are humbled to be part of this culinary experience.

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