Posted by Tim Ebner on July 9, 2015 at 8:50 am
8 a.m., DCity Smokehouse
Shawn McWhirter is coming off the overnight shift at one of the most popular barbecue restaurants in D.C. Since midnight, he’s been checking the smokers out back and prepping sides like greens and beans for the day’s service.
McWhirter is the sous chef at DCity Smokehouse, and the mastermind behind the pork belly and turkey sandwich known as the Meaty Palmer (named the best sandwich of 2014 by Washington City Paper). McWhirter also has a criminal record that’s put him in jail six times. His crimes ranged from possession of marijuana to breaking and entering, and he says without family and a job, it would have been tough to turn his life around.
Inside the DCity Smokehouse kitchen, the work can sometimes be lonely. McWhirter is the only one working the overnight shift, but cooking is his passion, he says, along with music. He plays a mix of hip-hop and R&B that greets pitmaster and co-owner Rob Sonderman at the start of the morning shift.