Local Food Truck Carries On
Tue, 04/06/2021 - 11:54am caleb
Dirty D Barbeque in front of Rolling Oak continues to provide the community with wood-fired food during pandemic
Kinzie Nena | Staff Writer
You may have seen local restaurants and eateries struggling during the pandemic, and while many of our favorite places have managed to stay operational there is another dark horse in the marathon that may have been slightly overlooked but is nonetheless doing well.
On Norway Street, in front of Rolling Oak Brewery, a large custom-built black food truck sits waiting. Inside, Doug Burnett, the owner of Dirty D BBQ, a self-taught chef, has been smoking meats and providing high quality barbeque and meals for Grayling during the pandemic. He has worked in kitchens all the way from Arkansas to Mackinac Island. He is also the former owner of Smokin’ Bucks.
“Jason (Malone) is great, he’s probably the best brewer I’ve ever met,” said Burnett about the arrangement with Rolling Oak.
“He is probably the bigger reason I came back to Grayling. Grayling is a great place to barbeque but it’s easier to do full year-round work like this when you are paired up with someone. His craft is beer and my craft is wood-fired food. I’m glad to be here,” said Burnett.
During St. Patrick’s Day he helped supply locals with corned beef, cabbage, carrot,s and potatoes to really top off Irish celebrations.
“You can’t go wrong with barbeque and beer,” said Burnett.
Situated in front of Rolling Oak Brewery, which boasted a limited run of a St. Patrick’s Day themed beverage which is aptly named “Get Lucky”, a marshmalzow “cere-ale” which was crafted with the help of Lucky Charms cereal.
Burnett started cooking at nine years old, when he took over a Christmas dinner from his mother. Burnett’s mother was a nurse, and she’d had to work, and he and his family had wanted Christmas to be celebrated just like they always had. He hasn’t stopped at Christmas dinners, but felt a passion for smoking meats, grilling, and barbecuing.
“Detroit is a bit of a food desert, full of years of changing food policies, and a lot of places closed down,” said Burnett, who got the opportunity to open his food truck within the guidelines.
Burnett started cooking in Detroit, moved to Northern Michigan and then traveled to Southern Florida, in Miami, Fort Myers Beach, to Atlanta, Georgia, and then back to Detroit and back to Northern Michigan, all while pursuing cooking, refining his craft, and even educating culinary students at the CTC center in Cadillac where he had been invited to do workshops in different culinary classes.
When the pandemic began Burnett was in a unique position to help provide his barbecue while still maintaining all of the health and safety standards and social distancing demands.
“Every day I’m spending money to keep people warm outside, with the outdoor heaters, but the business has done well with being able to provide carry-out,” said Burnett. Unfortunately, his other business, located downstate, a catering business, lost all business.
“We made it work. We did what we had to do,” Burnett said.
The Dirty D Barbeque food truck is as customized and built for purpose as much as all of Burnett’s grills and smokers, which he designs and constructs with his brother.
“He always says he can’t pass down a construction company to my daughters,” said Mariah, Burnett’s 21 year old daughter.
While Mariah will one day take over the barbeque, for now she has had a focus on cake pops and desserts.
“We’ve always been in the kitchen with our Dad, always wanted to help, always wanted to bake,” said Mariah.
“How many dads can say that they have both their daughters come and hang out with them at work?” Burnett said with a smile.
“I am one definitely going to take over the business one day,” said Mariah.
Currently Dirty D runs daily specials with a diverse menu and also has holiday specials, like the corned beef they served for St. Patrick’s Day.
Weekly specials include a Taco Tuesday, Soup and Sandwich specials on Wednesdays, Pulled Pork and Brisket Fridays, and Surf and Turf luncheon on Saturdays.
You can contact the Dirty D Barbeque for specials and take-out orders at (989) 889-2438 or by email at Smokehousepits@iCloud.com.