Tampa Bay’s Best Dish: The Smoke Shack with Kim Yelvington of Chocolate Pi

June 29, 2015 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: Editorial, Food | Tags: Chocolate Pi, Kim Yelvington, Smoke Shack

Chef Kim Yelvington

Chef Kim Yelvington, owner of Chocolate Pi and Executive Pastry Chef of Harry Waugh Dessert room, selects The Smoke Shack

Hot Plate: Pulled pork sandwich

Interview by: Sarah Morin


Why is this the best barbecue in town?

They use family recipes. Barbecue is a southern family thing—and I appreciate it because I am from the south (Kentucky). The sides alone are worth coming for. The truffle mac and cheese and the four-bean baked beans have texture and brown sugar sweetness.


How long have you been coming here, and how did you find out about it?

It’s been open 2 1/2 years now. It all started inviting friends to a backyard barbeque with ridiculous smoked ribs. A hobby turned into a good business, now it has a cult following.


If you weren’t baking, what would you be doing?

Probably something with architecture. I had the opportunity to go to France and decided I wouldn’t go into architecture, my original intent. The baking industry at the time was so mass-produced. In France I was exposed to the artistic, creative side of baking I wanted to pursue.


How did you get involved with your current restaurant?

In 2002, I started Chocolate Pi. I saw a niche in the market where high quality desserts and cakes were missing. I underestimated the cake demand as I began with a dream of opening a small, French-style pastry shop.


How would you describe the cuisine at Chocolate Pi?

It became a true blend of southern, French and American. I like redoing American classics with a French quality.


What’s one dish I have to try?

Our homemade ice cream, specifically the graham cracker ice cream or a scoop of the banana ice cream.


What’s on ingredient you can’t live without in your kitchen?

It’s a tie between Valrhona chocolate and vanilla beans.


Which cooking competition show would you most enjoy competing in?

Life is like a competition and every weekend is like a cake challenge. If I did compete, it would in be the Pastry Olympics.


The Smoke Shack is located at 3423 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL 33629. For more information, call (813) 748-1988 or visit www.SmokeShack-BBQ.com.