When thinking of barbecue, usually summer holidays, smoked meats and messy hands come to mind. Most people don’t think of a five-course meal with alcohol pairings at your local smoke shop. And that’s why Chef Kris Ott is flipping the script over at Chop Shop BBQ.
“I went to culinary school outside of Paris and when I came back to the States, I just had the opportunity to work under a lot of great chefs,” Ott said. “So my skill set is pretty diverse, from butchering to pasta making to charcuterie, to corporate to small mom and pops’ to massive catering events.”
With all of those abilities at fingertips, Ott established Chop Shop with the intention of expanding the Treasure Valley’s comfort zone. He wanted a cutting edge, take-out based barbecue shop that incorporated his passion for fine dining.
“Globally, every ethnicity has a version of barbecue, which gives me an endless pool of ingredients to play with,” Ott explained. “We really focus on creativity and going outside the box, using ingredients you don’t normally see: smoked octopus, beef tongue, heart. I think this has really taken off with the community.”
Joining the Caldwell culinary scene in the summer of 2019, Chop Shop immediately faced the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Ott felt the community’s support through that uncertainty.
As the first restaurant to open on the Indian Creek Plaza, Chop Shop helped bring life into the plaza. With Destination Caldwell continuing to update and improve Caldwell’s downtown, the city and community supported Ott’s mission.
“COVID actually gave us a prime opportunity because of Ada County closing, that brought a spotlight into Canyon County,” Ott explained. “Through COVID, our marketing strategy was one step ahead because we already focused on take-out and were able to serve the community.”
An homage to Ott’s Californian roots and to the city that welcomed Chop Shop in, the walls reflect the natural beauty of the Treasure Valley with spray painted murals. The Owyhee Mountains line the entrance, thick honey drips out of hives and the Chop Shop logo adds a splash of color to the patio.
“We try to buy everything locally and we purchase in bulk during peak seasons so that we can freeze it, can it and process it for later in the year,” Ott said. “Everything is made from scratch here. Everything you eat here is our recipe, right down to the bread. So when you come to Chop Shop, you know you can’t get anything we do anywhere else.”
Committed to using local ingredients and vendors, Ott recently finished their outdoor restaurant patio, located out the back entrance of Chop Shop. With hops growing up the trellises to your left and a complete herb garden to your right, the shaded outdoor space allows for customers to enjoy the summer weather with whatever treat Ott is serving today.
“I wanted the plants to overgrow in the patio because it creates shade and provides a very unique feel,” Ott said. “And when people see me come out and pick herbs, I can tell them it’s for the plate I’m making for them, and that blows people away. This is as farm to table as you can get.”
Alongside their exquisite smoked meats, Chop Shop has begun to offer more events, creating something for everyone inside their four walls. With paint and sips hosted by Ott’s wife, customers enjoy a full Chop Shop meal while gaining personal art instruction.
Tapping into his fine dining capabilities, Ott is also hosting wine and beer dinners at the shop. Partnering with a local winery or brewery, Ott creates an extravagant five-course meal, complete with custom alcohol pairings, that are sure to leave customers excited about Caldwell agriculture and completely satisfied.
“We’re finding new ways to get people into our restaurant and expanding our word of mouth,” Ott explained. “Now that we’re getting back into normalcy, we’re really going to be pushing the envelope to do more classes, more dinners and more of the things that separate us from everyone else.”
This innovation has become a characteristic of Chop Shop, giving it a reputation well beyond Caldwell’s city limits. Ott described how people come from Oregon, Boise and all over Idaho just to experience his smoky magic.
“Just the other day, we posted on Instagram that we were stuffing squid with smoked shrimp, and this guy saw our post while he was sitting in a bar in Boise with his wife,” Ott said. “They got in their car and drove straight here, just so they could have a taste.”
Whether you’re in need of a lunch spot on your break or crave a five-course, fine dining experience, come on down to the Indian Creek Plaza and visit Chop Shop BBQ, knowing the story behind the storefront.