Cardiff character: Sam Evans

When you are at the top of your game, working as the Global Head of Creative for an international company, the next stage in your career progression would be a directorship or even an executive. That is the total opposite to what Sam Evans did.

Sam in action at Han Fire Smokehouse's recent 'Booze, Blues and BBQs' event at The Moon Club.

Sam in action at Han Fire Smokehouse’s recent ‘Booze, Blues and BBQs’ event at The Moon Club.


Sam, who moved to London from Cardiff eight years ago, was working for a top medical devices company, when she packed it all in to travel America and set up her own BBQ restaurant.

Along with her trusted travelling partner, Shauna Guinn, the pair now make up Hang Fire Smokehouse; a barbecue restaurant that operates out of different pubs and clubs. Talking about the curveball of a life choice, she optimistically said, “We’ll always have these careers to fall back on, but we’re hoping now we’ve made the big decision to start something for ourselves that we’ll keep going.”

American adventure

As they set off across the pond, she was “determined to start a business in the food industry,” but neither was set on an idea. Sam had a passion for American style barbecue before they jetted off, so “that was always on the back burner,” she said.

Partway through their journey, after hitting Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, the backyard BBQ idea slowly became a possibility.

Between giggling, Sam said, “We ate, slept and breathed barbecue for five solid months!” For the duration of her trip, she attempted to soak up as much knowledge as possible; she cooked at a rodeo, attended master classes and dined in as many barbecue joints as possible.

Tips and tricks

Sometimes the knowledge was hard to come by, especially because the chefs can potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in competitions, and so may be reluctant to hand over their secrets. “You’ll get some tips, but they will always hold a little back. Unless you crack out a bottle of Kentucky whiskey,” Sam joked.

As their adventure came to an end, the pair packed their bags full of tips and tricks and headed back to Cardiff to set the gears in motion. After landing on home soil, their Texan smoker eventually arrived and Hang Fire Smokehouse was born.

No easy ride

Since first firing up their smoker, Sam hasn’t looked back. Operating out of The Canadian pub on a Friday and Saturday, it’s no easy ride. “It takes a whole week to prepare smoked food for a two night pop-up,” she explains. Rustling up the pulled pork takes 48 hours and the chicken, brisket and ribs all take 24 hours. Then there are all the sauces and side dishes to make,  “from scratch, week on week.

Abundance of ideas

When talking of the future, Sam has high aspirations and states, “The possibilities are endless.” They have “an abundance of food ideas,” as well as the possibility of catering large events. Due to the pop-up nature of the business, they aren’t tied down and are both “looking forward to 2014” and what opportunities may come their way.