Taino Prime smokehouse to open in Meriden this year, head chef to appear on Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition

Taino Prime smokehouse to open in Meriden this year, head chef to appear on Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition


MERIDEN — Taino Smokehouse, a popular barbecue restaurant in Middletown, announced Tuesday it will be opening its second location in Meriden later this year. The restaurant’s head chef, Van Hurd, will also be appearing in Hell’s Kitchen All Stars with Gorden Ramsey this fall. He previously appeared in the sixth season of the cooking competition show on Fox.

In 2015, Christopher Szewczyk, owner of Taino Smokehouse in Middletown, purchased the former Jacoby’s restaurant, 1388 E. Main St., to renovate the building into a smokehouse called Taino Smokehouse Prime. Work has been ongoing for over a year, and construction is expected to be complete this fall. On Tuesday, Sandra Russo-Driska, general manager of Taino Smokehouse, announced Taino Smokehouse Prime will be opening this year.

“It will focus on hospitality, quality and theatre,” Russo-Driska said in a statement released Tuesday. “We will have an open barbecue pit and wood fired grill. Our ingredients will be the finest quality; time and care will be taken in the preparation of all food items.”

She added Taino Smokehouse Prime will have indoor seating for 260 people and space for private parties and events.

“In addition, we will have a full restaurant, bar, and marketplace,” Russo-Driska continued. “This restaurant will be dry aging prime steaks and will produce our own charcuterie, smoked meats, ice cream, canned goods, cheese, and many more exciting things.”

Last year, Taino Smokehouse announced that award-winning chef Van Hurd would be developing the menu and operating procedures at Taino Smokehouse Prime. Szewczyk said at the time his goal was to make Taino Prime “the best smokehouse in the country.”

“So the vision is pretty much to make it a tri-state area destination,” he said.

Hurd grew up in Texas and competed in the sixth season of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition series, Hell’s Kitchen. His mother, Luna Vachon, is well-known for her time as a WWE wrestler.

Previously, Hurd has worked as executive chef of Sayulita, a popular Mexican restaurant in Glastonbury, and as chef at Riverhouse Catering in Cheshire.

Russo-Driska said Taino Smokehouse in Middletown will be holding a viewing party for Hurd’s appearance on Hell’s Kitchen All Stars on Friday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets are limited and available for sale. Contact the restaurant at 860-358-9828 or email contact@tainosmokehouse.com. More information can be found at www.tainosmokehouse.com.

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