AN APPLEWOOD CHIPS JOURNEY with HOBBS SHORE

Kim Huynh and Hobbs Shore © LEA SUZUKI/San Francisco Chronicle/CorbisHobbs Shore may have been an economist as a young man, but an old-school  family upbringing and a passion for perfection launched a second career. One for which he is far more famous.

It all happened in 1980, when Hobbs was 58. He had retired and was looking forward to a little free time and a little less stress. He was asked to smoke some salmon for a friend's barbeque. So Hobbs fashioned a smoker from an old refrigerator and reached back to those things he had learned when working in his grandfather's smokehouse back East. Then, another friend called asking for smoked meats for a dinner gathering. And as fate would have it, the guests at the party included prominent area chefs Kelly Mills and Bradley Ogden.

The phone never stopped ringing after that.  A new career was launched.

Our wonderful "Mr. Hobbs" Shore passed away in 2008 at the age of 86. And by that time, Hobb's Applwood Smoked meats had grown into a multimillion-dollar enterprise serving the area's finest restaurants and gourmet shops.

Born Huna Schadden in Romania, Hobbs Shore and his family settled in Brooklyn, N.Y. after immigrating to the United States in the early 1930s. Hobbs was eventually sent to live on his Norwegian grandfather's farm in New York's Hudson River Valley. There, he was put to work in the smokehouse, carting around the applewood coals that would impart a unique, flavorful essence... something at the time he hated and vowed never to do again, once when he grew up. 

He managed to avoid it all by entering the army, where he served in World War II and was badly injured in a military plane crash during the Allies' North Africa campaign. Hobbs later garnered a degree in economics, with a Master's from Cornell and a doctorate in urban land economics from UC-Berkley.

Today we have the honor of preserving his tried-and-true recipes, his smokehouse methods and his enthusiasm for creating a truly fine line of epicurean delights.

And while we don't have the privilege to ask him personally more questions about his life and the stories about building a business, we can share some historical quotes from over the years:

 

At Park Chow, where Hobbs' pepperoni tops the pizza, chef-owner Tony Gulisano is another enthusiast. "We can't touch the pepperoni pizza,'' Gulisano says. ``It's really, really good. It's so clean when you eat it, it feels healthful. It feels like you've eaten food that's been taken care of. Let alone all the love that (Shore) puts into it. I believe you can taste that, too.''
 -- San Francisco Chronicle, March 15, 2000

 

"Stylistically, it's done in the old-world curing. You just don't see that anymore today," says Patrick Clark, executive chef of Cupertino's Santa Barbara Grill where Shore's bacon stars in sandwiches and salads, and the pancetta is spotlighted in pasta. "Hobbs puts a lot of love and care into it -- and it shows."
-- San Jose Mercury News, November 24, 1997