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Ruddell’s Smokehouse, Cayucos, CA

Written By Peter Reinhart
Thursday, 07 July 2011 Webisodes

I love smoked fish of all types. As a child, nearly every Sunday morning in our family we had some kind of smoked fish platter for brunch, usually lox and bagels but often sturgeon, kippers (hot-smoked salmon as opposed to the cold-smoked Nova Scotia and belly lox), white fish, or whatever else my folks were able to find at the local deli. That’s probably where my fascination with smoked foods in general began, as we didn’t have classic barbecue joints in my part of Philly, but we did know about pastrami (smoked brisket). Later, when I discovered the whole wide world of “low and slow” regional barbecue all the lights went on!

So, our visit to Jim Ruddell’s Smokehouse in Cayucos was like a pilgrimage , of sorts — a recovery of some very fond family taste memories. Jim couldn’t have been nicer and more down to earth — he clearly does this hard, daily work because he loves it. It’s a one man show, and another sparkling example of food artisanship, with his attention to the the right wood and temperature choices, and the joy of a daily harvest of whatever he happens to be smoking that day.

In this week’s webisode you’ll meet Jim, as Jensen and Grace Lorenzen accompany me to his Smokehouse to gather ingredients for the pizzas you’ll see in later episodes. As you’re about to see, he made us a smoked fish taco that was as memorable as the one we had at The Taco Temple, yet totally different and distinct (could it be that we’ll need to do a whole season on Taco Quests? Who knows….?). Like I said, I love smoked fish and we had more than our fair share of this beautiful product during our outing.

Sit back and enjoy our shopping trip to Ruddell’s Smokehouse, on the Pacific Coast of Central California.




I know where I’m going for lunch next time I’m in Cayucos.

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Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

Peter’s Books

American Pie
Artisan Breads Every Day
The Bread Bakers Apprentice
Brother Junipers Bread Book
Crust and Crumb
Whole Grain Breads

...and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on