Big Baby Q’s Ben Welch will launch pop-up series, Lucy Quinn

Ben Welch, co-owner of Big Baby Q and Smokehouse, is getting ready to embark on a new culinary adventure with a series of pop-up events under the name of Lucy Quinn.

Welch said the first Lucy Quinn event will be Sunday, July 1, at Alphateria at Alpha Brewing Co., part of the Sunday Chef Friends Patio Series hosted by Alphateria chef Mandy Estrella. Subsequent dinners will take place at various locations in the city and county, though he said nothing has been officially scheduled.

Welch said Big Baby Q was dedicated to his father’s mother, and this series is named after his maternal grandmother. The dinners will see Welch cooking a wide variety of dishes under the broad umbrella of soul or southern food with his own personal touches.

“Between the two grandmas, that’s kind of how I got my start in the kitchen,“ Welch said. “Lucy Quinn was more of the adventurous, ‘If you can kill it, you can cook it’ type, very creative. She made moonshine. She made bathtub wine. My grandmother Riola, who Big Baby Q is dedicated to, was more refined. She worked for some families, so she was more ‘elbows off the table,’ courses, use-the-right-utensils one.”

Ben Welch's grandmother and Lucy Quinn's namesake, Lucille Quinn // photo courtesy of Ben Welch

Welch said the first dinner will be approachable, though he plans to challenge diners more as the series progresses. “Depending on the reception, each one I’ll push it a little more,” he said. “The first one will just be getting my feet wet. … I’ll have to see what I can get away with.”

Welch said he plans on five dishes for the inaugural dinner – four savory and one sweet – including smoked deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes and crispy oysters over creamed collard greens. He said the dishes he makes for the series will be a combination of dishes he loved growing up, like chitlins, combined with techniques learned in culinary school and at stints with chefs like Emeril Lagasse, whom he worked for earlier in his career. “I just want to cook from the heart,” Welch said.

Welch also said Big Baby Q’s lease is up in March 2019, and he’s using this series to figure out what his next step might be.

“There has been some interest in licensing Big Baby Q. There has been some interest in me being plucked and going to work for another restaurant group,” he said.  “[Lucy Quinn] will also help me get the feel of, if I decide to do a brick-and-mortar, where could I pull it off at?” 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.