Whilst most of the population of London are tucked up in bed dreaming about sheep, there is a man who goes by the name of “The Ribman” working hard, all night slaving away over barbecues to cook “The Best Ribs in London” ready to serve to his customers the next day, but what sauce would you serve with Ribs?….. Chilli Sauce right? well not just any Chilli sauce but his freshly made range of sauces available in your Rib roll or as a full bottle, more about those in a bit.
The Ribmans real name is Mark Gervaux and he serves up his Ribs every Thursday and Sunday mornings to hungry punters who come from across London and all parts of the UK and beyond to sample his famous ribs.
On Thursdays Mark can be found in Kings Cross as part of the Kerb, an organisation who are helping to promote street food in London, who’s intention is “to contribute to the life of the city by expanding its street food culture in both depth and flavour” . He also, from time to time sells Ribs at their site by the Famous Gherkin building and City Point.
On Sunday mornings you can catch Mark in the heart of Brick Lane creating amazing flavours and aromas which hold their own against the hundreds of other street food vendors. A couple of weeks ago I was able to visit him here with some friends and finally meet the Ribman!
Mark has been selling his Ribs on the streets of London for four years, in fact this summer sees his 5th anniversary doing what he loves. Meat has always been a big part of Marks life as from the age of 12 he was working in a Butchers on a Saturday in Essex, progressing to become the Assistant Manager of Matthews Butchers in Bethnal Green at 15! and fully qualified at 17, in fact he was a speed boner being paid the princely sum of 50p to tunnel bone a leg of pork and prepare it for the ham pot. He could do this in 52 seconds!
Eventually this evolved into what Mark does today, he started selling rubs for Ribs and cooking samples which were very sucessful and the rest is history. Mark is not shy when it comes to hard work, along with all the preparation, he starts cooking the ribs at midnight on the BBQ, packs them carefully so they continue to rest and tenderise even more so the meat falls from the bone ready for the mornings hungry customers who can buy them from 9am. He does not have a closing time, there’s no need as he sells out everytime, they are that popular! There is plenty to sell too as during the winter Mark is cooking an average of 120 kilos a night at Brick lane and Kings Cross, and manages 200 kilos at the Gherkin which he hopes to raise during the summer to 500 kilos a day!
All this hard work is achieved with one leg after Mark lost his left leg 7 years ago after a car accident many years before, so now has a metal prosthetic leg which makes him literally ‘stand out’ from the crowd!
Marks food has drawn media attention, he was featured on Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food Programme, See below for the clip (start at 16 minutes in)
The Ribs are babyback ribs from pigs that are outdoor reared on norfolk and suffolk farms and have had a good life.
Mark sells a roll stuffed with meat for £6 and you can buy a half rack for £7 or a whole rack for £12 which is very reasonable given the love and time that has gone into cooking them.
Having sampled these Ribs, they are indeed excellent, I stood at Marks stall hypnotised by the view everytime the lid was lifted to take out another portion of rib meat. The meat is stripped from the bone with ease, only the heat of the meat makes this job harder, the pork is so juicy and melts in the mouth, you don’t even have to chew! There’s no gristle here, just meat, some secret spice mix, a roll, a lot of passion! oh and a sauce if you dare…
Now to the pre mentioned sauces. To compliment the meat, Mark started to make sauces to serve in the rolls, he loves the heat and flavour that Chillies bring, but with any Chilli product it is always important to keep the heat/flavour balance there especially when it is being used to accompany other things.
He started off making a standard BBQ sauce and then dabbled with a sauce containing the humble Naga which was named by his customers as Holy Fuck. This contains 1% Naga. (the rest of the ingredients unknown apart from Scotch Bonnets) This sauce went down well, but there was a demand for something hotter so Christ on a Bike was born, same content except around 3% Naga. Yet again there was demand for an increase in heat and Holy Mother of God was created, same as before but with 9% Naga. This was still not enough for some, and at the end of the summer last year Mark created Judasisscaryhot with 20% Naga, and he has just released a new sauce called Mother Inferior for those who want a little heat and just contains a few Scotch Bonnets and no Naga.
These sauces are available to have on your roll or to buy by the bottle at the stall. Alternatively you can visit Marks Hot Sauce Shop and buy direct. All the sauces are handmade in small batches, and are generally made fresh on a Rib day or when orders come into his web shop. Mark does not follow a strict recipe so the taste can vary slightly but you can be sure that the heat will be the same! During the UK Chilli season he buys his Nagas in from Shawn and Jo at Edible Ornamentals due to the sheer volume he needs.
In July last year our very own Darth Naga took on Marks Holy Fuck and Christ on a Bike sauces, here is the video review
So there you have it, if you find yourself in London on a Thursday or Sunday morning be sure to check out TheRibman, but be warned, get there early or you might end up leaving disappointed, he will sell out!
You can keep up to date with where Mark will be and enter his regular competitions to win his Chilli sauces by following him on twitter @theribman