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Unique culinary experiences center of 406 BBQ’s menu

by SUMMER ZALESKY Daily Inter Lake
| August 9, 2023 12:00 AM

An alligator hangs over an open fire grill and a whole hog hangs on an iron cross, both in preparation to be served by 406 BBQ’s owner and pitmaster.

Though they’ve only been in business for a year and a half, the catering and event business has gained a reputation for providing a unique culinary experience with its Argentine style of cooking.

Stephen Kina started 406 BBQ in 2021 after being inspired by his father’s own career as a chef. While his father, Jason Kina, works in fine dining and has cooked for former President Barack Obama and other world leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Conference, Kina has forged his own path within the barbecue space.

“This summer we have implemented an Argentina style of live fire cooking where we cook meat, pigs, and whole alligators slowly over an open fire,” said Kina. “We imported a grill from Argentina. We love putting on a show for our guests with this new style of cooking.”

Kina hopes the grill will provide the community with an authentic asado experience. Asado means both barbecue as in the event, and a specific cut of meat.

“I actually just came back from Oregon to help a friend at the Ice Box Challenge which is an event for barbecue influencers, and we put the whole cow on the cross and we did mountain lions and rams,” said Kina.

Kina enjoys getting to engage and interact with his customers and cooks out of a tent with his team to draw people in with the spectacle of cooking whole animals over the fire.

“We always work out of a tent except during the winter because I do the cutting in front of everyone,” he said. “So I'll take the meat out and when it's ordered, we cut it in front of them and it helps people talk to me and interact.”

406 BBQ provides catering and participates in events such as farmers markets or rodeos. Apart from their open fire menu, 406 BBQ also offers brisket, steak, prime rib, pulled pork, smoked chicken and sausage, mac and cheese, cornbread, and grilled fruits and vegetables. Though it's the alligator, which he imports from Louisiana, that is the most exotic offering on the menu.

“When tourists ask where the alligators come from, I tell them Whitefish Lake,” Kina said jokingly. “Then they’ll say, ‘Oh my gosh! I just swam in that lake!’”

Kina’s next goal is to make an event out of cooking a whole cow and a mountain lion over the fire.

“I do like to explore and I have a culinary desire to branch out,” he said.

Though Kina has only been barbecuing for the last two years, he has traveled to Texas to take classes at Truth BBQ which is the third ranked barbecue restaurant in the state.

“When we first started, our barbecue was Southern-inspired. Our barbecue, like our briskets and our pork, was all Texan,” explained Kina. “But now we’re trying another way with the Argentinian stuff and we like to incorporate our Asian Fusion bowls which are our number one seller.”

Kina expressed excitement over 406 BBQ winning third place in the Best of Flathead’s BBQ category especially since the business is still in its infancy. Kina highlighted the company’s family first values.

“We really just love serving the community and with being a small business, we're grateful for our repeat customers. We just want to continue to get better,” said Kina. “We've been pretty blessed with how we've been doing in one and a half years, but I'm not content and I want to keep doing more and more.”

406 BBQ can be reached by email at 406bbqkalispell@gmail.com. To learn more, visit 406-bbq.com or visit their Facebook or Instagram page @406_bbq.

Reporter Summer Zalesky may be reached at szalesky@dailyinterlake.com.

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Argentine style of cooking where meat is cooked over an open fire is the focus at 406 BBQ. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Sharp/406 BBQ)

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Aligator is the most exotic meat on the menu for 406 BBQ. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Sharp/406 BBQ)