POCATELLO — Shawn Corrales started cooking Sunday breakfast for his family when he was just 8 years old. His culinary passion took him on a winding journey that ultimately led him to open his first restaurant serving up flavorful barbecue in Pocatello.

Corrales officially opened Shawn’s Smoke and Fire BBQ on Thursday, realizing his longtime dream of opening an eatery and, in the process, staking his claim in the industry locally by opening one of the first sit-down gourmet barbecue restaurants here.

Corrales, originally from Huntington Beach, California, was heavily influenced by his parents — his father, a U.S. marshal, and his mother, a stay-at-home mom who loved to cook and entertain. He first followed in his father’s law enforcement footsteps, but after serving six years as a military police officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, decided to pursue his love for cooking.

“I always had a knack for cooking, but in the late ’80s I actually started to pursue a career as a chef,” Corrales said.

The aspiring chef got his formal culinary education at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and bounced around for years between different restaurants, from California to Kansas to Maryland and Florida. He spent about 10 years in Florida, where he got into the food distribution side of the restaurant industry.

Corrales recently moved to the Pocatello area to work for Shamrock Foods. He said he was attracted to Pocatello as a place to retire, and where he’d get to experience four seasons and enjoy the region’s mountains and wildlife.

While retirement is on his mind, it’s clear Corrales is not ready to retire anytime soon. The restaurant owner is currently pulling double duty working simultaneously as a restaurateur and a vendor relations procurement manager for a national private government contractor that supplies food for military training and disaster relief operations.

Corrales has 30 years of experience as a chef and restaurant manager, but Shawn’s BBQ is the first restaurant he’s owned. The barbecue joint’s menu features items like a smoked brisket grilled cheese sandwich on soft, house-made sourdough bread, OMG smothered fries, a variety of burgers and chicken bombs — which is a chicken thigh wrapped in bacon and smoked.

Shawn’s BBQ also has two in-house bakers who make all the bread for the restaurant as well as specialty dessert pastries.

Corrales has ambitious goals for his restaurant venture and hopes to soon outgrow the location at 1015 N. Tenth Ave. and expand the business to the Chubbuck area and eventually to Idaho Falls and Twin Falls.

Corrales’ strategy to ensure his restaurant’s success is to focus on consistency and good service and to not hold back when it comes to using spices and creating flavorful dishes that keep people coming back for more.

“My goal is to expand and have multiple locations,” he said. “I want this to succeed and I’m gonna do everything in my power to make it succeed. My reputation is riding on this restaurant and it means everything to me just to be able to express my passion for food.”

Shawn’s Smoke and Fire BBQ is open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed Sundays. For more information, visit shawnssmokeandfire.com.