Three times a year, Mark Skudlarek fires his three-chamber kiln at Cambridge Pottery in Cambridge, Wis., borrowing some of the kiln's coals to place them in an outdoor wood-fired oven and in the grill for a celebratory feast, and Roger Mooking is there to taste the goods from the custom-designed earthenware bakers. In Deadwood, Ore., a couple turned a metal barrel into an everyday, outside oven. They invite Roger to pick produce from their bountiful garden and help prepare their favorite family recipes.
Join the party as Roger Mooking visits three of the greatest fire-roasted ragers that cook mountains of meat and keep the barbecue faithful lining up for more. First, it's all hands on deck in Owensboro, Ky., for a church picnic with nearly four tons of meat and a crowd of 4,000 carnivores. Then, he heads to a Wisconsin winery where they've built a contraption to roast an entire 1,200-pound steer for their annual celebration of beer, wine and beef. Finally, Roger makes waves in New England at a 70-year-old fish festival, sculpting a scorching 12-foot ring of fire for over 300 pounds of shad on upright boards.
Chef Roger Mooking is spending the day at Jacobsen Salt Co., in Netarts Bay, Ore., one of the largest producers of handcrafted sea salt in America. Owner Ben Jacobsen takes Roger on a tour of the facility, showing him how to smoke sea salt, and then Roger meets with Portland-based chef Carlo Lamagna. Roger helps Carlo stuff a 20-pound halibut with lemon and herbs, encrust the whole fish in salt and roast it over a wood-burning fire.
Roger Mooking is in the Peach State visiting two self-taught pitmasters who smoke tasty Texas-style barbecue. In Atlanta, Roger hits up Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, which is owned by twin brothers Jonathan and Justin Fox. Roger and Jonathan load up a 1,000-pound rotisserie smoker with briskets and house-made pork and beef bologna. After the meat is cooked, Justin shows Roger how to create their two signature sandwiches: the Texacutioner and the Bologna and Cheese. In Augusta, Ga., criminal investigator Chris Campbell trades his badge for a propane torch on the weekends, when he works as a caterer who serves killer barbecue at Campbell's BBQ Co. Roger and Chris fill up his custom-made mobile rig with seasoned briskets and pork butts. While the hunks of meat soak in the smoke and heat, they cook up a pot of Brunswick stew, a Georgia classic made with smoked beef, pork, chicken, vegetables and barbecue sauce.
Chef Roger Mooking highlights the inventive ways Americans cook with fire. From small campfires to custom-made grills and smokers, he visits the home cooks, pitmasters and chefs who are fascinated by fire and food.
Roger Mooking is going hog wild for the most insane pig roasts in the country. First, he's in Hawaii to roast a whole pig in a traditional underground oven called an imu. The community comes together to cook the pig with glowing hot lava rock and a layer of local vegetation to trap the heat. Next, he meets the sausage king of Texas at the Meyer's Elgin Sausage smokehouse and learns how they stuff and fire up 5,000 pounds of pork sausage in a single day with state-of-the-art technology. Roger heads to Leatha's in southern Mississippi to learn the secret behind their unusual upright smoker that allows pork fat from their ribs to drip right on top of succulent smoked pork shoulder, and finally he visits a true porky hall of fame at Stamey's in Greensboro, N.C. Their incredible cooking chamber houses 10 huge smoking pits that allow them to roast 200 pork shoulders at a time.
Roger Mooking's search for fire and food takes him to Jamaica where Roger makes a beeline for Scotchie's Too, a restaurant famous for cooking jerk over logs set over pits filled with coals. Roger also meets up with local fisherman Dennis Abrahams at Alligator Pond, a beach where boats pull in after fishing to sell their goods. Dennis and Roger start a campfire right on the beach and grill the catch of the day.
Roger Mooking is going from the west coast to the east coast to check out crazy custom contraptions. First, he gets to play with a one-of-a-kind "meat swing set" in West Sacramento, Calif. Custom-built for Chef Beau Fairbairn, it can cook a whole animal or two, and still have room left over. Roger and Beau slow-cook a whole hog and an entire garden's worth of vegetables over a 12-foot-long wood fire. Then, Roger heads to school in farm country, New Jersey, where cooking-school founder, Ian Knauer, teaches open-fire cooking. Today's lessons: whole lamb roasted over a wood fire on a 5-foot hand-powered rotisserie, accompanied by salsa verde made with herbs from the farm and vegetables roasted in a wood-fired oven.
Roger Mooking visits two legendary barbecue joints in Central Texas where just the right amount of smoke and heat transforms the meat into delicious eats. At Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas, they have eight pits for cooking, acres of wood for burning and hundreds of pounds of delicious barbecue for stick-to-your-ribs eating. At Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas, third generation pit master Wayne Mueller gives Roger an experience of a lifetime.
Roger Mooking is loading up on the best brisket, pork steaks and sausages that Texas has to offer. Ronnie's BBQ in Johnson City attracts locals and barbecue aficionados. Roger helps pit master Ronnie Weiershausen smoke brisket, pork steaks and sausages. Ronnie's wife Cindy teaches Roger how they combine all three meats for a one-of-a-kind breakfast treat. At the Pecan Lodge restaurant in Dallas, dynamic duo Justin and Diane Fourton smoke some of the best barbecue in town. Roger and Justin fire up the smokers and cook brisket and pork shoulders that are seasoned with a sensational spice rub. Back at the restaurant, Roger and Diane assemble a popular sandwich packed with brisket, pulled pork, sausages and then topped with coleslaw, jalapenos and barbecue sauce.
In Lexington, Texas, folks line up early on Saturday mornings for Snow's BBQ. 77-year-old Tootsie Tomanetz is a custodian worker at a local school during the week, but a serious pit master on Friday nights. Roger Mooking clocks in a night shift to help this pitmaster, her son and the owner prepare hundreds of pounds of brisket, ribs, pork and chicken. In Pacifica, Calif., Hawaiian-style barbecue is prepared right on the coast. Roger helps pit master Darin Petersen wrap a whole pig in taro and ti leaves and lowers it into a deep pit to cook low and slow over a bed of hot lava rocks.
Roger Mooking is going coast to coast for his cookouts, starting with Seattle chef Renee Erickson, who celebrates summer by smoking meats and seafood in wine barrels that have been transformed into smokers. Fresh lamb, Pacific oysters, spot prawns and Dungeness crabs are quickly cooked in these unique wine barrel smokers for a summertime feast at a beautiful farm just outside the city. In New England, nothing screams summer more than a traditional seafood boil prepared right on the beach. Roger visits Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Mass., and digs for the tastiest oysters and clams from the beach and builds the perfect pit for a delicious outdoor seafood boil.
Texas is famous for American barbecue, but today Roger Mooking is making his way through the Lone Star state for live-fire Latin American cooking and to savor the flavors of smoked European-style sausages. Class is in session at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio and Roger gets a lesson in preparing Mexican-style short ribs cooked in the ground. Elgin is a town famous for their German-style sausages and Roger visits Meyer's and helps prepare thousands of twice smoked sausages.
Roger Mooking is fanning the flames of a fiery surf-and-turf extravaganza in the Sunshine State. He starts at Mrs. Peters Smokehouse, a smoked fish institution that has been thriving in Jensen Beach, Fla., since 1958. Roger and owner Tommy Lopresto fire up a giant 100-year-old oven to smoke hundreds of pounds of fish, some of which will be used in a special seafood chowder. In Loxahatchee, Fla., Roger meets husband-and-wife operators of Swank Specialty Produce, Darrin and Jodi Swank. The Swanks grow vegetables, greens, fruits and flowers and raise livestock, too. Several times a year, they host events at their farm and invite chefs and local restaurateurs to cook in their wood-fired outdoor kitchen. Roger works with local chef Dak Kerprich of Jewell Bistro to slow-roast three dozen chickens on two massive asado crosses. They also fire up a grill to cook flatbread and char a colorful blend of sweet peppers.
Chef Roger Mooking meets with two Southern ladies famous in the barbecue world. In Nashville, Roger has eyes only for the smoked ribs at Mary's Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que. At Helen's Bar-B-Q in Brownsville, Tenn., Roger meets legendary pit master Helen Turner and help her cook pork shoulders, pork ribs and a whole stick of bologna.
Roger Mooking attends the 100-year anniversary of the St. Mary Magdalene Church Picnic in Owensboro, Kentucky, where several thousand pounds of meat will cook over 100 feet of fire and smoke. Roger helps volunteers load and light three massive barbecue pits with wood planks, pallets and straw, then it's all hands on deck to prep, cook, flip and mop sauce for mutton, pork butts and chickens. Thousands attend this annual fundraiser, which even has a drive-through for folks who prefer to take their 'cue to go!
In Buffalo Gap, Texas, Roger Mooking meets Tom Perini at his restaurant, Perini Ranch Steakhouse. Roger is put to work lighting up burn barrels for the metal pits, then dessert is baked in a coal-covered cast iron Dutch oven. At Pitchfork Fondue Western Cookout in Pinedale, Wyo., owner Matt David invites Roger to his outdoor kitchen where steaks are skewered onto pitchforks and deep-fried in giant cauldrons.
Roger Mooking heads to Napa Valley, Calif., for two unique pig roasts. In St. Helena, chef John Fink is famous for his portable Cuban Pig roasts. Over a custom built oven, a whole pig is butterflied and seasoned with mojo and slow-roasted over wood coals. In Calistoga, Roger meets Todd Spanier to feast on a whole pig that's stuffed with truffles and trumpet mushrooms, then roasted over a rotisserie that his grandfather constructed in the 1970s.
Roger Mooking meets up with two mastermind chefs who show off their radical rigs on opposite ends of the country. In Great Barrington, Mass. Roger puts the pedal to the metal on Jeremy Stanton's "Rotisserie Bike," a genius stationary bike that can turn up to 12 spits at once with nothing more than the force of two hamstrings. After prepping a whole hog, an 80 pound beef leg, and a basket of onions, Roger and Jeremy burn some calories while they take turns to keep the meat turning over three open fires. Then, Roger races off to San Francisco where he and Chef Sophina Uong of Mestiza Taqueria cook up a Filipino-Mexican feast on her lean mean chicken machine. Over 30 chickens are loaded onto bamboo sticks and leaned over an open fire.
Roger Mooking takes a trip to West Point, Texas, to meet Tink Pinkard. Tink is an outdoor guide, hunter, fisherman, caterer and all-around nice guy. Together they build a barbecue pit out of cinder blocks and prepare Italian porchetta. While the pig slowly roasts over coals, Tink teaches Roger how to fly-fish and takes him to a neighbor's longhorn ranch. It's a wild and delicious adventure that Roger won't soon forget.
Roger Mooking's on the hunt for lip-smacking barbecue ribs. In Hattiesburg, Miss., Leatha's Bar-b-cue Inn seasons their pork and beef ribs with a mysterious marinade, cooks them in an unusual upright smoker, and finishes them with a top secret barbecue sauce. Roger learns how to make these Southern-style ribs from Brian Jackson, a third generation pit master. And at Hometown Bar-B-Que in New York, Brooklyn native Billy Durney gives his ribs an ethnic spin. The Jerk Baby Back Ribs are seasoned with the earthy, spicy flavors of Jamaica, while the Sticky Korean ribs are glossed with a sweet and savory Asian glaze, and then topped with cashews and scallions.
Smokers and grills come in all shapes and sizes, but Roger Mooking has found two extreme examples. In Grain Valley, Miss., mechanic Bill Rousseau transformed a retired Cessna airplane into a smoker and transports this impressive rig to a local airport and smokes pork butts and ribs and serves them with grilled chicken for guests, including skydivers who "drop in." In Ridgecrest, Calif., Ed McBride Sr. and Ed McBride Jr. weld salvaged metal into pieces of art, including dragons that are working barbecues. They cook up juicy rib eye roasts in the belly of this metal beast.
Mexican food is a favorite of Roger Mooking because of its complex, earthy flavors and tradition of cooking over a wood fire. Roger meets Chef Johnny Hernandez in San Antonio, and cooks regional Mexican dishes in the ultimate outdoor kitchen.
Roger Mooking visits two chefs from Texas who love to play with smoke and fire in their restaurants and in their backyards. By day, Tom Spaulding serves classic Texas-style barbecue at his Austin restaurant Live Oak. But for special occasions, Tom builds a grill out of cinder blocks and a metal sheet and grate for a South American parilla-style spread. At Chicken Scratch restaurant in Dallas, Tim Byres spins spice-rubbed chickens from his unique wood-burning rotisserie. But in the middle of his vegetable garden, Tim has dug a deep hole and lined it with bricks to make delicious Mexican Lamb Barbacoa inside and Pork Carnitas on top.
Roger Mooking explores cowboy cooking deep in the heart of Texas, where Sandra Julian preserves the tradition of cowboy cuisine in her rustic chuck wagon. She cooks up her famous chicken fried steak over an open fire and bakes peach cobbler in a cast iron Dutch oven. In California, the Righetti family continues to fan the flames of Santa Maria-style barbecue in their restaurant and in their backyard. Metal skewers lined with 30 pounds of spice-rubbed top sirloins are grilled to juicy perfection and served with traditional pinquito bean salad and strawberry pies.
At Ned Ludd in Portland, Ore., chef Jason French loves to prepare food in his wood-fired oven and outdoor smoker so much that he doesn't even have a gas stove. Jason takes Roger Mooking to Big Table Farm in Gaston where his friends built a smoker out of a sea buoy. Chickens and pork belly are smoked for a sunset feast in the middle of the farm. In Iowa City, chef Kurt Friese hosts "Lambapalooza" with whole lamb cooked on a rotisserie he built in his backyard. Lamb from a local farm is stuffed with aromatics and cooked throughout the day, and potatoes harvested that morning are baked directly in the coals.