The smoke signals of fiery feasts lure Roger Mooking to the Southwest, where his first stop is West Alley BBQ and Smokehouse in Chandler, Ariz. The hot spot specializes in Tennessee-style barbecue, and Roger helps founder Bardo Brantley and Pit Boss Robert "Jim Dandy" Spann load brick pits with over 300 pounds of pork. The pork butts are piled high in their signature sandwich, The Big Jim Dandy, and their fan-favorite ribs are tossed in a barbecue sauce with a heavy hit of cayenne. For his second stop, Roger gets lucky in Las Vegas, where he meets Chef Justin Kingsley Hall of The Kitchen at Atomic. His portable rig known as "The Swing Set" is anything but child's play. To build this winning jackpot of meat, Roger and Justin suspend Mediterranean spice-rubbed legs of lambs, nestle butternut squash into a bed of coals and grill carrots in a swinging basket.
Roger Mooking meets two barbecue brainiacs who have mastered the art of marrying heat and meat to turn out top-notch barbecue. Pitmaster Christopher Prieto teaches students the science of smoking and seasoning meats at Prime Barbecue in Knightdale, N.C. Roger helps Prieto season a whole hog with Puerto Rican flavors, and then they smoke it in a North Carolina-style pit using coals made from pecan, hickory and cherry woods. In Glen Allen, Va., Roger meets Tuffy Stone, a classically trained French chef, cookbook author, champion pitmaster and the owner of local barbecue chain Q Barbeque. When Tuffy's not tinkering in the kitchen, he's busy building rigs from scratch, and Roger helps fire up his latest contraption with hickory coals and then hang whole spiced and buttered chickens.
Roger Mooking goes hog-wild at two legendary barbecue restaurants located in America's Barbecue Belt. At A&R Bar-B-Que in Memphis, Roger helps owner Andrew Pillard load racks of St. Louis-style ribs into custom wood-fired pits. Andrew also shows Roger how to make Barbecue Spaghetti, a dish created in Memphis in the 1950s. In Lexington, N.C., Roger visits Bar-B-Q Center, a local institution famous for its chopped pork sandwiches and massive ice cream sundaes. Roger and co-owner Cecil Conrad fire up big brick pits with oak and hickory wood and then load salted pork shoulders to cook low and slow for ten hours before they're chopped and piled onto soft buns. And no trip to Bar-B-Q Center is complete without their famous banana split that weighs a whopping four pounds!
Roger Mooking heads to the South to visit two family-run barbecue joints that have been passing down recipes and rigs for generations. At Smokin' Joe's Bar-B-Que in Townsend, Tenn., pitmaster Zack Peabody honed his barbecue chops under the watchful eye of his grandfather, Joe Higgins. Zack and Joe built a smoker that can cook up to 1,000 pounds of meat, and Roger and Zack arrange briskets and pork butts on its shelves. At Shack in the Back BBQ in Fairdale, Ky., Mike and Barbara Sivells converted an old log cabin into a barbecue restaurant. Roger and Mike load pork shoulders and turkey ribs into the smoker to create two popular dishes: The Hump and Turkey Ribs.
Roger Mooking meets up with a few culinary titans in Tennessee who are swinging for the fences with outrageous rigs. At Wedge Oak Farm in Lebanon, Tenn., he joins Chef Trey Cioccia, owner of Nashville's Black Rabbit, to set up the Burn Tower. On this unique rig, meat, fish and vegetables are hung at varying heights around a metal cylinder filled with hot coals. In Nashville, Roger hangs with James Peisker and Chris Carter, the owners of Porter Road Butcher. Chris shows Roger an old swing set that he transformed into a cooking contraption, and they hang meaty rib roasts and fill a basket with chorizo and kielbasa.