Roger Mooking's favorite way to devour smoked pork shoulder is in a sandwich. In Grand Rapids, Roger visits the Pit Stop, a barbecue take-out famous for their unconventional yet scrumptious sandwich featuring pork chili, pulled pork, cilantro cream and barbecue sauce wrapped up in a flour tortilla and then cooked on a griddle until golden brown and crispy. For a classic Southern-style pork sandwich, Roger visits Top Hat Barbecue in Blount Springs, Ala. This barbecue institution has been serving their best-selling sandwich the same exact way for almost 50 years. The smoked pork is chopped, dressed with a little barbecue sauce and then piled in a bun.
The American barbecue belt in the South stretches from the Carolinas to Texas, and today Roger Mooking heads to the heart of it, Alabama. Roger meets award-winning pit master Chris Lilly at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, a family-run restaurant serving Alabama-style 'cue for four generations, and Roger's there for the legendary smoked chicken that's dunked in a unique and utterly delicious white sauce. In the coastal town of Mobile, Roger meets Alabama native Bill Armbrecht, owner of The Brick Pit. Locals and visitors from across the country stop in for the chicken and ribs, but the thing everyone talks about is the pulled pork which cooks for almost 30 hours in a smoker called "The Big Red."
Roger Mooking's in South Carolina for two spectacular low country cookouts. In the seaside town of Beaufort, Roger meets Jim Gibson, who has been doing pig pickin's for family and friends for the last 40 years. Roger and Jim build the outdoor pit, smoke a whole pig and then chop and serve it with the traditional side of hash and rice. Just 20 minutes south of downtown Charleston is a 14-acre peninsula called Bowen's Island and the only thing on it is a restaurant that specializes in low country cooking. Roger meets Robert Barber, owner of the restaurant and the island, and together they build an impressive fire to cook a massive pile of local cluster oysters.
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.
Roger Mooking visits two chefs in Texas who created the craziest cooking contraptions and prove that everything's bigger in Texas. Chef Johnny Hernandez designed a massive grill for his restaurant El Machito in San Antonio and it takes fire and food to the extreme. Roger and Johnny skewer every meat imaginable -- chickens, pork and beef sausages, racks of ribs and whole goats. Roger then heads to Vintage Heart Farm in Stockdale to meet Chef John Russ who designed a 7-foot tree made out of stainless steel that can roast food over a wood fire. Roger and John fill the tree with quails and sausages for an outdoor feast.
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.
Roger Mooking is in Southern California for two unbelievable backyard blowouts. Roger meets Chef Ben Ford in Tarzana for a unique California-style clambake, using an old wine barrel as the cooking vessel for clams, mussels, Dungeness crabs, artichokes, corn, potatoes and onions. In Chula Vista, Roger meets Francisco "Paco" Perez for traditional Mexican barbacoa which is whole lamb cooked in the ground, low and slow. Together they preheat an underground brick pit with a wood fire, and then season the lamb with a bright red chili marinade before covering it with dried avocado and fresh maguey leaves and cooking it in the pit overnight.
Like a moth to a flame, nothing grabs Roger Mooking's attention like a raging wood-burning fire. Roger heads to Bigmista's Barbecue & Sammich Shop in Long Beach, Calif., where Neil and Phyllis Strawder spread their smoked meat love. Roger and Neil load up the smoker with beef briskets and pork butts, then back in the kitchen, Roger and Phyllis roll up their sleeves and build unique barbecue sandwiches. In Door County, Wis., Roger is bowled over by the area's legendary fish boil. At the Old Post Office Restaurant, boil master Jeremy Klaubauf cooks local white fish, potatoes and onions in a cauldron by engulfing it in flames.
California's wine country is the perfect place for an outdoor cookout and Roger Mooking has been invited to two parties there. Executive winemaker Neil Collins of the Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles designed a contraption that can cook a whole pig over a wood burning fire for an annual party held for members of their wine club. The town of Healdsburg is famous for their wineries, their olive oils and a historic landmark called the Dry Creek General Store. In the summer months, they load up the grill and prepare amazing feasts. Roger helps Chef Gia Passalacqua fill an eight-foot grill with Dungeness crabs that have been rubbed with a chili pepper sauce, and legs of lambs that have been rubbed with a Mediterranean spice paste.
Roger Mooking attends the 100-year anniversary of the St. Mary Magdalene Church Picnic in Owensboro, Ky., 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!
Roger Mooking visits Faith's Farm in Bonfield, Ill., for an awesome feast cooked on three different fiery contraptions. Roger helps three chefs orchestrate a festive Latin and Mexican-inspired meal. A whole lamb slowly roasts on an asado cross, boar steaks are grilled on a repurposed windmill, and pig skins are fried until puffy and crisp in a wood burning oven and stove, and then finished with a smoky Mexican chocolate glaze. It's a three-alarm fire for a three-star, farm-to-table spread.
Roger Mooking is grilling steaks and chickens in California, and smoking a bounty of seafood in Illinois. High heat for meat and low smoke for seafood. Roger begins in Orangevale, Calif., to meet restaurateur and caterer Steve Dougherty who specializes in Santa Maria-style barbecue. Roger and Steve season tri-tip steaks and chickens with Cajun spices, and then line them up on the racks of a giant portable grill. In Chicago, Roger visits Calumet Fisheries, an 80-year-old seafood smokehouse where he helps fish smoker Javier Magallanes load up salmon, trout, whitefish, sable and sturgeon, and smoke them to perfection.
Roger Mooking is in Puerto Rico where the weather is hot, the view is smoking and the food is a fuego! It's his first time visiting Puerto Rico and he's inviting friends along for the ride. Roger begins the eating adventure with fellow Canadian, Chef Chuck Hughes. They'll fill up on pork at La Estacion, a former gas station-turned-barbecue restaurant that's located in Fajardo. Owner and Chef Kevin Roth transformed a truck into a smoker and grill and that's the main star of his outdoor kitchen. Roger and Chuck help build and light a fire, and rub down a whole pig with spices to make lechon, a Puerto Rican specialty. Roger heads over to the other side of the island and meets local chef Tino Feliciano. Tino takes Roger to a popular roadside eatery Rancho Carbon Express. Chickens are stuffed with sofrito, rubbed with adobo and then cooked on rotisseries.