Meet Meathead, Barbecue Whisperer, Hedonism Evangelist, Culinary Mythbuster
"Wretched excess is just barely enough." Shirley O. Corriher, baking expert
Glad you stopped by. Sit a spell and take some time to visit. There's a lot to, ahem, consume on this site.
Dad was the first to call me Meathead after watching Archie Bunker and now everyone calls me that. No offense taken. In fact, I love it. It's better than what my editors and my wife call me. If you've read this far, you're my buddy and you can call me whatever you want.
Why do I produce AmazingRibs.com? Because I am drawn to flame and I have spent enough time around it that I have become a Barbecue Whisperer, Hedonism Evangelist, and Culinary Mythbuster. An eater, drinker, writer, photographer, and teacher and I love cooking. Almost as much as eating. Especially outdoor cooking. The Bacchus is my paragon.
In addition to the editing this website, I have written Meathead, The Science of Great BBQ & Grilling, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
I've had the privilege of judging barbecue and other foods and drinks from Italy to California. I have been a judge at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue, at the first Kingsford Invitational, at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, at the Banco d'Assagio wine competition in Torgiano, Italy, at the World-Wide Mustard Competition, and the World Championship Steak Cook-Off. I have served as Chief Judge of the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and Chief Judge of the College Football Hall of Fame Kickoff Riboff (click the link read my argument for being enshrined in the Hall), and I founded and directed for many years the World Wine Championships, World Beer Championships, and World Spirits Championships.
Along the way I have tried to share my love of the sensory with words and pictures. I was a journalism major at the University of Florida and I have written hundreds of articles about food and drink for consumers as a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post (the great Phyllis Richmann was my editor), the Chicago Tribune (several not so great editors), and scores more for the trade magazine Restaurant Hospitality (the awesome Gail Bellamy was my editor). My food columns can still be found on Huffington Post and many other publications.
I've been helping folks learn about food and drink online since 1990 when I started Wine & Dine Online as part of LAOnline, long before anybody typed "w" three times in a row. I then hosted the Food & Drink Network on America Online from 1992-2000, built Tastings.com in 1998, and then built this site in 2005.
I lectured for more than a decade on wine at Cornell University's famous School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, NY, and I was an adjunct instructor at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago for three years. As founder of the Beverage Testing Institute I produced seven books on wine, beer, and spirits.
Somewhere along the way I studied photography with the revered Jerry N. Uelsmann and picked up the world's first Masters degree in Art in Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago studying under the pioneering Sonia Landy Sheridan. My photos have been bought by a lot of folks from TIME to Playboy, and my first one man show was at the gallery at Robert Mondavi Winery. Here's an article about my food photography with tips on technique and a list of my tools.
Among my most powerful childhood memories is the seductive scent of sweetly-sauced ribs sizzling and crisping on Dad's grill. In cooler weather Mom would roast them in the oven and serve them swimming in sauce. My interest in cooking began when I was about 10 and Mom and Dad opened a restaurant and I got to be a real jerk, a soda jerk. They named the place after a beautiful flower, the Oleander. We later learned it was poisonous, and eventually the restaurant failed. If you ever hear that I'm opening a restaurant, hunt me down and shoot me.
I suppose there is some symbolism in the fact that I went to Fruitville Elementary School near Sarasota, and then went to McIntosh Middle School. At Merritt Island High, my senior year science project was setting up a test plant to measure the oxygen output from algae, and then harvesting it for food to see if it could be used in space travel. I developed my first recipe, algae cookies. They needed a LOT of chocolate chips. It won a prize from NASA at the 1967 Florida State Science Fair. I just showed pictures of the cookies because if the judges had tasted them I would not have won anything.
I first discovered real barbecued ribs, smoked over wood, at a rickety joint named Y.T. Parker's Bar-B-Q in Gainesville, When I was at the University of Florida. I also discovered hot pepper sauce at Y.T.'s. He put four sauces on the wobbly tables, mild, regular, hot, and one more. If hot was not potent enough for you, he would whup one up even more flammable. If you could eat one hotter than anyone else had eaten before, he let you name it, and that was the fourth bottle. Last time I was there, in the 1970s, he was up to "Super Sabre Jet". My parents had warned me that smoking marijuana would lead to harder stuff. Well, they were right. I gave up weed and took up smoking pork.
Since then I have become an omnivore, eating and drinking for a living since 1970. It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it. And I've got wine and sauce stains on all my shirts and the well-marbled waistline to prove I do it well.
Over the years, outdoor cooking has become my passion (my wife would call it my obsession). A radio interviewer introduced me once as a "Barbecue Whisperer" a moniker I kinda like. My ambition to share a few recipes and tips is what has fired me to bring this website to life. I hope you like it!