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Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling

More amazing recipes, techniques, science, mythbusting

"Only one outdoor cooking book this summer? Make it 'Meathead'" Chicago Tribune

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Pitmaster Club Seminars With An Unprecedented Faculty

"Oh I get by with a little help from my friends. Mmmm I get high with a little help from my friends. Mmmm going to try with a little help from my friends." The Beatles

I want you to meet my friends. They know a thing or two about barbecue and grilling. They've taught me a lot and I'm sure they can teach us all a thing or two more. They are the luminaries of the world of barbecue and each month one of them joins me for a video Pitmaster Seminar for members only. Each seminar lasts about an hour. Many members say they are worth the membership fee alone. All past seminars are archived so you can view them at your leisure, 24/7/365. Below are some of the recent seminars and if you are a member you can view them here. If you are not already a member of our Pitmaster Club, click here for more info and to join.

Here's a seven minute excerpt from our seminar on salt with Dr. Greg Blonder.

Doctor Greg Blonder

Dr. Greg Blonder has done two seminars

"The Magic Of Salt: So Vital, And So Misunderstood"

"Wood, Smoke, and the Smokering"

Dr. Greg Blonder, is an amazing polymath and the AmazingRibs.com resident science advisor and mythbuster. He has a physics BS from MIT and a physics PhD from Harvard. In his life as a physicist he rose to become the Chief Technical Advisor at AT&T's legendary Bell Labs and he holds more than 80 patents in the areas of optical disk recording, integrated fiber optic devices, displays, computer systems, software, and user interfaces.

As an entrepreneur, he has been a partner at the Morgenthaler Ventures, a technology centric venture capital firm that has supplied funds to Apple among others. He has also lectured at Columbia University and Wharton, written a number of articles for Business Week, and teaches Scenario Planning part time at Parson's The New School for Design.

His love of food, especially barbecue, has brought him to food science where he conducts original research for this website, and patiently answers my dumb questions. He has enough grills and smokers that he could open a retail business, and nobody I know understands better than he what happens when heat hits meat.

For this Seminar on Salt we discussed salt, why you need it in cooking, why it is essential for human survival, and how it reacts with different foods in its own special way.

For his seminar on smoke we discussed how much do different woods differ in flavor? What is smoke and is some better than others? How does smoke flavor food? How do I make good smoke? And more.

Harry Soo

Harry Soo on "Getting The Most Out Of Your Weber Smokey Mountain"

Harry Soo is an award-winning Grand Champion pitmaster and cooking instructor, specializing in easy, mouth-watering recipes for the home cook on the inexpensive 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain smoker.

Winner of season one of BBQ Pitmasters on TV, he has 27 Grand Championships and more than 80 first place trophies including a history-making first place in all four categories in the 2009 Way Out West BBQ Championship.

Incredibly, he competes using just one single lonely 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain! Yes, you read that correctly. His website, SlapYoDaddyBBQ.com has recipes, a blog, his class schedules, catering info, giveaway drawings, and more.

Rich Browne

Rick Browne, PhB, on "BBQ Desserts"

Rick a renowned TV cooking show host, photojournalist, and author with 15 cookbooks under his belt.

He is the creator, host, and executive producer of public television's popular Barbecue America TV series, a cooking and travelogue series highlighting the world's outdoor culinary landscape. It has aired on more than 230 stations. He has also been the host of an Outdoor Channel cooking/travel show: "Ready, AimÉGrill" visiting locations across Canada and the US. His culinary travels have taken him around the world including assignments in 47 states and 36 countries.

Browne has appeared on "Good Morning America," the "TODAY" show, "Live with Regis & Kelly," and has been featured in People Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Consumer's Digest, Better Homes & Gardens, and USA Today.

Browne holds an honorary Ph.B. (Doctor of Barbecue Philosophy) bestowed upon him by the Kansas City Barbecue Society for his expertise and commitment to barbecue.

Tuffy Stone and meathead

Tuffy "The Professor" Stone on "Brisket"

Without question Tuffy is the single most respected cook on the BBQ competition circuit. He is best known as the "nice" judge on BBQ Pitmasters on TV, but he is far more than a judge or a nice guy, he is one heckuva a cook. In 2013 Tuffy & his Dad, a team named "Cool Smoke," pulled off an unprecedented feat by winning the two most prestigious events in Q'dom, The American Royal Invitational in Kansas City, and the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, TN. In October 2014 he won the larger open division of the Royal, unprecedented.

Trained in French cuisine, Tuffy owns five restaurants named Q Barbeque based in Virginia. In his Pitmaster Seminar Tuffy discussed the way he manages to control the most difficult of all barbecue meats, beef brisket.

chris lilly

Chris Lilly on "Chicken"

Chris Lilly emerged on the barbecue scene in 1992 when he began working for the Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q restaurant in Decatur, AL, recognized by The Wall Street Journal as having the best pork barbecue in the country and named the "Best Barbecue Restaurant in Alabama" by the Birmingham News. Lilly is now vice president, executive chef, and partner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Franchises operating two company-owned restaurants and a franchise in Monroe, NC.

Lilly is also head chef of the Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team, and the winner of 11 World BBQ Championships in several barbecue categories, three Memphis in May Grand Championships, the American Royal International Invitational, the Grand Championship at the 2003 International Jamaican Jerk Barbeque Cook-off, and in 2012, he won the title of "King of the Smokers" at an invitational competition organized by Sterling Ball.

Lilly has been a guest chef for 11 years running at the Food Network's South Beach Wine and Food Festival and has served twice as guest chef at the James Beard Foundation and the American Institute of Wine and Food. Lilly also consults with Kingsford Charcoal as a national spokesperson, the National Pork Board, KC Masterpiece, NASCAR, and Ritz Carlton.

Lilly has appeared on "Live with Regis and Kelly," "The Today Show," "The Martha Stewart Show," "ESPN College Football Live," and "ESPN Game Day," as well as numerous Food Network programs. In addition to the television appearances, his cooking has been featured in Southern Living, People, Food and Wine, Food Network Magazine, The New York Times, Men's Health, The Wall Street Journal, and Maxim Magazine. Lilly was the co-creator of the nine eppisode "The All-Star BBQ Showdown" for The Outdoor Life Network (OLN) in 2005. In 2006 he was co-creator and executive producer of the "BBQ Championship" series on Versus Network.

Big Bob Gibson's book

In 2009, Lilly authored a compilation of recipes, stories, and expert advice on outdoor cooking: "Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint by Chris Lilly". The National Barbecue Association awarded it "Book of the Year" and it is now in its 7th printing.

lilly's fire smoke book

His second book, "Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets ", came out in May 2014.

If you've been around barbecue surely you have heard about how Big Bob created the signature white sauce for chicken that is oft imitated but never duplicate (heaven knows, I've tried). If you visit the restaurants, you must order it. He has also created a very popular dish called Loaf Pan Chicken, in his book. We'll talk about preparing them, grilling, smoking, birds, the white sauce, his loafpan method, and more.

candy sue weaver

Candy Sue Weaver On "Pellet Smoking"

Candy Sue Weaver is one of the best known and most respected people in the world of barbecue. She is President Emeritus of the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the largest barbecue association in the world and sanctioning body to more than 500 competitions. She was elected to the Board of Directors in 2009, served as president from 2011 through 2013, and was re-elected to serve on the Board until 2016. Currently she is secretary and chairman of the education committee. She also is a member of International Barbeque Cookers Association's and competes under their rules also, the Fort Smith BBQ Society, the Oklahoma Barbecue Society, the Rocky Mountain Barbecue Association, and a lifetime member of KCBS. She is also a moderator on AmazingRibs.com

Her day job is VP of sales & marketing for BBQr's Delight, maker of food grade wood pellets for fuel in pellet-fired cookers and pellets for smoke flavoring. She has been competing since 2003 and has a roomful of trophies including a first place for sauce in her first competition ever. I had the pleasure of hanging out with her through a competition once and wrote this article about the experience.

We discussed how pellets are made, how pellet smokers work, and how to amp up the smoke flavor among other things.

John Markus

John Markus on "BBQ Pitmasters On TV"

John Markus is an Emmy award winning writer and producer and barbecue competitor with a Jambo stick burner. He, more than anyone, has popularized competition barbecue among the masses with his TV productions. In 2013 the Kansas City Barbeque Society gave him a PhB, its highest honor.

It all started with a partnership with Chris Lilly (see my interview with him here) and a 13 part competition broadcast called the "All Star BBQ Showdown" in 2006. It morphed into nine episodes of "The National BBQ Championship" and finally emerged as "BBQ Pitmasters", the popular and controversial competition series that continues today on Destination America. At air time he was putting the finishing touches on "The Kings of BBQ Barbecue Kuwait", a documentary film chronicling the mission of cooking barbecue for our troops stationed in The Mideast (no pork). It will premier in late summer 2015.

Markus wrote or co-wrote 67 episodes of "The Cosby Show", earning an Emmy, a Peabody, back-to-back Humanitas prizes, and a People's Choice award for "The Greatest Sitcom of All Time". He next co-created the Cosby spin-off "A Different World", which ran for six seasons on NBC. He has also written or produced for Al Franken, Michael Keaton, Jim Belushi, Garry Shandling, Ellen, Earl Wilson, and more. His play, co-written with Mark St. Germain, called "The Fabulous Lipitones", debuted at Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta in Spring of 2013 and is being produced in theatres across the nation. It is the story of a barbershop quartet that loses its lead singer to a strenuously high B-flat.

In our Seminar a surprisingly candid Markus shares behind the scenes looks, the inside scoop on some of the competitors (there is no love lost between him and Myron Mixon), some dirt on the judges, insight into "reality" TV and how it works, and why he thinks "we are in the final chapters of BBQ on TV". He also talks briefly about The Cosby Show, and about how a friend's awful ribs set him on the path to becoming a BBQ expert, competitor, and TV producer.

And many more

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About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, and how to cook great food outdoors. There are also buying guides to hundreds of barbeque smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, pulled pork, Texas brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, chili, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best all edited by Meathead Goldwyn.

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