NOTE: This is an updated version of a post from May 2014. By no means is this an exhaustive list but here are the barbecue shows and episodes that I’ve found on Netflix streaming. What have we missed? Feel free to comment below and I will update the post.
Cooked S1E1 – “Fire” (52 mins)
What’s the closest thing to kind of primordial, fire cooking that we have? In America its barbecue, southern barbecue.
In this episode from the new miniseries on food, food author Michael Pollan goes in search of primordial cooking and finds it in eastern North Carolina and Ed Mitchell. The episode follows Ed and his son Ryan as they pick out a pig from the butcher shop, get the coals started, and then proceed to smoke a whole hog for a small gathering at the end of the episode. Michael and a couple of buddies even try to emulate it on their own in a small, backyard pit in California. Ed also tells a story of how he learned to cook pigs from his grandfather, a former slave. The barbecue section starts at approximately 26:00.
I’ve only watched this episode, but Cooked looks to be a fascinating documentary series that I will continue to watch past the first episode.
The Mind of a Chef S2E7 – “Lowcountry BBQ” (23 mins)
Whereas season 1 followed David Chang on his culinary adventures (see below), season 2 of The Mind of a Chef follows noted Charleston Chef Sean Brock. In the seventh episode, he smokes a whole hog with friend Rodney Scott in South Carolina’s lowcountry for a small gathering despite less than optimal conditions. Sean also prepares a couple of lowcountry sides with guest chefs. Anthony Bourdain narrates.
The Layover with Anthony Bourdain S2E7 – “Atlanta” (23 mins)
Bourdain stops at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack while in Atlanta to take down some ribs. While some may object to ribs not being barbecue, Bourdain compares it to being “married to a Harvard graduate supermodel, but every once in a while you just want a really nasty girl in cheap heels with a trashy Queens accent who chews gum – I’m saying you want that, not me.”
The Mind of a Chef S1E15 – “Smoke” (23 mins)
This series’ first season follows chef David Chang and his culinary experiences around the globe. This particular episode deals with the idea of “smoke” and in addition to short segments on barbecue styles, this episode includes ones on Allen Benton’s bacon, as well as a visit by David Chang and Sean Brock to the Louisville Slugger factory to get personalized bats made.
The North Carolina barbecue segment visited Raleigh’s The Pit back when pit master Ed Mitchell was still there and showcases whole hog barbecue. The Texas segment interviews Joe Capello, the pitmaster from City Market in Luling while in Kansas City they talk with the Doug Worgul, the marketing director of Oklahoma Joe’s. Pretty basic stuff, but well shot and produced by ZPZ Productions (who works with Anthony Bourdain among others).
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown S1E4 – “Libya” (42 mins)
While there would be several better episodes from Bourdain’s previous show No Reservations, unfortunately that series is not currently available on Netflix streaming. This episode doesn’t deal directly with barbecue but ends with a poignant scene on a beach on Libya’s coast with the following voiceover quote from Bourdain:
“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.”
NO LONGER ON NETFLIX
Best Food Ever S1E5 – “Buzzworthy BBQ” (42 mins)
Narrated by John Goodman, this episode counts down the 10 most “buzzworthy” barbecue joints in the US (whatever that means), although the list itself is a bit questionable. Most joints featured aren’t the traditional southern ones you might think of and they seem to want to feature joints with unique dishes like smoked salmon from a place in Washington state and BBQ nachos from a joint in Memphis. At most there are 2 legit joints on the overall list, and I suspect that the other ones may have simply had a good publicist to land on the show.
BBQ Pitmasters – 3 seasons (42 mins)
This is clearly the most well known barbecue reality/competition show and has gone through a couple of different formats. It’s first season was filmed documentary style, following several competitors over the course of a barbecue competition season at various events. Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone were two of the competitors followed during the course of this format and would go on to be full-time judges starting in season 3. The less said about the guest judge format of season 2 the better. I’ve tried to watch it but can’t get through a single episode.