Barbecue Bros Film Club: The Chef Show S1E8 – “Hot Luck” (Netflix)

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Monk: In the first of two episodes with Aaron Franklin, “The Chef Show” guys learned the basics of trimming, rubbing, and serving a brisket. Now, Favreau and Choi stick around to serve a variation of Choi’s famous short ribs at Franklin’s Hot Luck festival.

But before that, they are chatting over a ridiculous looking platter of meat at Franklin Barbecue and discussing the the “left vs right” theory of brisket. In short, the majority of cows are “rightys” (like humans) and get up from a lying position on their right side. So the theory goes, pitmasters always will want a left brisket from their distributors and thus they are harder to find. Franklin, however, doesn’t lend any credence to this theory and calls BS, even though he notes that he just so happens to have a lot of left briskets at his restaurant. Favreau jokes that he and the rest of the regular joes out there must get all the right briskets for their backyard then. They also discuss stick burners and Franklin’s approach to temperate versus feel. As with any of these conversations, its fascinating to get insight into Franklin’s mind.

Then, the conversation shifts to the Hot Luck Festival, which Aaron created to be the “anti-food-festival festival” for chefs and cooks. This was filmed ahead of the very first one in 2017, and Franklin explains his approach in inviting friends and cooks that he admires. Essentially, he wants each chef to cook what they would cook for their friends, “even if that’s just hot dogs.” Roy Choi is cooking his famous Kalbi short ribs with the tweak that he will be starting them off in the smoker, which isn’t normally the case for Korean short ribs (but which Franklin is very into). Then, Favreau joins Choi in the kitchen to begin prep.

Choi begins game planning what prep can be done today (sauce, kimchi) versus what would need to be done tomorrow (smoking and grilling of the ribs). With just one Vitamix blender (as opposed to a big immersion blender that could be submerged into the big pot), the process isn’t as efficient as it could be but you can see where Choi is adjusting the scaled-up recipe based on instinct and tasting along the way. I wonder if Favreau knew exactly what he signed up when he volunteered to assist Roy in the kitchen.

Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn makes a brief cameo as Favreau and Choi are heading to the smokehouse to check out their smoker for the following day. He will make another appearance later in the episode.

The final piece of prep for the day is marinating the beef short ribs in the Kalbi sauce they just made; Favreau looks exhausted by the end of it.

After a quick diversion to a deconstructed s’more from Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar (and the custom-made flame apparatus create by Franklin for the festival), it’s finally the day of the festival and time to get down to business. Favreau is once again put to work loading the smoker with the short ribs and 5 hours later, they are done with the initial smoke part of the process. Choi serves a sample rib to fellow Angeleno Adam Perry Lang of APL, who is in town for the festival and approves.

Choi shows Favreau how to finish the ribs on the grill and then heads out to the festival to begin serving. Favreau sends platters of finished ribs out to Choi who slices them and puts them in a bowl with rice and the kimchi they prepared yesterday.

Hot Luck looks awesome, and you get a little sense of the other dishes and chefs/cooks there, including the aforementioned Daniel Vaughn’s smoked NY strip taco.

This episode was a little more process-oriented than the previous episode, mainly because of Choi’s participation in Hot Luck. I’ve gotta say, it was funny to see Favreau working so hard though I must sympathize because that looked to be extremely hot conditions at the festival considering it was May in Austin.

While these two episodes are my only exposure to “The Chef Show” to date, I may go back and check out the other, non-barbecue episodes. Favreau and Choi have an easy going camaraderie between them and the episodes are a good length at 30 minutes or less each. Season 1 was broken into two “volumes” that both premiered in 2019 so I will be curious to see how much more of this show (if any) there will be since Favreau is now helming “The Mandolorian” on Disney+ and Choi is surely busy with his own ventures. In any case, these two episodes are a welcome insight into the mind of Aaron Franklin that you wouldn’t be able to get by watching old episodes of “BBQ Pitmasters.”

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Barbecue Bros Film Club: The Chef Show S1E7 – “Aaron Franklin” (Netflix)

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Monk: Writer/director/producer Jon Favreau caught the food bug while filming his movie “Chef” (in which Aaron Franklin had a cameo) and has turned that into the travel/food docuseries “The Chef Show” where he explores the county with Los Angeles food truck godfather Roy Choi (who was a producer as well was the inspiration for the movie). In a couple of episodes from season 1, Jon and Roy stop in Austin to spend time with Aaron Franklin before checking out the Hot Luck Festival (which I’ll recap next week).

The episode starts with the three of them meeting up for breakfast tacos at the Pueblo Viejo taco truck. There, Favreau gets a brief history from Franklin on the start of Franklin Barbecue from the tiny first trailer in 2009 where he was on the forefront of the craft barbecue movement in Austin and ultimately the US. While Franklin’s briskets weren’t quite at the current level when they first opened, it was through the repetition of smoking briskets every day no matter the weather or greenness of the wood that Franklin got the briskets to be of a consistent quality. Roy and Aaron compared notes from the early days (and simpler times) of their respective food trucks, and how they eventually learned to embrace the hours-long lines of people and the possibility of disappointing them.

The middle segment focuses on Favreau prepping a brisket in the kitchen at Franklin Barbecue, getting tips along the way. Favreau also tells the brief story of smoking a brisket and flying with it cross-country to meet Bill Murray to convince him to do The Jungle Book. Then, Franklin shows Favreau how he would trim his brisket (14:54). For those without a Master Class subscription to watch Aaron Franklin run through his brisket process step by step, I would imagine they would want to study this segment very carefully.

Then, Favreau and Franklin season their briskets (18:59) with Franklin’s half and half rub of Morton’s Kosher salt and 16 mesh black pepper, which they age. Franklin is careful not to waste too much pepper, as he apparently accidentally throws away $200 per week (!!) in pepper from the side of the board. From there, the briskets are off to the smoker.

The final part of the episode is Favreau slicing for customers in line at Franklin (though no orders are being taken and it looks to be not during a regular service since each customer just gets a slice of brisket on white bread). Franklin is of course there to give him tips on his slicing, from using the thumb as a guide to making sure not to twist his wrist during the action of slicing.

In this episode of “The Chef Show”, Favreau brings a fan and backyard smoker’s perspective to Franklin Barbecue (albeit, a backyard smoker who happens to be a big Hollywood player and has Aaron Franklin on speed dial). Choi is less a part of the show and somewhat relegates himself to the background with not much from him after the initial segment on the humble beginnings of his food truck. Though he does get a little more run in the next episode where he is cooking his short ribs at the Hot Luck festival. Franklin himself is great on camera, and his personality shines through. All in all, the 26 minute episode breezes by very quickly and is worth checking out for any barbecue fan with a Netflix account.

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Barbecue on Netflix Streaming (Updated August 2019)

NOTE: This is an updated version of a post that was last updated in October 2017.

Monk: 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 I missed? Feel free to comment below and I will update the post.

New(ish) to Netflix

Queer Eye S3E3 – “Jones Bar-B-Q” (47 mins)

This episode of Queer Eye helped make the Jones Bar-B-Q sisters – Little and Shorty – international barbecue celebrities when it aired earlier in 2019, but they have been doing barbecue in Kansas City for decades. Their sauce with the redesigned label courtesy of the Queer Eye crew is now a huge seller, with the website prominently displaying a banner reading “Please allow a 7-10 day delay in shipping as we have been overwhelmed at the response and will send your order as soon as we can.” From the looks of the episode, it appears that the newly found fame is well-deserved.

Ugly Delicious S1E5 – “BBQ” (47 mins)

Chef David Chang’s Netflix series will return for a second season soon but episode 5 in season one covered barbecue as well as other live fire customs across the world. I recapped it for the film club here.

Street Food S1E9 – “Cebu, Philippines” (31 mins)

In the Philippines lechon, or whole roasted pig, is the preferred form of barbecue in this nation of over 7,000 islands. In this food custom, a smaller suckling pig is tied around a pole and rotated over a live fire for hours. This episode covers lechon in addition to a few other food customs from the city of Cebu in southern Philippines.

Taco Chronicles S1E5 – “Barbacoa” (31 mins)

The Taco Chronicles is a Spanish-language food series where each episode focuses on a different type of taco. The “Barbacoa” episode focuses on the lamb/goat form of barbecue primarily located in Mexico and the southern border of Texas, which I’ve never tasted myself but is described on the episode as being “softer than the tortilla it is served on.”

Still on Netflix

Barbecue (101 mins)

I recapped this full-length film about live fire cooking across the world in our Barbecue Bros Film club series here.

Cooked S1E1 – “Fire” (52 mins)

In this first episode of the 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.

The Mind of the 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 (known for previous work with Anthony Bourdain).

The Mind of the Chef S2E7 – “Low Country BBQ” (23 mins)

Whereas season 1 followed David Chang on his culinary adventures (see above), 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.

Click through to see more episodes no longer available on Netflix

Barbecue Bros Film Club: Ugly Delicious – “BBQ” (S1E5)

Ugly Delicious is a new Netflix series brought to us by Chef David Chang of Momofuku and food writer Peter Meehan. Like many shows of this ilk, each episode explores a different food or concept – from tacos to fried chicken to pizza and more. Though technically titled “BBQ”, this episode does explore the food-over-flame customs of other cultures – Korean BBQ in Los Angeles, greens over flame in Noma in Copenhagen (huh?), Peking Duck in Beijing, and yakitori chicken from Tokyo. Those are nice and all (and well worth watching the entire episode) but I’ll focus on the barbecue I’m used to in this write-up.

The episode kicks off with Adam Perry Lang prepping and starting a beef rib smoke at 4am in the morning in Los Angeles. 10 hours later, he pulls the beef rib out of the smoker and serves it up to David, Peter, and novelist Amelia Gray. The conversation over the meat that ensues discusses traditional vs. new and whether barbecue is uniquely American, setting the table for later segments in the episode.

Choice quote from Adam Perry Lang:

“I think the traditional barbecue is freaking unbelievable and I don’t want to change that…but I really look at it as live fire cooking. Beef and pork with fire creates a super flavor.”

The episode then moves to the Whole Hog Extravaganza, a pitmaster convention at the famed 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro, IL with some serious talent in attendance from Asheville (Buxton Hall Barbecue), Nashville (Martin’s Bar-B-Q Joint, Peg Leg Porker), and Austin (Micklethwait Craft Meats).

At 8:50, they go back to the discussion in Los Angeles on the regionalization of barbecue but I honestly don’t understand the point that David Chang is making here:

“That’s what bothers me is that it became regional because someone decided to take a chance to do something a little bit different. And I hate when things become an institution”.

Huh? Is he saying that he wishes barbecue was somehow more homogeneous throughout the South? How does “things becoming an institution” fit into that at all? And what’s wrong with something becoming an institution? This is not a coherent argument to me.

The episode then takes a detour to Koreatown and Copenhagen from 9:55 until 16:21 before returning back to the Whole Hog Extravaganza in Murphysboro.

Screenshot (30)

You may recall that Carey Bringle railed against the True ‘Cue pledge in 2015, rejecting their claim that true barbecue is only smoked over wood only because he himself uses both wood-assisted gas smoker as well as wood-fired pits in his restaurants. Well, it seems as if he is still at it in 2017:

People get caught up in pits and people get caught up in fuels. And they get really passionate about it. I’m passionate about telling people: “Don’t tell me how to cook my shit.” It’s about what ends up on your plate.

Next, we get an extended scene of Elliot Moss breaking down a pig and explaining his story behind Buxton Hall and why he does what he does (“it’s always been in my heart”). He mentions that being in Asheville means people care about where their food comes from so he uses pasture-raised hogs which are quite expensive. Which for Moss, just means that he uses every part of the animal.

For the amount of labor and love and how many people’s hands touch it, it should be one of the most expensive things you can buy for food.

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