Monk: Before “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown”, Anthony Bourdain’s first food travelogue show was “A Cook’s Tour” on the Food Network. In the second season, he visited Texas, Kansas City, and NC – which he refers to as “the barbecue triangle” – and explored barbecue culture for what may have been his first time (at least on recorded camera). The NC section (starts at 15:29) visits with Ed Mitchell at his old joint in Wilson to explore eastern NC whole hog barbecue, one of his first barbecue loves.
Description: BBQ is the classic American food that’s featured in Kansas City, Houston, and North Carolina. The #1 food writer and television presenter in the world, and star of Travel Channel and CNN, Anthony Bourdain reinvented the food travel genre. In his groundbreaking first television series, Bourdain travels around the world indulging his taste for local cuisine and eccentric characters. You never know what he’ll say, who he will meet, or what they will have for dinner.
Monk: Two decades ago, Anthony Bourdain and his production team reached out to Ed Mitchell at The Pit in Raleigh to talk about getting on season 2 of his show “A Cook’s Tour.” The only issue was that it was in the middle of a lunch rush. So, Ed Mitchell being a man of the people, he told him to call back because he was busy.
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
The Trip interviews Dr. Howard Conyers, a SC native who received an undergraduate degree at North Carolina A&T followed by a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and materials science from Duke. Thusly, he is a rocket scientist by day and a whole hog barbecue man by night and weekend in his home of New Orleans. Spurred on by some fingers of whiskey, he and podcast host Nathan Thornburg discuss a number of topics, including Conyers’ future plans for a book and documentary on the history of barbecue. The status of his web series Nourish is still up in the air, from what I gather.
The Trip is a podcast from Roads & Kingdoms, a food, travel, and politics publication which won a James Beard award for publication of the year in 2017. The late Anthony Bourdain was the first and only investor in Roads & Kingdoms, and they partnered on Explore Parts Unknown, the digital home for the Parts Unknown TV show, for which they won a 2018 Primetime Emmy.
Rocket scientist and barbecue pitmaster Dr. Howard Conyers talks aeroelastic engineering, whole-hog roasting, and how black pitmasters have been written out of the history of barbecue.
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