Monk: This holiday while we’re all stuck at home bunkering down until the COVID-19 vaccine is widely distributed, why not watch some barbecue-focused TV shows to take your mind off things?
This will be our last post of the year, so we will see you in 2021!
Suggested Order of Viewing
- The American Barbecue Showdown (Netflix)
- BBQuest (Hulu)
- Chef’s Table: BBQ (Netflix)
- The Chef Show S1V1E8, S1V1E9 (Netflix)
- Cooked S1E1 (Netflix)
This post is updated as of December 2020
New: The American Barbecue Showdown (8 episodes)
The American BBQ Showdown is more “Great British Bakeoff” than “Chopped” or “Top Chef,” with 8 amateur or competition barbecue pitmaster competing against each other in different meat competitions. Filmed outside of Atlanta in pre-pandemic times, it provided a welcome distraction for barbecue fans this past fall.
The Chef Show Season 1 – Volume 1 Episode 7 – “Franklin”; S1V1E8 – “Hot Luck”
Hollywood mega writer/director/producer/actor Jon Favreau and LA Food Truck godfather Roy Choi spend two episodes with Aaron Franklin at Franklin Barbecue, first learning about his approach to brisket (S1E7) before participating in Franklin’s inaugural Hot Luck Festival in 2017 (S1E8). Check out our AV Club recap here and here)
New: Chef’s Table: BBQ (4 episodes)
This barbecue and live-fire cooking edition of the Chef’s Table series profiles 4 pitmasters or live-fire cooking chefs, with the Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s Barbecue and Rodney Scott episodes being the highlight for American barbecue fans.
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.
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.
Street Food: Asia 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.”
Ugly Delicious S1E5 – “BBQ” (47 mins)
In episode 5 of season one of Chef David Chang’s Netflix series, he covered barbecue as well as other live fire customs across the world. Check out our AV club recap here.
BBQuest (2 seasons)
Across two four-episode seasons of the travel show co-produced by the Texas Beef Council, host and native Texan Kelsey Pribilski criss-crosses Texas to meet with some of the best pitmasters in the state. She’s in search of the state’s best barbecue as well as secret barbecue menu items. The first season gets the large cities (Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth) out of the way, while season two is able to tackle more remote locales. Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn even makes an appearance as Kelsey’s guide for the Big Bend episode (S2E1).
Eat, Sleep, BBQ (4 episodes)
Official Description: “Rashad Jones embarks on a road trip to meet people who share his
passion for barbecue.”
Bama-Q (3 seasons)
“Bama-Q” follows members of the Alabama Barbecue Association through competitions (similar to the first season of “BBQ Pitmasters”)
Faith, Hope and BBQ (57 mins)
Official Description: “Food for the belly, and food for the soul. A delightful, tasty and charming look at a small town, rural Florida, African American “Church built on BBQ”
Food Safari – Fire (10 episodes)
Host Maeve O’Meara dedicated an entire 10-episode season to exploring live-fire cooking traditions across the world
Primal Grill with Steve Raichlen S3 (13 episodes)
Grilling authority Steven Raichlen provides step-by-step instructions on a variety of barbecue dishes from across the world.
The Wood Whisperer Barbecue (4 episodes)
Official Description: “Renowed woodworker, Marc Spagnuolo uses his knowledge of wood to help him explore the world of barbecue and grilling. Spoiler, that knowledge doesn’t help at all”
The World According to Jeff Goldblum S1E5 – “BBQ” (28 mins)
A rather superficial look into the world of barbecue from the ever-quirky Goldblum.