Thursday, March 27, 2014
BBQ Crawl: Worth Looking At And Then Some
I usually avoid all food shows on TV these days.
I liked the Food Network when it had prestigious chefs who could tell us exactly how to make a masterpiece.
But lately it's degenerated into food competitions with budding chefs banging into each other as they prepare obscure delicacies --a sort of Cooking With The Stars rip off.
But a friend urged me to catch the Canadian made BBQ Crawl as a delightful reversion back to the day when food shows celebrated great food.
And so I watched the first two episodes of the new season. Maybe it's because I usually avoid those barbecued chickens in the supermarket as completely inedible. and here I was introduced to real barbecuing.
First surprise is the enthusiastic host Danielle Dimovski who takes time to give us the relevant facts.
More than once as she travels with her crew through the American South she's teased for being "that Canadian" and she takes the ribbing well enough.
As she told me over the pone "We shoot each episode in three to four days. I want to get the owners as I see them off camera so the idea is to make it a stress free occasion. They have a love of barbecue and obviously talent because some of these places have been going for decades."
First stop in the first new half hour episode is Jack's Barbecue in downtown Nashville. The location alone makes for a must-see episode --Jack's borders legendary Ryman hall, original home of the Grand Ole Pry --for decades the stars would tip toe through the back entrance between sets.
The decor is indeed truly awesome as is the care the pit master puts into the process. But I think I would have to pass on the decadent desserts like the awesome cheese pie.
"Jack has a great story to tell," explains Dimovski. "So I just sit back and let him tell it. Like so many he's resisted the urge to turn it all into a chain. He thinks the quality might suffer in a franchise,."
As always Danielle gets help from her staff of two: Randy and Andy who supply humor and comment that perks up each story.
"Of course I've met most of my subjects many times," she laughs. But there's an art i telling a story in a mere 22 minutes.
And just to show she knows what she's talking about Danielle and the boys get involved in a contest that finds her honored with several wins in competition with the best in the business.
My surprise was finding how savory and tender she makes her brisket --I've tried Canadian brisket and it seems from a different tradition.
"I know we get a lot of requests for addresses so in a way I'm promoting these chefs. A fair number of viewers says they want to go down in person and visit some of these famous spots."
Dimovski says "It's certainly not a Canadian tradition, great barbecue. I think it originated in the South during the slave era. But, yes, I'll barbecue in my back yard --remember some of what we show like whole hog barbecue in a pit --that takes a minimum of 15 hours.
"It's a great skill when done just right. I've still got a lot more stories to tell believe me."
BBQ CRAWL PREMIERES ON T+E (TRAVEL + ESCAPE) TUESDAY APRIL 1 AT 10 P.M.
MY RATING: ***1/2.