Ray Lampe aka Dr. BBQ has written another book. This time its SLOW FIRE a Beginners guide to Barbecue. The book is full of very approachable recipes and content driven towards the novice BBQ’er. There is nothing in this book that is cooked above 250F. Its all about low and slow. Very little in the way of competition mentions. No grilling recipes are included. From the basics of brisket, pork, chicken and ribs to the more adventuresome Spicy Orange Duck its a great read.
The sauces have definitely taken it up a notch in this book. They are complex but not so complex that they are not easily replicated at home. I am really looking forward to making banana ketchup. I have been lucky to call Ray a friend for years and so I asked him many many questions not only about his new book but about his life as a BBQ Man.
What inspired you to write SLOW FIRE?
The idea that there are a lot of hero books out there are intimidating. The size of the books are intimidating. This is a down to earth book. I think it is important. I have the experience to do it. Its just about cooking BBQ. Not very much in competition.
Where does your creativity come from
I think that it is a gift that I can just do it. Just write. The way I start is by figuring out how may recipes I need and chapters. I need to write 75 titles. Later on some of them change or they are not viable. I just sit down and do it. At this point there are some good things about being old. First of all I am experienced, I have more comfort in all sorts of kitchens. It makes it easier to write and come up with creative recipes.
Who was/is your BBQ Mentor?
There were two guys- the first is Ed Roith. He was at the top of his game when I started with a Jedmaster. I bought one after him. He took me under his wing and helped me a lot. Most significant mentor. John Beadle from Grand Rapids MI – fun BBQ guy. He was never wildly successful and he always was there for the good times. Made me stay on the Saturday night. He taught me the right way to enjoy it and approach it. I think I was a better cook than him but he taught me how to enjoy it. Its different now – everyone is much more serious. More focused it was different back then.
What other BBQ’s do you enjoy other than your BGE?
I love my weber kettle. When I first stated dated Sandi she had a horrible gas grill. So I brought one (weber kettle) over to her house and left it there. I figured if it didn’t go well it wasn’t as expensive as leaving the egg. I think my Jedmaster is still one of my favorites. When I first started Oklahoma Joe (Horizons) or David Klose were the only viable commercial BBQ’s . The next wave was after Traegers and then the Jedmasters. It was one of the first set it and forget it bbq’s.
Ray Lampe has been sponsored by the BIG Green EGG for years
He also would like to thank the fine folks at Thermoworks
What is your favorite libation or cocktail to go with BBQ?
Jack Daniels & Coke Zero – Early times, Buffalo Times as long as there is coke Zero to go with it.
What is your favorite smoking wood?
Pecan. I always liked it. Karen Putnam was the first to teach me to use combinations of woods . I used to like a combination of oak and cherry.
What is your proudest BBQ accomplishment?
I got to cook with Chris Lilly at the James Beard house cooking real BBQ on the street. Very proud of that. It was a great experience.
Picture courtesy of Hoss’s BBQ & Catering
What is your proudest competition BBQ accomplishment?
The most important trophy would be 3rd overall at the American Royal. Gary Wells gave me the award in 1998. I didn’t expect to be third. Gary was a good friend of mine. AS soon as I walked off the stage there was John Willingham. I had been doing pretty well and he said a few things to that context.
I will tell you that last year at Sams Club winning the GC was pretty darn cool. Making a comeback after so many years.. I think that I am a bit disenchanted with competition BBQ currently. The people are so good at what they do. Everything is soo perfect. Is not as much fun anymore. For me I love going to the Royal – I think it is pretty special and there are lots of memories there for me. Since 1993 I have been going. Over 20 years it has evolved so much.
Where is your favorite place to BBQ?
At home. Staying home and cooking is the place to BBQ that I love the most.
What is your favorite recipe from the book SLOW FIRE?
The BBQ Duck with Spicy Orange Glaze, the Pastrami, and the Cuban Style leg of Pork. The BBQ recipes- there are so many and they are good. I have become a much better sauce maker and the sauces in this book are terrific.
Do you feel that you have learned everything you need to know about BBQ – considering your long career?
No definitely not. I go back a long ways but it never ends. There is always history to learn about. There are so many new things always being developed and always another BBQ joint to eat at.
Where do you like to eat BBQ?
I eat BBQ everywhere. In Florida – Fred Flemings Championship BBQ, Arthur Bryants, Big Bob Gibson, Cozy Corner, In Chicago – Smoque BBQ. Blue Smoke in Manhattan. I love eating BBQ turkey anywhere. In Texas though its always brisket.
What is your best advice to a novice backyard BBQ’er?
Patience. It takes a really long time. I am not a fan of hot and fast. It doesn’t make better food and takes away the element of what BBQ is. Taking a big piece of meat with a lot of fat and making it good. It takes a long time to cook great BBQ – get used to it.
What projects are you working on next?
New Cookbook. Won’t be out till 2014. I am going to grillfest in Minneapolis. Guest Chef (Legends Culinary Series) at Yankee Stadium May 9th & 22nd at the Legends Suite Club. Cooking class in Brandon Florida coming up. Oakland CA- July going to cook Santa Rosa Tex Wasabi’s . GrillStock in June. July at a winery with Chris Lilly. Might see me turn up on the Food Network in July. Book signing at Costco in June.
What are your favorite BBQ forums to read?
The BBQ Forum. The BBQ Brethren Forum – It amazes me how well everyone is very well behaved there. Great information.
How has in your opinions social media/bbq forums changed BBQ?
Its good and its bad. We all get to know each other. We have found each other and networked. It amazes me at the other end of the country I can walk into a bar full of BBQ’ers and I know them. The internet has a lot to do with it. I am not a fan of the contest sharing – the boxes and the recipes. Not that it is not nice to share but it is a lot of sharing. Its watered down the competition. The classes that are the same ingredients – all commercial products. No one seems to make their own anymore. Not skilled as much. Social media is a great communication tool. I can’t stand however the same regurgitated crap over and over again.
How many BBQ books do you own and which besides your own would you recommend?
I own all of them. LOL I would recommend – Walter Jetton’s LBJ’s ranch chef. I would recommend that one. Its from 1965. I buy most of them. I don’t read a lot of them because I just don’t want to steal ideas accidentally.
Where would you ideally like to travel next on a BBQ adventure?
I think I already did it. There are not many more places on my BBQ bucket list. I have been to the greats. Lockharts, Arthur Bryants etc. I have been lucky enough to travel to so many places.
I have not been to Alaska. Maybe ill have to head there next.
You recently came back from the UK, Why do you think Southern US style of BBQ is trending internationally?
The internet has made the world more available. It is the American cuisine. It is catching on. It has just so many elements. It has the food and the culture. Its not like burger or steak joints. When you walk into a joint -that BBQ guy cooking is revered. BBQ has so much more going on other than the food. The concept of cooking the lesser cuts. Very few chain restaurants of BBQ have worked. So many layers that make it interesting. Its good also because we like to eat it. It tastes great.
The way they cut meat there is really different. Brisket is chopped flat and slicing the point. They are very skilled chefs over there. The competition guys get stuck in this pattern here. Creativity is being bred out of it. I hate to see that. I find that over in the UK they have more creativity.
You have a legendary 5 o’clock tattoo – any plans for more?
YES. I was in England and it inspired me to get pork fried rice on the inside of my arm…….
Do you think physical cook books are becoming obsolete? Is everything going to be online?
Obsolete no. Changing yes. They are becoming more collectibles and are becoming more impulse buys. Now to travel its easy to travel with an Ipad loaded with books. This is the first time I have had a lot of this book on downloads for tablets, kindles and Ipads. The big books for $40 or $50 come with the food network stars. Online more of the smaller books are being sold.
Your relationship with fiancee Sandi seems to have mellowed you in the last few years – would you agree?
Yes there is no doubt I am very happy. The place I am in my life and where I am – she is a big part of it. Is all good. Just wait to see what comes next.
Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe has a total of 6 books in print:
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