Monday, February 25, 2008

2008 South Beach Food & Wine Festival - Chris Lilly

One of the highlights Friday was the chance to sit down with Chris Lilly, the reigning Food Network barbecue expert. He was in the middle of the twelve hour smoking process for that evening’s Moet & Chandon Champagne Party, when he took a break to meet with us. It was a very enlightening conversation. Lilly’s culinary achievements are extremely impressive – you can view his bio and awards below – and it was a privilege learning a few barbecue tips. For novices like us – the best pork barbecue is made by smoking the pork over low temperatures for a long period of time. You need to arrange the pork so that the smoke can circulate among the entire cut of meat. Even a good brisket requires long term smoke. Besides adding flavor the smoking process keeps the meat moist because during this process the pork’s fat essentially melts off and self bastes the meat. We also learned that there are several distinctions between cuts of port – and whether you use the shoulder, butt, or upper shoulder influences the decision on the type of sauce. Chris also changes his sauce depending on the season and has been known to make a white barbecue sauce when appropriate. We also discussed what types of spirits enhance a sauce and a bourbon based recipe is one of his favorites

Chris gave us some suggestions for pairing wine with barbecue and his most important point is to stay away from heavy smoky wines – i.e. wines that have been aged for a long period of time. The wood on wood flavor would basically overwhelm the palate and you would lose the characteristics of each. Instead, you could use a Rose, or a Pinot Noir, but the best choice is a wine with a semi-spicy finish, such as a Zinfandel or even a Gewurztraminer. I used this suggestion on Saturday by getting a plate of Bulldog Barbecue and pairing with Cubanisimo Vineyards 2006 Rose and 2006 Pinot Noir and then with Ridge Vineyard's Geyersville Proprietary Red (Zinfandel, Carignan, and Petite Sirah). Each wine enhanced the barbecue – with the Pinot influencing the meat and the Rose complementing the sauce – but I have to agree the Zinfandel brought out the best in the pork and the sauce.








BIO
Chris Lilly, husband and father of three children, is one of America's best-known barbecue pit masters. Chris emerged on the barbecue scene in 1992 when he began working for the world famous Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q restaurant in Decatur, Alabama. Recognized by The Wall Street Journal as having the best pork barbecue in the country and named the "Best Barbecue Restaurant in Alabama" by the Birmingham News, Chris is now vice president of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q.

Chris also is head chef of the award-winning Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team. He is the winner 10 World BBQ Championships including six Memphis in May World Titles (a.k.a. "The Super Bowl of Swine"), as well as the American Royal International Cook-Off and BBQ Sauce Competition (Best Sauce on the Planet), and eight state barbecue grand championships across the Southeast. Chris has also displayed his culinary talents abroad by capturing the Grand Championship at the 2003 International Jamaican Jerk Barbeque Cook-off. Widely recognized as one of the top pit masters in his field, Chris recently served as an honorary chef at the James Beard Foundation, American Institute of Wine and Food, and was a presenter at the Low-Country and Caribbean Food Conference at Johnson and Wales University.

In an effort to educate America on the fundamentals of championship barbecue, Chris was the co-creator of “The All-Star BBQ Showdown” for The Outdoor Life Network (OLN). This 9 episode BBQ television series aired in 2005. Along with creating the show, Chris has also assumed the Executive Producer role and hosted the show. In 2006, Chris continued with his television career as co-creator and executive producer of BBQ Championship Series on Versus Network.
Culinary Awards
Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Cook-off
1997 1st place BBQ sauce
1999 1st place BBQ sauce
1st place Pork
2000 1st place Pork - Grand Champion
2001 1st place Pork
2002 1st place Pork
1st place “People’s Choice”
2003 1st place Pork – Grand Champion
2004 1st place Pork
American Royal International Cook-off and BBQ Sauce Competition
1995 1st place White BBQ sauce
1998 1st place BBQ sauce
“Best Sauce on the Planet”
2002 1st place Chicken
1st place Reserve Grand Champion
International Jamaican Jerk Championship
2003 Grand Champion
Houston Livestock and Rodeo World BBQ Championship
2004 1st place ribs
1st place Reserve Grand Champion
Alabama State Barbecue Championship
1999 1st place Pork – Grand Champion
2000 1st place Pork
1st place Ribs – Grand Champion
2001 1st place Pork – Grand Champion
Tennessee State Barbecue Championship
1998 1st place Pork – Grand Champion
1999 1st place Pork – Grand Champion
2000 1st place Pork - Grand Champion
2001 1st place Pork – Grand Champion
Chili Pepper Magazine Barbecue Awards
2000 1st place BBQ sauce
2001 1st place vinegar BBQ sauce
1st place mustard BBQ sauce
2002 1st place spicy mustard BBQ sauce
2003 1st place mustard BBQ sauce
National Barbecue Association Awards of Excellence
2000 “Restaurant of the Year”
1st place hot BBQ sauce
1st place vinegar BBQ sauce
1st place mustard BBQ sauce
2001 1st place vinegar BBQ sauce
2002 1st place mustard BBQ sauce
2003 1st place mild vinegar BBQ sauce
1st place hot vinegar BBQ sauce
1st place mustard BBQ sauce
1st place hot BBQ sauce
2004 1st place BBQ sauce
1st place hot BBQ sauce
1st place mild vinegar sauce
The Southern Pride Cup, National Nonrestrictive Cook-off
2001 1st place
2002 1st place
Grand Champion
Texas Fiery Food Challenge
2001 1st place BBQ sauce
2002 1st place hot BBQ sauce
Louisiana State Barbecue Championship
1999 1st place beef
Grand Champion
American Institute of Wine and Food BBQ Rib Fly-In
2003 1st place, “Best Ribs in America
2004 1st place, “Best Ribs in America
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