Charleston Dining & Fun

7 Aug

CharlestonDining-1_MarthaLousIn mid-July, I traveled to Charleston to try some new restaurants and attend a barbecue event. Recently named the top travel destination by Travel & Leisure magazine, Charleston has a burgeoning food scene and so many good restaurants. I met up with a group of new and old Charleston and Texas friends, and we had an array of amazing dining experiences.

We started off with soul food at Martha Lou’s. Fried chicken, mac and cheese, butter beans {my favorite} and other vegetables, and chitterlings. The Texas contingent is pictured above: Robert Lerma, Robert Sierra, and John Lewis with Martha Lou Gadsden and Ms. Debra on the left, and Emma and Travis Heim on the right.

CharlestonDining-2_RobertSierraRobert Sierra and me, with a Robert Lerma photo bomb.

CharlestonDining-3_HomeTeamBBQ“Let’s be incognito,” I said to Robert Lerma, as we entered Hometeam BBQ. That didn’t work out so well as we were instantly greeted by name  and treated like royalty. We’ve been Instagram friends for a few years and I loved seeing their operation in person.

CharlestonDining-4_HomeTeamBBQThey cook on both Lang and Southern Pride pits.

CharlestonDining-5_HomeTeamBBQHere’s owner/pitmaster Aaron Siegel, showing off some pork bellies.

CharlestonDining-6_HomeTeamBBQThe trays of food just kept coming. These pork rinds, dusted with their dry rub, and served with pimiento cheese were crazy good.

CharlestonDining-7_HomeTeamBBQThe Gamechanger is my new favorite frozen cocktail. Golden spiced rum, dark rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple and orange juices.

CharlestonDining-8_HomeTeamBBQFresh, lightly battered fried okra. Great.

CharlestonDining-9_HomeTeamBBQBrisket, beef ribs, house made pickles. So good.

CharlestonDining-10_HomeTeamBBQAnd of course, the requisite Fireball shots.

CharlestonDining-11_TwoBoroughsLarderA leisurely Saturday morning brunch at the charming Two Boroughs Larder was a treat.

CharlestonDining-12_TwoBoroughsLarderLove the design of this tiny space.

CharlestonDining-13_TwoBoroughsLarderFresh, delicious food and breakfast cocktails.

CharlestonDining-14_DellzJuiceI worked in hot power yoga and fresh green juice at Dellz Vibez twice during this visit. The Charleston Power Yoga is small and has a number of classes each day. The ones I attended were Baptiste in style and quick flow. Great instructors and nice people. Dellz Vibez is just a few doors down, and both are located on Upper King Street.

CharlestonDining-15_LeonsLeon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop opened in April and it was high on my list of new places to try. I love everything about restaurant design in Charleston – from well-designed logos/menus/signage to old spaces that incorporate reclaimed materials. This former paint and body shop has been transformed into a cleverly designed space with vintage and repurposed details, exposed beams, and a variety of textures and finishes. The food is as sexy as the space.

CharlestonDining-16_LeonsWe ordered all of the oysters … fresh, chargrilled, and Rockefeller — and we enjoyed them all, especially the chargrilled platter.

CharlestonDining-17_LeonsSiam slaw – napa cabbage, avocado, peanuts, orange, fried shallots, and fresh herbs … hush puppies with honey butter … fried chicken … and corn …

CharlestonDining-18_LeonsThe corn on the cob was a highlight. Brushed with mayonnaise and rolled in fried shallots, cheese, and herbs. Savory and bursting with flavor.

CharlestonDining-19_EdmundsOastNext up was a memorable late afternoon at  Edmund’s Oast, with their outstanding selection of beer and libations and charcuterie.

CharlestonDining-20_EdmundsOastWe chose to drink pink.

CharlestonDining-22_EdmundsOastAnd eat only vegetables. These fried heirloom carrots with yogurt and pistachios were my favorite.

CharlestonDining-23_EdmundsOastDessert for two. Of course, we had room for a small taste of these moist, dense brownies with Italian meringue, graham cracker crumble, and salted sorghum caramel.

CharlestonDining-21_EdmundsOastFunny dessert cocktail.

CharlestonDining-24_ProofOnMainWe spent several evenings at Proof, a chic, sexy cocktail bar on upper King Street. Owner Craig Nelson, mixologist extraordinaire, crafts impeccable cocktails, delivered with a flourish and a lesson.

CharlestonDining-25_ProofOnMainVida mezcal, Reyes ancho chile liquor, agave shrub, and a bread and butter jalapeño wrapped in orange peel.

CharlestonDining-26_ProofOnMainI’ll have to update with the description … I totally lost track as cocktail after cocktail was set in front of me. Craig?

CharlestonDining-27_ProofOnMainThe tall glasses are Reverb, Proof Gin & Tonic, a few shots of Fernet Branca, for good measure, and the remains of the previous drinks.

CharlestonDining-28_ProofOnMainMore of the gang whooping it up at Proof: Robert Strickland, Craig Nelson, Jed Portman, and Eric Doksa. Thanks, guys, for a most memorable trip!

Read more about my Charleston adventures, including an amazing meal at Husk.

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of branding, restaurant design, entertaining, and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

Memorable Meals at Husk

25 Jul

Husk exteriorA fabulous stay in Charleston was roundly celebrated with multiple dining experiences at Sean Brock’s celebrated Husk Restaurant.

Husk MenuI’ve been fortunate to have had some amazing VIP dining experiences, but never one quite like this.

“Let’s lay it on ‘em,” said Dan Latimer, Husk GM, to Travis Grimes, chef de cuisine.

“Just ‘Lay it on ‘em … ‘ or ‘make a grown man cry’ lay it on’em?” asked Travis.

Let’s go for ‘make a grown man cry.’” said Dan.

Cheerwine-compressed watermelonRoderick Weaver and Darryl Csicsila kept the libations fresh and full as the meal commenced. First course: Cheerwine-compressed watermelon, with an additional bottle of Cheerwine poured over the fruit table side. So fresh and delicious.

PeppersFresh-baked rolls topped with benne seeds and sea salt, served with lardo whipped butter. Fire-blistered Shishito peppers, watermelon “Ponzu,” bourbon-barrel soy and citrus, espelette. And chicken wings {cannot remember the details} and boiled peanuts with ham hocks and jalapeños {not shown}.

OystersFire-roasted Sewansecott oysters with herbed chicken “butter” and spicy pepper mash.

Benne Seed Crackers with pimiento cheeseWe toasted with Tennessee pimento cheese with crispy Benton’s country ham, pickled relish and HUSK benne crackers. So good.

Chilled Corn SoupChilled sweet corn soup, basil marinated shrimp, spring onion and pepper relish, chanterelle mushrooms, and crème fraîche was a standout.

John Lewis and Robert SierraJohn Lewis, pitmaster of La Barbecue in Austin, and Robert Sierra. Really special to share the meal with these two.

Pork Rinds and Compressed Beef TendonFresh, crispy pork rinds dusted with Cheeto powder. Sheets of beef tendon sous vide, cut into sheets and compressed, then fried and tossed with malt vinegar and beer powder.

Crispy Pig Skin Lettuce WrapsSignature dish: Kentuckyaki pig’s ear lettuce wraps with sweet vinegarr, marinated cucumbers and onions, cilantro, and benne.

Arugula salad with peaches and blackberriesEveryone ordered an entree, in addition to the march of dishes that kept streaming from the kitchen. I opted for this fresh arugula, South Carolina peaches and summer berries, South Carolina chèvre with candied pecans, and honey vinaigrette.

Husk Salmon EntréeOne of the entreés:  Atlantic snapper, summer squash and zucchini, Japanese eggplant with sweet onion, and shrimp “bisque.”

Husk Side DishesThe vegetables are one of my favorite things about Husk. Here we have kale chips, compressed melon with Shiso honey, house made ricotta and Surryano ham, the freshest sliced heirloom tomatoes, goat’s milk feta, pickled garlic, Texas olive oil, bourbon smoked salt, Jackson Wonder butterbeans with preserved tomatoes and scallions, and, barely visible in the upper corner, Carolina gold rice with sausage. And a skillet of cornbread with Allan Benton’s Tennessee Bacon So, so good.

Apparently there were three more courses planned, but they could see that we could not even begin to finish the entrees.

Two DessertsThere is, however, always room for a little dessert. Buttermilk chess pie with blackberry sauce and candied zest, and a fresh peach turnover with bourbon anglaise and peach sherbet. Served with seven forks.

Mission accomplished, Dan and Travis. Wow.

Group on the porch at HuskRobert Sierra, Robert Lerma, and John Lewis, in repose on the porch after supper.

Group ShotRobert Donovan {with the camera}, Robert Strickland, Eric Doksa, and me. Cocktails in the bar before heading out to the Blind Tiger.

Charleston church steeple at nightA moonlight stroll along Meeting Street in the Holy City was the perfect end to the evening. This intersection, at Meeting and Broad Streets, is known as the Four Corners of Law, with St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, a United States Post Office, Federal Courthouse, and county courthouse at each corner, representing federal, state, local and ecclesiastical law.

Country ham served on a barrel staveSunday night, after the barbecue event, a few of us headed back to the bar, housed in the historic brick building next to the restaurant. We were greeted with a barrel stave loaded with salty pieces of freshly sliced Edwards Virginia ham.

Cheese PlateWe toasted the success of the day with prosecco while enjoying this beautiful platter of cheese, fruit and nuts.

Husk CheeseburgerAnd we split a delicious cheeseburger.

CheeseburgerOn Monday, after a morning of meetings and real estating, we relaxed on the porch with a burger and rosé. And another go at that peach turnover.

Peach TurnoverThe porch is really a magical place to dine. Fresh air, a little sultry, so relaxing. I was amused as I listened to at least five carriage tours passing by on the street below, each giving a different {and sometimes slightly erroneous} description of Husk and Sean Brock. Note to Melany Mullens – you might consider giving those companies a script!

Heartfelt gratitude to Dan Latimer, Travis Grimes, Roderick Weaver, Darryl Csicsila, Sean Brock, Eric Doksa, and Robert Donovan for engineering such a memorable evening. It was one for the books, indeed. And thanks to the the Husk crew for repeated warm welcomes throughout my stay. I’m already planning my return.

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

Whole Hog Catering from the 1-7

24 Jul

WholeHogCateringHere are the details for whole hog catering from 17th Street. We’ve taken this show on the road all over the midwest and even to New York City. Book your event today. We’d love to help you go whole hog!

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

April OnCue

23 Jul

AprilOnCue-GroupHere’s a little sneak peek behind the scenes of our April Business of Barbecue™ class. We produce this sold-out class each April.
AprilOnCue-BreakfastOur catering director, Becky Streuter, sets the stage with beautifully arranged displays and lots of delicious food.

AprilOnCue-BuffetFrom serving the meals to mingling with the participants and answering questions, it’s an all-hands-on-deck affair with several 1-7 pit crew members helping out.

AprilOnCue-ChixAndRibs1We focus on prepping and cooking ribs, chicken, brisket, and pork, with an emphasis on cooking and holding for restaurant production.

AprilOnCue-PorkSteakOur pork steaks are one of our most popular menu items and one of the favorite meats we prep and cook during the class.

AprilOnCue-SmokerWe spend a great deal of time gathered around the pits, talking wood, timing, and the mechanics of our Ole Hickory Pits.

AprilOnCue-DessertsOur kitchen crew is always feeding us delicious treats during the class. These mason jar strawberry cheesecakes and banana puddings were awesome.

AprilOnCue-MarketingIn addition to food prep, we discuss a variety of business topics including branding, marketing, PR, vending, and financials.

AprilOnCue-NotesClass notes are like GOLD.

AprilOnCue-ChixAndRibs2Of course, there is a lot of sampling. Pacing is key!

We’re proud to have incubated dozens of new barbecue restaurants around the world and to have worked with existing pitmasters who want fresh ideas and an opportunity to see behind the scenes at 17th Street.

We’ll be conducting a Catering Master Class in November, the Whole Hog Extravaganza/Brisket Bonanza/BBQ MBA in January 2015, and Business of Barbecue in April 2015. Please be in touch if you’d like to register.

Our major OnCue class sponsor is Townsend Spice & Supply, blenders of our famous Magic Dust dry rub. They blend spices for many of the top barbecue restaurants, as well as other restaurants in the country, and we use their fresh, high-quality kitchen spices as well. Please consider them for all of your spice needs! We are grateful for their continued financial support of our events.

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

The One-7: Sam Jones

18 Jul

Sam Jones at the Whole Hog Extravaganza produced by OnCue Consulting.

The One-7 features our friends, partners, and people whom we admire, and provides a little insight into their worlds.

1. Travel destination: Nashville, TN.
2. Best gift received: A trophy given by Ayden Fire-Rescue, where I serve as a volunteer, following a triple fatality in a residential fire. Two of the victims were children whose parents I knew. It reminds me why I joined the fire service.
3. I admire: Many people. Some personally, some professionally, and some for what they give back. My Father and Grandfather are probably the two that stand out.
4. BBQ Joint I’d like to visit: Louie Mueller Barbecue
5. Word I live by: Integrity
6. Favorite meal besides BBQ: My Mother’s country-style steak, mashed potatoes, mac ‘n’ cheese, and her perfect homemade biscuits, with biscuit pudding for desert. This would be my request if I were going to the electric chair!
7. Drink of choice: Ice-cold Cheerwine has been my favorite drink since I was a child.

Photo © Ken Goodman Photography

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

Mail-Order Barbecue in the Wall Street Journal

9 Jul


Our mail-order barbecue was featured in the Wall Street Journal over Memorial Day Weekend, and we’ve been busy shipping all over the country! Our thoughtful customers are stocking their own freezer, as well as sending barbecue to friends, to their vacation homes, for hostess gifts and family reunions, as a comforting sympathy gesture, and more.

Click here to order or call Samantha in our office at 618-684-8902 during business hours. Please note that we ship food Monday through Thursday. For special requests and Saturday delivery, please give us a call!


TheFeastThanks again to the Wall Street Journal for featuring us!

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

Tammy Movie: Ain’t no thang …

5 Jul

Last summer, we got a call from the wardrobe director for the movie TAMMY, starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, and Kathy Bates. The movie is produced by Ben Falcone, Melissa’s husband. Melissa and Ben have several ties to Southern Illinois – see the fun facts and links at the end of this post.

The wardrobe director came across our website while researching and she loved the photo {above} of some of our t-shirts hanging above the bar. She wanted to consider one for Melissa’s character, Tammy, to wear during the movie. We sent one of each of our shirts and baseball caps for review, and they ended up ordering three different shirts in specific colors. We had no idea if any would make it into the movie.

Fast forward to this past February. I glanced at my phone and there were multiple missed calls and a message from a California number. Before I could even return the call, the phone rang again. It was from a production editor in Burbank who said, “Hello … this might sound a bit strange, but I’m sitting in an editing bay, working on a trailer for a new movie called TAMMY. Have you heard of it? Melissa McCarthy is wearing one of your t-shirts. It’s awesome and I need one!”

He described the shirt. It’s one that the fabulously talented Matt Price, from Arthur Agency, designed for our staff to wear at a wingfest. We didn’t have any left and never even offered them for sale.

“You’d better order some,” the guy said. “They are gonna sell!”

I kept searching for a trailer of the show where she’s wearing the shirt, but all of the trailers show her wearing a t-shirt with a bear and the word “Mahalo.” An extended trailer was released at the end of June. But still no t-shirt.

The movie opened July 2 and, sure enough, there are several nods to Southern Illinois. Those who live in Murphysboro will notice that the street on which she lives looks very much like it could be Pine Street or Elm Street, with the Craftsman-style bungalows so prevalent in Murphysboro. As Tammy and her grandmother, Susan Sarandon, leave town, it looks as though they’re driving over the bridge on Old Route 13, over the Big Muddy River. There’s a flash of a sign that says “Leaving Murphysboro.”

In the scene depicting a fictitious barbecue restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, there’s a bottle of Blueberry Blonde, by Big Muddy Brewing, on one of the tables. And in a motel scene, there it is: Tammy, wearing our shirt.


We’ve already received so many inquiries and Silkworm, producer of all of our apparel, is printing more now. You can order them by clicking here. They’ll ship the week of 7/14/2014 and they will also be available in the restaurants.

Thanks so much, Melissa, Ben, and the TAMMY production crew! Love the nod to Southern Illinois and to your roots. This is huge for our restaurant and for our town. We are grateful!

Fun facts:
• The show was filmed in and around Wilmington, North Carolina. Many movies and television shows are filmed in that area.
• Ben Falcone is from Carbondale and his parents traveled to Los Angeles for the TAMMY premiere.
• Melissa McCarthy attended Southern Illinois University for one semester; Ben graduated from the University of Illinois.
• Melissa is from Plainfield, Illinois. While she and Ben both have Illinois roots, they actually met at Groundlings, the legendary LA performing group. Read more about them in this article.

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

Now Casting!

1 Jul

FilmingInProgressWould you like to appear on our new show and learn about the Business of Barbecue™ from Mike, Amy, and the 1-7 crew? We’re looking for all kinds of people – from starry-eyed dreamers and chefs who’d like to learn about smoke to couples starting a business together and seasoned professionals looking for a few new tips and tricks. Email amy at 17bbq dot come and tell us about yourself and why you’d like to be part of the fun. The show will be filmed in Murphysboro and you must be available for several days at the end of July. We can promise a ton of fun and lots of learning!

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too! 

BBQ Pit Wars: Kingsford Invitational

21 Jun

BBQ Pit Wars: Kingsford Invitational is airing on Destination America June 21 from 10-11 p.m. ET. The cast and crew will be live tweeting during the broadcast; tweet along with us, using the #BestInBBQ hashtag.

Intrepid We filmed this show back on Veteran’s Day weekend aboard the USS Intrepid, a majestic and patriotic setting. During a break, we watched the USS New York dock; quite an emotional sight.

WinnerPart of the Kingsford festivities included recognition for the Folds of Honor organization. This organization provides scholarships and other types of assistance to families of those killed in action.


IntrepidVisitor Shannon McGovern from Current masterfully organized this event, along with help from the outstanding Current team.


CoolerAndGrill The all-star line-up of barbecue teams were: Cool Smoke, Sweet Swine o’ Mine, Pork and Mindy, Queology, 3Eyz, Pellet EnvyAcross the Track, and Iowa Smokey D’s.

GroupI was honored to be a judge, alongside Brad Orrison, Douglas Rodriguez, Melissa Cookston, and Ed Mitchell …

ChrisLilly … and Chris Lilly masterfully hosted the show.

JudingJudging is serious business, with a $50,000 winner-take-all prize on the line.

GrillsSPOILER ALERT:  Custom star-spangled grills were used for the One-Bite Challenge …

BigCheck… won by Tuffy Stone  with his perfectly seasoned and cooked steak.

OverallsTHE Pitmaster Ed Mitchell showing off his singular style.

BradOrrisonBrad Orrison and his million-dollar smile.

WholeHogSweet Swine O’ Mine’s whole hog smoking away.

CoolSmokeTuffy Stone giving his Jambo a good polish.

PigHeadMark Lambert pulling some cheek meat.

FilmingPork and Mindy working the sound bites.

TurnInIt was a pretty brisk November day, so teams hurriedly turned in their entries so the food would stay as hot as possible.

ListeningForGoodNewsShiggin’. Mark Lambert listens intently as the judges discuss the Sweet Swine O’ Mine entry.

Tune in tonight on Destination America at 10 p.m. ET to see who’s crowned the Grand Champion!

Photos © Virginia Devlin of Current

Happy Father’s Day!

15 Jun

Amy Mills and Mike Mills walking to the "rib-bon" cutting ceremony kicking off the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. I’ve been writing about the Mike Mills quips, lessons, and adages as I’ve been working on our new book. Here’s a sneak peek:

“I’m listening more carefully and trying to make sure my own children are absorbing the lessons he taught me: People are people. There’s no one better than you, and you are no better than anyone else. Be careful how you act, someone is always watching. No matter how well you do, you still have to play in the same sandbox with all of the same people. You can’t soar with the eagles if you’re out hootin’ with the owls all night. It’s easier to change the flavor of a hick’ry nut than to change the flavor of bologna. And life is most definitely too short for a half-rack. That, you can interpret any way you want.” 

Happy Father’s Day to all of the incredible men whom I’m blessed to call my friends. Love you, Daddy!

 Photo © Ken Goodman Photography 

Follow our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
See lots of entertaining and barbecue ideas on our Pinterest boards.
And we post fun things on Facebook, too!