Category / Television


The Best Barbecue Shows on Food Network

This July is turning out to be a great time to tune in and enjoy some of the best barbecue shows on Food Network and Cooking Channel.

On July 15th The Food Network began airing the second season of Chef Michael Symon’s BBQ USA. If you tune in this coming August 14th you can catch Amy Mills in Episode 7, Legends in Queens, filmed at Pig Beach in Queens, NY this past April.

The Food Network also recently began airing the fourth season of Bobby Flay’s BBQ Brawl. You may remember having seen Amy, alongside fellow judges Moe Cason and Chris Lilly, in the first season of this fun competition show, and you can read about her experience here.

Now in its fourth season, The Cooking Channel’s Firemasters, with host Dylan Benoit, began airing a couple of weeks ago. The show pits pitmasters/chefs against one another and culminates in a battle against one of the show’s judges to win a cash prize and the title of Firemaster. If you watched Seasons 1 and 2 you may have seen Amy Mills as a judge (and competitor!) in several episodes. You can read here about her experience filming the show in Canada.


Food Network’s BBQ Brawl – Behind the Scenes, Part 1

Back in February, I traveled to Austin, along with a powerhouse group of pitmasters, to film a new series for Food Network called “BBQ Brawl.” This trip was under the radar, as most filming projects require a non-disclosure agreement. We’ve all been excited about the show, and now we can talk about it!

I’m going to do a series of behind-the-scene posts about the production so as not to give anything away before the final episode is aired. 

The show was filmed in a fairy-tale setting outside Austin called Star Hill Ranch. You can actually rent this entire place for weddings and events. Modeled after a typical, old-time Texas Hill Country community, there’s a main street, dotted with little houses and shops, each with charming period interiors. The crew built an intricate, rustic set with grilling stations, a judging counter, and a pantry. While the sun was bright, the weather was quite chilly. 

Produced by Bobby Flay’s production company, Rock Shrimp Productions, this show offers some new competition twists. Bobby and his BFF, Michael Symon, are team captains who each choose four people for their team. 

Each show starts off with a challenge between Michael and Bobby, and the winner each day earns advantages for his team. Having a ringside seat to watch these two masterful chefs compete each day was a thrill and a huge learning opportunity. Their clever use of ingredients, expertise in layering of flavors, and the high level of skill they display is awe-inspiring. 

My fellow judges on this show are Chris Lilly and Moe Cason. We’ve done a number of shows together, and I think that shows in our easy camaraderie and clear mutual affection, admiration, and respect. The competitors were top-notch, and they were at peak performance during each challenge. Lots of top names in barbecue competed for the grand prize: Phil Johnson, Carey Bringle, Tuffy Stone, Joe Pearce, LeeAnn Whippen, Susie Bulloch, Kevin Bludso, and Lynnae Oxley-Loupe. Sometimes our judging panel agreed on a dish; sometimes we did not, which, of course, makes for great television. 

Being on set is a lot like summer camp, and you become quite friendly with the crew. This group took excellent care of us. We had our own little house for hair and make-up, wardrobing, and just hanging out between takes. Between the three of us, we knew most of the competitors, but we were segregated, and not allowed to talk to them.

Our wrangler, Dahlia, was a doll, and she was so great about attending to and anticipating our every need.

There’s constant touching up, wardrobe checks, taping clothing, and figuring out how to deal with the elements. 

There’s often downtime in a production of this magnitude, and we spent most of that time attending to our businesses via computer, and playing many rounds of Cards Against Humanity. 

Check back next week for a look behind the scenes of episode two.