Reading: Fresh off the Boat

EddieHuang_BookCoverThank you, Eddie Huang, for sending me a copy of Fresh off the Boat.

I met Eddie and his charming girlfriend last fall at the Southern Foodways Alliance symposium. He spoke about his unconventional life experiences within an immigrant family and the barbecue he ate and made while growing up in Florida and during his early years in Manhattan. We spent time gathered around Pat Martin’s pit and shared swigs of whiskey and stories about Sonny’s Bar-B-Q. His childhood, family life, and the experiences that formed his perspective and persona are fascinating.

Eddie Huang and Pat Martin

Pat Martin and Eddie Huang


I’ve always felt my group of friends is fairly diverse, but until now I didn’t know anyone whose formative years were quite like this. The anchor of his story and our common language is, of course, food.

One of my favorite passages:

“I realized that day, it’s the simple things in life. It’s not about a twelve-course tasting of unfamiliar ingredients or mass-produced water-added rib-chicken genetically modified monstrosity of meat that makes me feel alive. It’s getting a bowl of food that doesn’t have an agenda. The ingredients are the ingredients because they work and nothing more. These noodles were transcendent not because he used the best produce or protein or because it was locally sourced, but because he worked his dish. You can’t buy a championship.”

If you’re interested in food and how it informs much of who we are, you’ll want to read this book. Order your copy here.


The One-7: Chris Lilly

Chopping pork at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. Photo by Ken Goodman

Chopping pork at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. Photo by Ken Goodman

Chris is a respected restaurateur, fierce competitor, and cherished friend. We’re fortunate to spend time with him and the McLemore/extended Big Bob Gibson family at a number of events each year. Mike will tell you that no Memphis in May is complete without a slice of that famous Big Bob Gibson pie. I was on the team of finals judges who awarded Chris his third World Grand Champion title at Memphis in May in 2011, enabling him to join the ranks of Apple City Barbecue and Jack’s Old South in the exclusive three-time Memphis in May World Grand Champion club. Here’s Chris’s take on the One-7:

1. Travel destination: Rocky Mountains

2. Favorite cut of meat to cook: Ribs {pork, beef, lamb}

3. Favorite pie: Chocolate Pecan

4. Best gift received: My children

5. Hero: My father

6. BBQ joint I’d like to visit: any jerk shack in Jamaica

7. Words I live by: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~Albert Einstein

Visit Chris at Big Bob Gibson in Decatur, Alabama and add his book to your collection. He’s also featured in Peace, Love, and Barbecue. You can see Chris on a number of shows about barbecue including the Kingsford Invitational {of which he was the host} and BBQ Pitmasters.

The One-7 spotlights barbecue luminaries and gives a little insight into their worlds.