By: Liz Bruckner
Ask Steven Raichlen, world-renowned grilling and smoking authority, the keys to his career longevity, and he shortlists two contributing factors: passion and zeal.
A French literature major in college, the bestselling author and host of Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke; Primal Grill and Le Maitre Du Grill, won a Thomas J Watson Foundation Fellowship award upon graduation. This lead to more study of medieval cooking in Europe, and eventually opened the door for his vocation of choice: food writer.
“What made cooking interesting then and makes it interesting now is the way food (or my approach to it, at least) embodies the intersection of culture, history and cooking. The best job I ever had is the one I’ve done for 30 years, which as a writer, involves all the things I love most in life: travel, history, art, anthropology, and, of course, cooking and eating.”
His most recent undertaking—a book called Project Smoke, which focuses exclusively on the art of smoking foods—combines all of the above. “I’ve touched on smoking in all my books, but I’ve never focused on it as a cooking method. People from elsewhere in the world smoke everything from eggs to vegetables to cocktails to desserts, and I wanted to teach and encourage people to explore smoked foods that aren’t barbecue.”
In fact, it’s exactly this kind of teacher-and-explorer approach that Raichlen credits with his long-term success. “I love researching—discovering new places, grill cultures, restaurants, grilling and smoking techniques… being passionate about what you do is integral to any calling, as is approaching your topic with a voice and outlook that’s distinctly your own.“
Read on for some great recipes from Steve Raichlen’s Project Smoke.
Recipes excerpted from Project Smoke by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing). Copyright ©2016. Photographs by Matthew Benson.