Adam Perry Lang’s Serious Barbecue: Handmade the hard way
Adam Perry Lang is a chef who is passionate about barbecue. In some ways, his approach is simple. He uses a rub of salt, pepper, garlic salt, and cayenne. But this is where simple ends. He also puts his time and energy into crafting his own knives, selecting the perfect whisky for his homemade sauces, designing a custom pit, commissioning a coal generator to create his own charcoal, and designing a bar and lounge for his guests. And because of all of this attention to detail, you can taste the difference in his work.
This summer, Lang realized his dream of creating the ultimate barbecue experience by bringing a slice of country to an urban L.A. setting. To do this, he set out on an epic journey across the United States, collaborating with his friends who shared a similar approach to handcrafting superior products. Lang explains, "People doing things with care and intention, I think that is one of the greatest things in life that enhances beauty."
In this video, Lang starts in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., for some lessons with his steel mentor on forging steel and handcrafting knives. Then he heads south to the George Dickel distillery in Tullahoma, Tenn. to taste various whiskys to pair with his barbecue and include in his sauces. Finally, he heads west to Los Angeles, where he collaborates with his friends to create the ultimate back lot barbecue behind the set of Jimmy Kimmel’s show.
One of Lang’s primary motivations is feeding people, and to that end, twenty-five percent of the food he makes is donated to Los Angeles homeless shelters.
- Be sure to check back each week on the official George Dickel YouTube Channel for more videos capturing Adam’s adventure in American craftsmanship.
- Watch Adam give the Jimmy Kimmel Live! audience a few barbecue pointers in the back lot.
- For the latest Back Lot BBQ lunch menu (you have until September 5!) and take-out, as well as to order a copy of Adam's book Serious Barbecue, visit adamperrylang.com.
My name is Adam Perry Lang, and I'm a chef who loves to cook barbecue.
My passion for barbecue started when I was pretty young. It always seemed like it was the man's job in my house to do. I realized that there's something so much more than just turning the stove on. I wanted to engage in the process of heating up that stove, naturally, and then figuring out a way of harnessing it and working with it.
There's a connectivity that I love so much about cooking with fire and cooking in a natural element.
The descriptors on this thing are really, really not sexy at all. I mean, we're talking about I burn wood to make charcoal. Then I turn around and say, "Whoa, what's in your spice rub?" Okay, it's salt, pepper, garlic salt, and cayenne. And they say, "Oh, well why do I have to burn the wood separately and then drag it across the thing?" Well, it makes such a huge difference, and ultimately you taste it.
There are some things that are fantastic to do in 20 minutes. Other things are best to be preserved separately.
Quite frankly, I just love everything craft. People doing things with care and intention, I think that is one of the greatest things in life that enhances beauty. It was just a dream of mine to create something that no one's done before, and that's create a slice of country in the middle of an urban center and to create the best, most authentic barbecue that I knew how to do.
So I decided to do this journey this summer and explore different craft things in my life. Who is like-minded around me, that could really get with the program? And that's how I got with my steel mentor, Rick, at the Door County Forge up in Wisconsin, to make beautiful Damascus steel and then hand craft the knife.
And then also, George Dickel, I'm going to go to the distillery and get to meet and work with those guys. When I think barbecue, I think whiskey. It's my go-to drink. It just matches up well. For me, it's a similar philosophy that lies with George Dickel, and that's "handmade the hard way," which is their tag line. It's so cool that someone is doing it the way George Dickel is. I mean, because in terms of putting their time, energy, and passion into something, for me it's the essence. Look, when you've got a great recipe, you don't mess with it. For me, that rings home.
And then, finally, we're going to do this outrageous back lot barbecue at Jimmy Kimmel back lot. I bought a 45 foot flatbed trailer and had this fantastic company in Texas build me a custom pit, which we designed together. Then I had my friend, Nicole, build me a coal generator to actually make my own charcoal.
We've got a small, little metal forging shop, Big Green Eggs, which I intend to teach people how to cook on. My friend Jimmy Durress had built the most incredible bar. It really enhanced the whole barbecue experience. And we also have this amazing VIP lounge, which we are going to entertain anybody who wants to come. We've got everything.
What I really wanted to do is a couple of things with it. First and foremost, I wanted just to introduce myself to Los Angeles, and I wanted to feed people, not only people that pay, but also we're feeding the homeless shelters. Twenty-five percent of everything that we're cooking is getting distributed to a different shelter around town.
And you know what? If nobody showed up, no matter what, anything above 25%,
someone's going to be fed. I'm going to put on, to me, the ultimate barbecue feast. It's also a big thank you to a lot of the people that helped me actually put this amazing project together. It's definitely the cherry on top, where friends, family, and workers come together and just have a great time.
What I've done here is very much American craftsmanship. Putting in all the extra effort and doing it myself, it just makes it that much more meaningful. You also get a tremendous benefit of interacting with people that are working hard alongside you, and you develop a bond with it.
I'm so proud of what we accomplished here, because we had to pull together so many elements, but just to see it function and work the way it is, I'm blown away.