Taking his newest book (Barbecue Sauces, Rub and Marinades—Bastes, Butter, and Glazes, Too) on the road, Steven Raichlen gives an inside look into what it’s like to catch 4 am flights and grill hop from one city to the next, meet with wonderful fans like you and take recommendations on must-try food spots and new recipes.
Q: How do you choose where you eat in a city you’re visiting? Recommendations, random choice, or reviews on the Internet?
SR: Often I call the local restaurant critic. Often, I hear from you, my readers and viewers. I keep a file on where to eat in every American city.
Q: Do you find inspiration on tour for new recipes for the next book?
SR: All the time. On this tour, I’ll be judging a barbecue festival in Evansville, Indiana, for example, and I’m sure I’ll get some great ideas there. On a recent trip to Chicago, I discovered some amazing grilled vegetables at Bad Hunter, and interesting grilled meats at El Che Bar.
Q: Which of the recipes in the your new book (Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades) has been the most popular on the book tour?
SR: People love the Smoke Wrangler’s Barbecue Sauce and the Korean Pulled Pork Shoulder. They positively swoon over the Coconut Grilled Pineapple with my Dessert Rub.
Q: What do you love most about traveling for book tour?
SR: The constant stimulation and impromptu discoveries. I was in Tulsa a few years ago, and I had an amazing visit at the Woody Guthrie Center. I’m a big art buff, and Kansas City has the Thomas Benton house, and a Caravaggio at the excellent Nelson-Atkins Museum. (And don’t miss the National World War I Museum and Memorial in KC.)
Q: How often are you recognized on the street when walking around a city? What do you like about being approached?
SR: Often enough to make me feel great, but not so often that it’s an intrusion. I love meeting my readers and viewers—they make it possible for me to have the best job in the world. If you ever see me and want to say hi, but are afraid to, don’t be. I welcome the opportunity to say hi and shake your hand.
Q: Is it difficult to be away from your grills / backyard while on tour?
SR: What’s difficult is being away from my family. I’m usually surrounded by grills when I’m on tour.
Q: When signing new books, why do you sign some with a number?
SR: Whenever I come out with a new book, I number the first 15 copies I sign. It’s always a thrill to autograph a new book and I like to honor that thrill with a number.
Q: On average, what time do you set your alarm on your phone? What is the earliest you’ve ever had to wake up to travel to an event?
SR: When I was on tour for Project Smoke, I would often wake at 4:00 a.m. to catch a 5:30 a.m. flight to the next city to be in time for morning television. Sometimes I wouldn’t get to my hotel until 1 a.m., so these were pretty short nights.