‘Man Fire Food’ show returns for second season
On Roger Mooking’s Cooking Channel series, “Man Fire Food,” which returns for its second season on June 3 at 9:30 p.m., the Canadian host celebrates the ancient and modern art of cooking over flames. “Who doesn’t like a fire? It’s primal,” Mooking says during a break filming in Great Barrington. “If I start a fire in the backyard, man, before I know it my neighbor’s showed up with a stick and marshmallows, somebody else is showing up with something else, there’s a guitar, and a community happens. It’s great.” This season in his travels, Mooking continues to seek out locals with interesting methods of cooking. He’s also a touring musician with a new album, “Feedback,” due out July 9.
Q. How will season 2 be different from the first?
A. What we’ve done is really focused the vision of the show. After a season, you really refine and tweak things to make everything better: the stories, the food stories, the contraptions. Now we’ve got a good bit on what works and what doesn’t work from the first season and captured just those moments of what’s really powerful. I think we’ve got some better contraptions, better personalities, and better recipes.
Q. What are you looking for in Great Barrington?
A. I’ve never been in this area and there’s a certain aesthetic and style and feel. The food scene is all about local, sustainable, organic. Everybody’s just really passionate about it and looking for the dairy farmers or the meat purveyors or butchers that are supporting that and telling that story and sharing that information and knowledge. It’s really embedded in the culture here, so we’re trying to tap into that. We’ve got this guy Jeremy cooking barbecue who does this chicken spinner. I’ve seen lots of cooking contraptions but nothing like this. It looks like a broken canopy umbrella and it hangs chickens from it and spins around [to cook the meat]. I think we’re coming out here to do a clam bake as well, some lamb. So we’re going to get to see some whole animals, desserts, spinning chickens — it’s a wacky combo of things out here.
Q. What grilling tips will we pick up from the show?
A. It’s a lot of different techniques I see, different ways people are marinating meats or they’re cooking with these different types of wood. So if you’re using smoke packs at home inside your gas grill or propane grill, you can add smoke packs and find all different kinds of woods: cherry, pecan, oak, just so many. We went to Napa Valley and these guys were using old wine barrels that had gone out of service and they chopped them up. You could really smell the aroma of the red wine permeated in that oak and get that mix of oak and red wine that’s producing the smoke and it adds a very unique taste to the flavor.
Q. What have you learned filming the show these past two years?
A. I’m discovering that people are very territorial about the way they cook over fire. You go to South Carolina and you get a dry rub mixed with wet vinegar. You go to other parts of the South, in Georgia they might like barbecue sauce. You go to New England, they’re doing clam bakes. Every time they get around a fire, people are just really passionate and have all these techniques. So many times when working with recipes that have been passed down for three or four generations, the recipe has not changed a drop. Just to see that kind of love and passion for something that’s been passed down from grandparents to kids is something that I’ve found is really common ground with the show and really compelling.
Q. You’re a busy guy — chef, author, host of several TV shows, musician. How do you balance it all?
A. I feel very fortunate to turn all of my hobbies into my life, my work. Although I no longer have any hobbies, I get to live what I love every single day. I’m so motivated to get up and do it every day. For a long time, I was operating in the music world at a decent level and I was operating in the cooking world at a decent level and I felt like I was a little crazy, you know? One day I kind of had an epiphany that I was just doing entertainment. The bridge between food and music is entertainment. The logistics are different but the creative process is the same. You have a spark of an idea, you work at that idea, you refine that idea, you present that idea, and then you enjoy that idea. Once I realized that [my passions] all fell under that umbrella, everything seemed really easy to me.