Smoke & Fire: Recipes And Menus For Entertaining Outdoors

Whether it’s a full-blown lobster bake on the Atlantic shores, a surf-and-turf guys’ night over a backyard open pit, or your kid’s high school tailgate with a little hardware-store hibachi, fire-cooked food will make an occasion pop even louder than the embers before you.

Paleolithic cavemen must have figured this out around 300,000 years ago, when they first placed stones in a ring around a flame. A roast in the oven is lovely, but meat dripping from a spitfire, fish perfumed with smoke, and vegetables boasting those telltale grill marks are just fun-er to chomp. This book is a tool to create those moments, a lever, a springboard. A guide for the pit master, the hostess, and the outdoor entertainer, the recipes here are simple to prepare and geared toward several types of grills, outdoor ovens— and even your indoor kitchen. In Smoke & Fire, you’ll learn how to add the aroma of wood chips to your tailgate pulled-chicken sliders; steam a lobster in the sand with coals, hot rocks, and saltwater-and-wine soaked burlap; and bake the perfect triple berry cobbler right in the coals of your campfire—all delicious fare created with smoke & fire.

The word focus is derived from the Latin for fireplace, the focal point of any home for centuries. All elements of a fire plead to our senses: the hypnotizing rhythmic dancing of flames, the aromas wafting off as honey-covered ribs turn to candy, the butter bubbling on a row of grilled corn kernels, or the crisping of a chocolate chip cookie cooked in a cast-iron skillet over a moonlit flame.

The recipes in this book are curated from the accomplished professional chefs I’m lucky to consider friends and whose recipes are credited throughout: the South’s truest gem, Julia Reed, and her friend Ryan Prewitt, from Pêche Seafood Grill in New Orleans; Food Network’s Katie Lee; the classically trained, can-do-all Tom Kukoly; big-sky Montana’s Ben Jones; pizza expert Henry Margaritis; outdoor oven guru Warren Schierenbeck; and even my comedian friend Ali Wentworth, who shared her WASP crab dip. I love to cook, but these men and women are great artists who bring this book to the level you, the culinary enthusiast, deserve. They are masters of outdoor cooking and certainly great mentors of mine. Together we created these outdoor gatherings—events that pair sizzling food and conversation among family and friends.

Please join us, and let me know how it goes at