Eclectic BBQ With Neal Stephenson

A longer story…

So I have a nice story here from just a few days ago… geeks will love it… Maybe other people will too… I’ve just processed the photos, and I will sprinkle four of them here below so you can join in the fun.

My plane arrived in the evening, and I went out immediately to start taking photos of the city. Just as I was getting into a groove, I received a text to come over to Neal Stephenson’s house to help build a unique steampunk BBQ Grill. To this, I cannot say no.

So I arrived and then spent about four hours with Neal, Chris Young (master chef who wrote Modernist Cuisine), Nels Peterson (paleontologist++), and a few other people to build a crazy BBQ setup. Neal has this crazy BBQ every year and they try to do something off-the-wall. For this one, instead of spinning the pig over the fire, it was decided that the fire should spin around the outside of the pig.

It was dark when I pulled up just as another car rolled in, fully laden with metal tubing, rails, brackets, and other alloyed oddments. I walked over, and Neal went through a recognition subroutine to figure out if I was a friend or enemy. I barely passed that one and then helped carry in a bunch of strange things. We went through his home out into the backyard where there was a staging area for this creation.

I honestly did not do very much other than carry things and assemble one of the racks to hang the pig. I felt that the two pigs should be in a less “Catholic” position and we should kama-sutra it up, but no one else agreed with me on this point.

But, many hours later, the creation was assembled, and we turned it on to watch the giant columns of metal begin to spin around the central base. It felt a little like a wormhole generator that would enable fully cooked pigs to come into our world.

Then, the next day, when the BBQ officially started… here is a photo of the festivities.

Daily Photo(s): Eclectic BBQ With Neal StephensonMy plane arrived in the evening, and I went out immediately to start taking photos of the city. Just as I was getting into a groove, I received a text to come over to Neal Stephenson's house to help build a unique steampunk BBQ Grill. To this, I cannot say no.So I arrived and then spent about four hours with Neal, Chris Young (master chef who wrote Modernist Cuisine), Nels Peterson (paleontologist++), and a few other people to build a crazy BBQ setup. Neal has this crazy BBQ every year and they try to do something off-the-wall. For this one, instead of spinning the pig over the fire, it was decided that the fire should spin around the outside of the pig.Many hours later, the creation was assembled, and we turned it on to watch the giant columns of metal begin to spin around the central base. It felt a little like a wormhole generator that would enable fully cooked pigs to come into our world.Then, the next day, when the BBQ officially started... here is a photo of the festivities.- Trey RatcliffRead the entire long-form blog post here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

And below is the a photo of the actual creation. You can see the pigs hanging in the middle as the fire spins around the outside. To the right is Chris Young and to the left is Neal Stephenson (who you can also see looking on in the photo above).

Eclectic BBQ With Neal StephensonMy plane arrived in the evening, and I went out immediately to start taking photos of the city. Just as I was getting into a groove, I received a text to come over to Neal Stephenson's house to help build a unique steampunk BBQ Grill. To this, I cannot say no.Here is a photo of the actual creation.  You can see the pigs hanging in the middle as the fire spins around the outside.  To the right is Chris Young and to the left is Neal Stephenson.There was something new and hypnotic while the fire spun around the pig.  I think maybe it was so foreign to our pleistocene brains. We're just not used to seeing fire spin around while the meat is still ...- Trey RatcliffRead the entire long-form blog entry here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

There was something new and hypnotic while the fire spun around the pig. It spun for over five hours and many of us just stared. It was kind of a shared experience of meta-strangeness.

I think maybe it was so foreign to our pleistocene brains. We’re just not used to seeing fire spin around while the meat is still. Or something. I don’t know.. but I’ll never forget how hypnotic the experience was…

In the photo below, Neal looks on once again…

Eclectic BBQ With Neal StephensonMy plane arrived in the evening, and I went out immediately to start taking photos of the city. Just as I was getting into a groove, I received a text to come over to Neal Stephenson's house to help build a unique steampunk BBQ Grill. To this, I cannot say no.  In this photo Neal looks on.  We were all entranced by the moving fire ...- Trey RatcliffRead the entire long-form blog post here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

And last is my friend Chris Young getting one of the columns of fire stoked. We filled these with a special kind of obsidian coal that was very tough to light but burned like a French retreat. First, Chris would use a blow torch to get it started, and then he whipped out the old leaf-blower really get the fire going.

He did this to both columns to make sure the temperature was consistent through the vertical structure before they were set into a spinning motion. And, yes, it turns out that it was not that steampunk at all, since these were spun around by a concrete mixer.

Eclectic BBQ With Neal StephensonMy plane arrived in the evening, and I went out immediately to start taking photos of the city. Just as I was getting into a groove, I received a text to come over to Neal Stephenson's house to help build a unique steampunk BBQ Grill. To this, I cannot say no. Here is my friend Chris Young getting one of the columns of fire stoked. We filled these with a special kind of obsidian coal that was very tough to light but burned like a French retreat. First, Chris would use a blow torch to get it started, and then he whipped out the old leaf-blower really get the fire going.He did this to both columns to make sure the temperature was consistent through the vertical structure before they were set into a spinning motion. - Trey RatcliffRead the entire long-form blog entry here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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  • Susan

    Looks like a great time!! How cool is that? Lovely story Trey!

  • Randy Dietmeyer

    Soooooo, when the pork was actually cooked, was there any Famous Dave’s sauce (Devils Spit preferably) present? :)

  • http://www.kelleybard.com Kelley Bard

    I like the bbq setup, but it’s the 3 part pigs that creep me out. Although they look very symetrical.
    Great images. I’d give my left foot to meet Neal Stephenson. Probably my right as well, because really, once you have lost one foot, do you need another?
    I just shot a wedding all day. Do I sound extra loopy? Headed to bed, never fear… zzz.

  • Patrick Ahles

    Sounds like you had fun! Some idea to spin the fire…

    Got a new picture up last night: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pahles/6063251168/

  • http://none louis

    I’ve seen a few BBqs in my time and strange one at that but thats a cool idea. Chris had the gear but no fire hat will have to report him to the Union for breaking rules hehe!! Nice family Pics

  • LindaC

    So…how exactly does a French retreat burn?

  • Gail in Montana

    Great photos and story, Trey. Looks like you all were having a great time!! What a neat BBQ contraption. Have a wonderful Sunday :-)

  • http://timetotakepictures.blogspot.com Keith Moyer

    What a cool bunch of friends you have! Looks like this was a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing the story.

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Trey Ratcliff

    hehe thanks all :)

  • http://open-window.typepad.com Claudia

    So how was the pork?

  • http://www.fredbeaupre.com/ fredbeaupre

    My stomach says: gargle gargle gargle! Love it and makes me want to eat my screen! Love visiting your blog every day!

    Just posted a new rural HDR photo: http://www.fredbeaupre.com/Other/HDR/12941778_evtTN#1441067476_xQcshgG. Join me on Google+ if you will at https://plus.google.com/108276017039691136956

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks!

    Claudia – it was great!

  • http://www.smith-photography.net Michael Smith

    Ha! Awesome, i’m going to have to try this!

  • http://simonmorris.me/ Simon Morris

    Great photos Trey – now that’s what I call a BBQ… looks like you all had a fab time! :-)

  • http://www.appdaptation.com Appdaptation

    Such a gathering of geekery, it thrills me to know people do such odd yet inspired activities and also a bit glum to have missed it. Pure awesomeness.

  • http://ernestduffoo.com Ernest Duffoo

    I love when you deviate from your landscapes, cheers!

  • Maggie Ioannou

    can’t believe my eyes!THAT IS AWESOME!
    You’ve taken bbq-ng to a whole new level…..

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