Friday, April 2, 2010

Quick Pizzas and info on BBQ Classes

Last night was the first night of a three day weekend and a gorgeous Spring evening, so we made some pizzas outside on the Big Green Egg.

I've often said that my Egg is not only a smoker and grill, but also a wood fired oven. That is possible thanks to this critter known as a "plate setter".

As you can see, it is a ceramic piece with three legs that can be inserted into the Egg either "legs up" or in this case "legs down". "Legs up" is a set up for indirect cooking and it lets you insert a drip pan and standard cooking grate.

"Legs down" turns your Egg into more of a convection oven. The heat from your natural wood coal fire down below rushes up through the three gaps. There it hits the curved top of the Egg at the edges and reflect inwards, creating a circular current of hot air. Instead of using a grill grate, I just put my preheated pizza stone directly on the plate setter like this.

This one was simply our standard sauce, mozzarella, red onion, yellow bell pepper, baby bella mushrooms, and mini pepperonis.
I swear there is something special about pizzas cooked like this that you can't capture in an oven. Fire roasted pizza joints are popping up everywhere in Knoxville. I just use the one on my deck.

BBQ Boot Camp
The Bloomin' BBQ & Bluegrass Festival is a great event held in Sevierville, TN in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains each Spring. In addition to the BBQ contest, they will be having a BBQ Bootcamp for those wanting to learn from the best.

Mike Davis of the Lotta Bull competitive BBQ team is a real champ. You may have seen him win the BBQ Championship series on the Versus channel a few years ago. He has also won the American Royal Invitational (2006), the big daddy of them all. I met Mike the following year at then 2007 Tennessee State BBQ Championship, which he also won.

Mike will be teaching two of the three courses. If you have ever priced BBQ classes, you know this is a bargain! Here's the text from the festival website:

What better way to kick off a BBQ Vacation than to attend the all new BBQ Boot Camp presented by Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass? Learn BBQ techniques from world champion Mike Davis (Lotta Bull BBQ – Marietta, OK) and sweeten it up with a Pastries & Desserts class taught by Chef Catherine Hallman. All classes will be hands-on and eat-what-you-make so come ready to cook and maybe just a little bit hungry.

BBQ Boot Camp can pick and choose which classes they want to take for only $50 each or take all three for only $125! Supplies and meats are included. Each class takes place between 5:30-9:30pm so there’s plenty of time to check out the great attractions, shopping and dining in the area during the day. Also, special room rates will be available for BBQ Boot Camp attendees.

BBQ Boot Camp classes will be taught at the Rel Maples Institute for Culinary Arts at Walters State Community College in Sevierville, TN. This new facility offers state-of-the-art kitchen facilities rivaling major cooking schools nationwide.

May 11
Spices, Rubs & Sauces ($50) –
Instructor World Champion BBQ Cooker Mike Davis

May 12
Advanced BBQ Smoking – using The Big Green Egg ($50)
Instructor World Champion BBQ Cooker Mike Davis

May 13
Pastries & Desserts ($50) –
Instructor Chef Catherine Hallman

Did you notice he'll be using the Big Green Egg? I'm signing up today. Here's the sign up form if you're interested.

Have you ever taken any cooking classes like this and if so, how did you like it?


  1. Nothing like that, but Southern Living used to do these cooking schools that were pretty cool. I don't think they do them anymore at all, but if they do they don't come down here to the coast. I think Taste of Home does something similar, but again, they don't come here.

    This sounds like an interesting event! I'd be afraid to go to anything BBQ related though because some enthusiasts can be a bit, well downright snobby about grilling and what way is the only "right" way. I don't think that about any way of cooking and not even grilling! As you may remember, I am a "gas grill" gal!

    I love wood fired pizza - if this is anything like that, I know it's gotta be good. Looks mighty fine!

  2. I love grilled pizza and yours is making my mouth water. I have a recipe for one in my head for when things settle down around here. I may try to go to the BBQ class as that's about 10% of what these guys normally charge. Thanks for the info.

  3. How cool Chris, I look forward to being informed, and a slice of pizza in the mail!

  4. That's the most beautiful pizza I've ever seen. For real.

  5. That's the most beautiful pizza I've ever seen.

  6. That's the most beautiful pizza I've ever seen.

  7. Neat opportunity! I went through KCBS to learn to judge, but no techniques were given...

  8. That egg is amazing, next you'll be cooking up an omelet on that thing. Pizza looks great! Denver has it's share of wood fire pizza places. I really think it produces superior pies.

  9. The bbq classes sound fun. The pizza looks killer - I wish I could cook mine like you do, the green egg is a wonderful thing to have.

  10. That pizza looks good! I've never taken any courses like that but I have taken lots of food safety courses..ServSafe 10 years running. I think it's important to know how to NOT kill someone lol I'm excited for you getting to take the BBQ class! I hope you and your family have a wonderful and happy Easter Chris!

  11. I heard a commercial on a Knoxville radio station for the Big Green Egg... I thought of you! LOL

  12. Wow - that pizza looks amazing! I've had pizza on the grill, but not over wood fire. I can only imagine how delicious that tastes. Have fun on your BBQ vacation!

  13. I have only tried grilled pizza once, and I made a horrible mess of it. Need to try again.

  14. Awesome! The last cooking classes I took were in a class called home Ec in 10th grade (yes, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth ;-) I think I learned how to make an omelet and that was it. I also learned how to use a sewing machine - after sewing my finger I gave that up for life, LOL! Thank goodness I didn't burn myself making the omelet!
    Have a great weekend Chris and Happy Easter to you and your family :-)

  15. Proving once again....I need an Egg.

  16. You're right - there is just some a little extra special about pizza on the grill! This looks terrific. I wish I was close enough to sign-up for those classes too!

  17. Those prices are a bargain!

    I have such egg envy... considering a bubba keg, but just can't justify the egg price with all the toys I already have.

    There is an outdoor bar down here that always has three eggs going at a time... just chicken (only food they serve). they set up fans to blow the odor towards the cruise ships

  18. That green egg is the best multi-tasker I have ever seen. I wonder if it can do my anatomy homework...

    I've actually never had grilled pizza. I am seriously ashamed to say. It looks so good...I've just never been able to convince my dad to let me do it. And I don't have a grill of my own. One of these days...

  19. I'd so love to go to BBQ Camp, alas, it's a bit of a drive from California. I'll concentrate on getting a Big Green Egg first!

  20. that looks way too yummy! I really wish I can cook like you one day! You really have the patient to cook!! I'm new at blogging. I've added you on my blogroll. when u have the time, add me on yours! ;) happy easter!

    Jen from

  21. The bbq camp sounds like a lot of fun, especially in such a gorgeous location.
    The wood-fired pizza looks terrific. I bet the crust has just the right crunch to it.


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