King of the Grill

Dads love to barbecue, that’s no secret. There is something satisfying and primitive about cooking in the outdoors, turning out that perfectly charred, tender cut of meat from the grill. And now there’s another option that could end with a diploma in grill prowess: Over Father’s Day weekend, Montage Palmetto Bluff is holding Barbecue University.

Barbecue University was developed from the PBS show of the same name, hosted by Steven Raichlen. He’s a master of his craft, a fact that is obvious in all four of his enormously popular television shows, “Project Fire,” “Project Smoke,” “Primal Grill” and “Barbecue University.” His accomplishments don’t stop with his television appearances. Raichlen has written 31 books that have netted five James Beard Awards and three International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Julia Child Awards. The books are bestsellers, translated into 17 languages. They include the essential manual How to Grill, which was launched by an appearance on “Oprah,” selling 2 million copies. Raichlen saw instant success after the debut.

“It was like being shot out of a cannon,” he says.

Barbecue expert Steven Raichlen

His popularity as a barbecue guru hasn’t wavered, with an induction into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2015. Raichlen started bringing his expertise and par- ticipation-driven instruction to resorts in Colorado and West Virginia, but has partnered with Montage Palmetto Bluff to make it Barbecue University’s new home. He’s excited to explore Southern coastal cuisine by way of the grill. “The Carolina Lowcountry has an indigenous cuisine,” he says. “I’m looking forward to it, both for me and for my students.”

The inaugural session, currently scheduled on Father’s Day weekend, makes use of Cole’s restaurant, which is set amid sweeping marsh views. Resort Executive Chef Nathan Beriau leaves the set up to Raichlen. “He brings in the grills and we set them up,” Beriau says. “We are hop-ing that this program helps to validate us as a major player in the barbecue game.” Beriau will work with Cole’s Chef de Cuisine Jason Leotis to serve breakfast and lunch for the class participants. Though the menu hasn’t been set, the theme is obvious to Beriau. “No menus have been developed yet, but you can guarantee that barbecue will be weaved into it,” he says.

Montage Palmetto Bluff Executive Chef Nathan Beriau

The class itself covers every aspect of outdoor cooking. The first night will be an authentic oyster roast with fresh, salty local oysters pulled from the May River. The next morning, the school brings about 30 grills and smokers for attendees and class begins. Beriau hits all the skill sets needed to master the art of the grill.

“When I plan my menu, it’s very much the pedagogy in mind, the body of knowledge that I want to teach,” he says. “That includes all the major proteins and the five methods of live cooking. I want people to have experience cooking on a gas grill, wood-fired grill, charcoal grill and smoker. I want them to learn to make appetizers, salads, main courses, vegetables and desserts.”

A display of barbecue items from Montage Palmetto Bluff Executive Chef Nathan Beriau.

Indeed, the comprehensive menu seems to run the gamut of barbecuing. Guests will make Jamaican jerk-style bacon, pastrami short ribs, Lowcountry porchetta, wood- fired paella, whole rotisserie strip loin and the impressive display of hanging chicken, cooked on a string over a wood fire. There is even a grilled dessert, a pineapple volcano, with the fruit spit-roasted and blowtorched to form a caramelized crust. It’s then stood upright and filled with 151-rum and served blazing with smoked ice cream.

At the end of the three days of classes, Barbecue University’s participants work on a written and oral final exam to earn their “diploma” and graduate, all in good fun. Each person will feel proficient in grilling, able to impress dinner guests with their newly learned skills. Food Network rated Barbecue University the best barbecue experience in the United States and Montage knows its guests will agree.

By Jessica Farthing