Matt Lang - The Winner of Food Networks' Best in Smoke | Grilling with Rich Matt Lang - The Winner of Food Networks' Best in Smoke

Matt Lang – The Winner of Food Networks’ Best in Smoke

Posted By: Richard Wachtel
Published: September 29, 2011

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This week’s Meet the Barbecue Pros which is sponsored by Tucker Cooker, Rich had a chance to meet up with Matt Lang. Some of you might know Matt as he was the winner of Food Networks Barbecue show this past spring: Best in Smoke. Matt was the former head chef/pitmaster of Fette Sau Barbecue Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.

Don’t forget to check out all of Grilling with Rich’s coverage of Food Network’s Best In Smoke by clicking here.

What made you start to barbecue?

Matt: Unfortunately god created this thing called man and man created this thing called money. a string of events transpired in my life, circa 24 or 25 years old, when I realized that one needs a good deal of money to exist comfortably in this uncomfortable world. I then met Joe Carroll. I was a cook at pearl oyster bar in Manhattan at the time and was spending about half of my paycheck and losing half of my brain cells at Joe’s bar. Joe presented his idea to me for a barbecue restaurant (Fette Sau) With a pocket full of empty and a brain lacking smarts, I accepted his offer as head cook/pitmaster. Since I was born in Baltimore, MD, I had no experience whatsoever with barbecue or anything mildly related to the subject. Joe had a bunch of tips and advice to offer as we were experimenting with various techniques and methods. it was during these conversations that my interest in barbecue was piqued.  A couple months later the restaurant opened and it was my goal to make Fette Sau a barbecue restaurant that could stand up to the famous joints that litter the south and midwest.

PitMaster from Food Network's Best in Smoke Matt Lang

PitMaster from Food Network's Best in Smoke Matt Lang

What do you like most about Barbecue? and Why do you think that a lot of people love to barbecue?

Matt: Barbecue seems to transport its victims to a more primal time. where napkins and utensils do not exist. and ted Nugent is President. I would hope everyone likes it for the same reasons as I.

What is your favorite barbecue food to make? and why?

Matt: hmmm…Chicken? no reason. Chickens are fun.

What was it like participating in a BBQ Show on T.V? What was your greatest challenge in the show?

Matt: It was a strange, strange experience. Similar to alice spiraling down the rabbit hole with Pink Floyd’s mettle as the soundtrack. The biggest challenge was drinking enough scotch to make the whole thing bearable.

Did you feel that the show portrayed BBQ in a new and refreshing way and correctly?

Matt: Yes.

There has been some “scuttle” around the winning dish on Food Network’s BBQ Show some have expressed that smoking tofu is not true barbecue and that the final challenge should have been more Smoke and Meat rather than a veggie or Tufu what is your thoughts?

Matt: Best in Smoke was Food Network’s thing. I have no problem with tofu. I enjoy it on occasion. I also believe that its not always necessary for a living creature to lose its life in order for food to qualify as barbecue. Barbecue should not resemble a religion, rather a philosophy. I ain’t too fond of narrow minded folks.

What did you least like about participating in the show?

Matt: My tolerance for scotch and xanax dramatically increased.

What was something that happened that didn’t air on the show?

Matt: Me deep throating ken hess’ finger. I couldn’t help myself. when I see a sugar coated finger I gotta get me some.

What was it like competing against great BBQ Pitmasters such as Chris Lilly and Restaurateurs like Famous Dave and up and coming BBQ stars like Brad Orrison?

Matt: To be honest. I had never heard of a single person I was competing against when I first walked onto the set of best in smoke. I’m a bit of a shut-in. but…everybody was amazing. Famous Dave had some good advice and was as sweet as pie. Chris Lilly was simply a bad ass. I could have gone without hearing “lets get fed at the shed” 52 times daily. Brad was a swell mothertrucker though.


Barbecue should not Resemble a Religion, Rather a Philosophy. – Matt Lang


What is your next big Barbecue adventure?

Matt: I be in the process of getting together a Baltimore city style fish fry in Brooklyn. fried whiting, fried shrimp, crab cakes and the like. no barbecue at the moment.

Tell us one thing that your fans do not know about you, that you would like to share?

Matt: W. Somerset Maugham is my favorite author. I’am sure a lot of people’s minds will be blown by that lil’ tidbit of information.

We have also interviewed Brad Orrison, Famous Dave and Chris Lilly from Best in Smoke, so don’t forget to read and check out those interviews!

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