Go Away With … Steven Raichlen

By Jae-Ha Kim
August 17, 2010

For his latest book, “Planet Barbecue” (Workman Publishing, $35), master griller Steven Raichlen traveled to 60 countries to see for himself how grilling is done in places such as South Korea, Uruguay and South Africa. With his first-hand knowledge, he put together more than 300 barbecue recipes that are eclectic yet basic enough for the average home griller to follow. Raichlen also is the host of PBS’ “Primal Grill” and previously hosted “Barbecue University at the Greenbrier,” which is now available on DVD. The 57-year-old chef describes his life as spending “half the year in Miami, half the year in Martha’s Vineyard and half the year on airplanes. No wonder I’m so tired.”

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Paris. I first went there to study French in the 1970s and it’s been my home away from home for 30 years.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. When in Miami, (my wife and I) like to shoot down to St. Barts in the French West Indies or take a quick flight over to the Bahamas. When in Martha’s Vineyard, we’ll go to Boston, Rhode Island or southern Vermont. I often have business (to do) in Berkeley, Calif., so when we’re there we like to spend the weekend in Healdsburg.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris (www.plaza-athenee-paris.com), the Dylan Amsterdam (www.dylanamsterdam.com), Ellerman House (www.ellerman.co.za) in Cape Town, Ryokan Tarawara in Kyoto, Amansara (www.amanresorts.com/amansara/home.aspx) in Siem Reap, Cambodia — or pretty much any Aman (www.amanresorts.com) property.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. Etxebarri (www.asadoretxebarri.com) in Axpe, Spain — home of Victor Arguinzoniz, the most intelligent, innovative grill master in the world. Le Cordonnerie in Paris is a tiny unassuming place, but it’s the last real neighborhood bistro in Paris with a handful of tables and one chef who slices his veal escalopes to order and does all the cooking himself. Francis Mallmann 1884 (www.1884restaurante.com.ar) in Mendoza, Argentina. No one does Argentinian meat and fire better. Elckerlijc (www.peterdeclercq.be) in Maldegem, Belgium, has an autodidact chef and one of Europe’s most accomplished grill masters. O Ya (www.oyarestaurantboston.com) in Boston, which is one of the world’s three best sushi parlors — including in Japan. So you see, it’s not always about barbecue — even for me!

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. Bose headphones for the flight, iPhone, Moleskine notebook, a good novel and everything must fit in one roll-aboard suitcase. I hate checking luggage and I like to travel light.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Paris, Amsterdam, Marrakech, Istanbul and Kyoto.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. Besides the obvious immersion into guidebooks and the Internet and reaching out to colleagues and experts on a given location, I always try to read a novel or two from a writer who lived or worked in my destination.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. Uzbekistan. It’s the major way station on the Silk Road and hotbed of Central Asian grilling.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A. Best vacation: a barge trip through Burgundy. I took it after three years of nonstop work on my book “The Barbecue Bible,” and it was my best vacation because we never moved faster than three miles an hour. Worst vacation: a barge trip through the southwest of France. It was bad because we were housed in a microscopic cabin next to the engine. And we never moved faster than three miles an hour.

© 2010 JAE-HA KIM


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