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Slow-cooked Southern barbecue in Alabama; the top three chefs in the championship meet up in Los Angeles.

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- Hey, I'm Jax and welcome to The Grill Iron. We're heading to the best college football tailgates across the country and drafting amazing local chefs to step into our Tastemade Kitchen at The Hyundai Fieldhouse, and redefine the art of tailgating. While the teams fight it out on the gridiron, our chef's turn up the heat on the Grill Iron. It is known as America's cradle of civil rights. This is where a once in a generation hero proves that non-violence and an unwavering faith can in fact change the world. Birmingham, Alabama's journey is a remarkable one. Where once lay abandoned buildings and shattered windows, now blossom stunning urban farms. But for over 120 years, one thing remains. On a wintry Thanksgiving weekend, the entire state converges, on it's most steadfast tradition. It's one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports two towns united, and divided. They're bonded by Alabama pride, but for this one fall day, it's the Iron Bowl, and anything can happen. Giving our grill a bit of the southern charm today are two fine dining chefs who have traded in the white linens for something that's so much more their spirit and their state. - Hello, I'm Brandon Cain. - And, I'm John Hall. - And, we're the chefs at SAW's Soul Kitchen in Birmingham Alabama. Soul food could really mean the soul of the chef and that what us, with our fine dining background are really kinda about anyway. The heart and soul of the kitchen, of the restaurant, of the chef that prepared the food to even the soul of the people sitting and eating. You're sharing your soul with each other as you're eating a dish that you created. - We associate soul food with hospitality, we associate it with warm people, and family and a lot of slow cooking, a lot of time and love and care and effort that goes into making the meal. - For us it really is about the table and the community and the fellowship that that creates, a continuation of love, that you had to love the products to get them to grow and then when you get them out of the ground, you have to respect and love the hard work it took to make that, so you really want to take every bit of effort you can and not waste a thing. - For us that is the South, that has always been the South. There's a farm right down the street, my family owns the farm, you know, my grandparents, they were raised on farms. So farm to table is not a new phenomenon or a new movement, it's been a way of life. Once we both got in the kitchen at the same time, we just fed off each other's energy. You saw the same passion in yourself in someone else and the same excitement and the same drive. - When you work so close to somebody and so many long hours, in the heat of the battle if you will, kind of shows what kind of character you are in general. End of the day, we're not saving lives, we're cooking food and I think that's the mentality that we both have, let's make it fun, you know. There's days I look around, it's like guys, can you believe we get paid to this? I mean it's a dream come true. Tailgating brings everybody together. Auburn, Alabama, black, white, yellow, green, it doesn't matter. We all love the party and we all love to have a good time. It's a way of life, without a doubt. - [Jax} Alabama is know for it's vast, sprawling farm land, our travels end us on endless acres bearing one of the South's most prized fruits. Here at the Pecan Point Farm, it turns out that the perfect pecan starts somewhere wholly unexpected. - We have a story to tell about pecans, it generally starts right here with bees. We've got about 14 hives in the orchard, and their primary job is to pollinate the clover. That clover captures the nitrogen that's in the air, stores it in the plant tissue and releases it the following season as a source of nitrogen for our pecan trees. Keeping bees has not always been as difficult as it is today. Bees are being stressed and killed by additional chemical spraying and a number of things that stress bees out is what we call colony collapse. - As chefs we talk about love a lot, you'd rather go through the painstaking steps to make a great product, it's not all about the yield or the money, it's about the quality and for us as chefs that hits home, big time. - I love that George chooses to do everything the hard way here, so that we can taste the very best. I've never seen a cow that you can just walk right up to. - These cows are out here to help us graze this grass down and allow the clovers to grow. In many orchards, most orchards, they either chemically mow or mechanically mow. to control this competition, here we use grazing. The chickens actually follow these cows, scratch out the cow piles and pick through the fly larvae to help illuminate some of our fly problems. - I just can't believe how many processes there are and how many layers of difficulties there are for something that I thought was so simple. - We do this because we're not interested in living on a farm that depends on commodity production. This is the best I know I can sell, this is the best I have to offer. - That's music to my ears, that's what I wish we could hear from every purveyor that we deal with. - We met the bees, we met all these friendly cows and now we get to see what it all adds up to. - Pecan Point Farm, we have seven varieties. This is an Elliot, this is our favorite tree in the orchard, we think it has the best quality nut, the best flavored nut, highest oil content and the best flavor. My grandson here Dominic Rogers is going to crack a few nuts for us and show us how we get it done. - Doesn't get any fresher than that. - Mmm. That is the cleanest, most flavorful pecan I've ever had. - So much richer is flavor, almost in my opinion, a lot more smoother in the texture and that oil really just comes through in there a lot more powerful. - I've got a sample of the best of what the farm has to offer. - It's the milk from their cows, the honey from their bees, the pecan from their trees, and the granola from their kitchen. Truly a taste of place. Mmm, that can not be duplicated without all of the labor and love that went into it. - To be able to eat something like on the land where it was all produced, this is a dream come true, you can't get any better than this. - [Jax] Coming up chefs Brandon and John are taking the Alabama flavors to the next level with a smoked pork croquette that will have your mouth watering. Oh yes, today is the Grill Iron Bowl. It is the match up of the year on the field and also if I do say so the match up of the year on the plate 'cause we have these two guys bringing the southern barbecue all the way from Birmingham. - [Brandon and John] One, two, - Three - Oh my God, it's like a rainbow of deliciousness. Juicy, meaty, gamey, sweet on the outside, it's soulful. - This is what barbecue in the South is all about. - Apparently, this baby is getting one more layer of love. - Oh yes, next we're going to throw them on this hot grill. We're going to use this nice pecan wood that we got from the farm and it's gonna give it a nice umami flavor on this pork butt, it's gonna be really awesome. - Oh, that fresh wood smells so good and you can see the bubbling and crisping and dripping. Look every piece that I pull is perfection. From the bark to the juiciness, to the rainbow of color. I'm in awe of meat. - So what we're gonna do is make pork croquettes, so it's like a little potato meat filled dumpling. Which is all about that soul. - Yeah, that is the South. - We just take potatoes and we cram them in here and this is the really, really fun part. -Look at that, he's taken potatoes and made them light and fluffy and pillowy. - So the next thing we're gonna do is season all these flavors. - This is were you infuse the love and the soul and you get your hands dirty. So just ball them up? - Yeah, you just grab them, roll them around in your hand and you want it to be imperfect because that way you know it was made at home. - Like Chef said it's perfect 'cause it's not and as you turn it around every single bite is going to be wonderfully different. We have our flavor balls of pork and potato and I can see from what's in front of us that there's another step in this journey? - Oh yeah, we have a little bit of flour that seasoned with salt and pepper, an egg wash and then breadcrumbs. - And that means they are destined for the deep fryer. - Oh yeah. Now when we're going to bread these, you want to lightly dredge them 'cause we spent so much time to get that nice smoky umami flavor, so we don't want to take too much away from it. - You just don't want the deep fryer to overpower your carefully crafted flavor. Inside of that is a lot of love. - That's gonna be super tasty. - Yes. - Woo, look at that I love that sizzle. When he flips them over, you see that bubbling golden crust. It doesn't take very long. They're like little savory donut holes. - All right, you see that nice golden one, right here that's what you want to see that is exactly what we're looking for. - How good does that look? - We're gonna make brussels sprouts like if your mom would have made, you would have eaten them your whole life. So what we got here is brussels sprout hearts, we like to just put them on the grill, let the flames kiss them just a touch, bring out that natural good nutty flavor. Remember those pecans, we threw them on the smoker, so they'd get nice and crispy, bring out that real serious nutty aroma and flavor to it. - I thought they were good coming straight off the tree, but putting them in the smoker just opened up the flavor. - [Brandon] We're gonna mix them in with the raw lettuce and then some kale and take our vinegarette and just get it all tossed in there really, really well. - [Jax] Oh my gosh. - We're gonna call John over here and we're gonna finish this thing up. - There you go, oh my God, still bubbling. - [John] And we're gonna take that smoked mayonnaise that we had earlier, we're gonna come in and we're just gonna put a dollop right on top. - [Brandon] And this right here is our Iron Bowl dish. - Mmm, it's all that sauce, signature smokiness into every single ingredient, umph. - This is the Grill Iron. Who wants the best of Alabama. - It's the taste of the South, it's the taste of Alabama, it's soul. - [Crowd] Roll Tide Roll. - They say it's the biggest game of the year, this is a dish worthy of that. - [Crowd} Roll Tide Roll. - Woo hoo, Grill Iron. Up next, we're heading to the Tastemade Studios in LA where some of our favorite chefs from the Grill Iron are reuniting to throw our biggest tailgate yet. We went on an unbelievably enlightening journey from one college football town to another. We met the mightiest chefs, who invited us to trace their favorite ingredients to the source, introducing us to the farmers, fisherman and vintners that are restoring purity to the American food landscape. After meeting the trailblazers of America's slow food movement, your three favorite chefs return for one more round of smoky goodness. Today we are throwing the biggest tailgate yet. We're at Tastemade Studios and this is a very special episode of the Grill Iron. He's bringing his infamous arsenal of Ohio brews and spirits, to dazzle us with what he does best, glistening bacon. Columbus, Ohio's beast with the feast from Kraft House 5, Marcus Meacham. - I feel like my style of cooking is true and honest to what I like myself, so I'm putting myself on a plate. I do that every day at Kraft House and I'm going to do it on game day. - He lit up our Tastemade kithen with the Pacific Northwest's breathtaking bounty. From the historic Nick's Italian Cafe in McMinnville, Oregon, Chef Eric Ferguson - So here we are, we're in LA, Nick's Italian Cafe and we brought some of the love from the Northwest. I'm bringing all these amazing ingredients, but I actually brought the important thing, the best secret weapon that I could have, I brought my wife. When we're at a farmer's market, we're picking things out together, we're tasting them together, we're smelling them, we're looking at them, we're talking, throwing ideas out to each other. I brought the boss. - Our very own culinary Picasso showed us that his steel city is ripe with unparalleled cultural depth. Representing Penn State via Pittsburg, Butcher and the Rye's Rick DeShantz - I wanted to bring California into my pierogi dish. Going to a farmer's market in the middle of December and just to see the beautiful produce that comes from California firsthand is intense. It made you want to cook, it made you want to get out there and put everything on the line. In Columbus, I did lobster like shrimp, here in LA, I'm doing these King Kong scallops. We're gonna sear them up in butter, nice salt and pepper, nice spice blend afterward, it's going to be amazing. - Those are some mama jama scallops. - Gonna give them a nice bath right here, a little butter bath for them. - Oh, butter bath, it smells unreal, it's just nutty and wonderful. Can I just say, your grill smells amazing. - We bought some Pinot Noir barrels staves. - Oh, that's what we're burning? - That's what we're cooking on today. Smells like a wine reduction. We brought the one ingredient that you're actually not suppose to cook. We brought Pacific Northwest geoduck clams. - Oh man, this is a daring move right here, 'cause I feel that most people don't even know what geoduck is. - Yeah this is one of the greatest clams, right? It's got this great clam texture, it's got this great salty, briny goodness, end game, linguine and clams, Pacific Northwest style. - You're the pasta guy. - Here we go. - This is what's inside this man's brain and it's gonna be delicious, but I need you to decode it for me. - Today we're actually making lobster and mascarpone pierogi. - These are our little pockets of heaven made with tender love and care. The butter is starting to get brown, the flavor's opening up, oh. - Add the little bit of crunch, a little bit of texture, fluffy in the middle, crunchy on the outside, they're perfect. - I love me a pierogi, I especially love me a Rick DeShantz pierogi. What is bubbling in these in these insanely smelling pans? - This is Benton's bacon It's gonna get a little love now. - [Jax] A little North High love. - [Marcus] A little North High love, you remember Gavin. - That dark, caramelly beer. - Yeah, the beer just for braising bacon. - Whewoh my God., I did it. - Soda bubbles, sabered to perfection, going into the pan. We have our geoduck, sliced crazy thin, so we get that real nice texture, we brought some fresh hand-cut taglierini pasta from Nick's Italian Cafe. - Thank you. - We have lobster roulade, we're just gonna kiss them on the grill lightly just to kinda get that char flavor and we actually have lobster butter. - Lobster butter, man, that's so good. It is going to be art on a plate. - The base, I have this nice sweet potato cake. - We've got our geoduck clams, put it back in its shell just for fun. - [Jax] That is amazing plating. - Step one, gonna start with our uni butter. - And this is the actual bacon itself. We're going to shred it this time. - Beautiful freesia, this beautiful mizuna. - Next our golden brown pierogis. - [Jax] Gorgeous. - Crispy brussels sprouts that I cooked in Benton's bacon fat, remember that. - This is the crispy fried belly, so it's like the bacon of the sea. - So this is also the clam. - This is clam. So it's clam, clam, clam. - Next lobster roulade, a little bit of golden trout, California - Yup, caviar at a tailgate. - [Marcus] I got these King Kong scallops. - [Eric] Chop them up and sprinkle them on top like that traditional breadcrumb on the linguini and clams. - Wow. - [Rick] Put these beautiful radishes on. - [Marcus] This is that Ohio glaze, some country ham candy. - It smells like the ocean. I mean you gave lobster the Rick DeShantz royal treatment. It's literally a killer dish. Up next, we're joined by a special guest as the audience votes for their favorite dish and crowns one amazing chef the Grill Iron champion. To help us with the enviable task of tasting all this amazing food, We enlisted the one who taught us that tailgate culture is really all about generosity and selflessness, our food angel, Tony Tailgate. - All right, so you guys ready for some Ohio love? - [Both] Yes. - This is a little taste of heaven from the Northwest. - Lobster on lobster at a tailgate, yes. Oh my God. This man knows how to make a wonder out of bacon. - And sure you're not from the South? That is freaking awesome, dude. - That's the first bite of geoduck I've ever had and I want to eat more of that, that's real good. You know what I love about Chef Rick's food, every single bite is something different, it's a surprise. - I can feel the heart and soul of what you've done in this right here, thank you so much. - Welcome everybody and thank you Hyundai, 'cause without Hyundai this would not be possible. It's a friendly competition but it is a competition, so make sure you hit every station. You taste every last delicious morsel of our journey and then you vote on who your favorite is, 'cause we're crowning our very first Grill Iron champion today. - Eventually one of them will walk away with that trophy and you know what, we need three of them. - [Jax] These gifted chefs came from far and wide to spoil us, but on this day, the fans have spoken, and one combination of soaring flavors won the hearts and palates of our hungry tailgaters. With the upmost pleasure, we give you your very first Grill Iron champion from the Buckeye State Mr. Marcus Meacham. - Here we go coming back to C-bus, O H. - [Crowd] We love you. - The whole thing started with bacon and it's kind of ending with bacon, again. The opportunity to be here, I'm grateful. - You're gonna make me cry. Our Grill Iron journey comes to a blissful end a most heartfelt thanks to all the artisans that so generously let us into their worlds. You taught us a delicious lesson, that food grown with love and integrity can have a singular spectacular aura.

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