June 10th, 2014
11:45 AM ET
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Editor's note: Nothing inflames passions quite like barbecue and we'll be breaking down the nuances of regional styles all summer long. Next week - CNN readers and staff weigh in on their favorite joints and pitmasters from all over the country.

(Travel + Leisure) – Like a lot of people, Jay Metzger draws a line when it comes to his barbecue loyalties - and for him, that line falls along the Mississippi River.

“While it’s nice to enjoy a little Memphis and Carolina barbecue, the real stuff comes from the center of the U.S.,” says the Los Angeles-based advertising executive, who favors Kansas City and Texas barbecue.

Plenty of Travel + Leisure readers agree, ranking KC and more than one Texas city in the top 10. But where there’s smoke, there’s fiery debate. As part of the America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 35 metro areas for such qualities as good-looking locals, great sports teams, and regionally distinct pizza and barbecue. To be fair, since the survey covered only 35 cities, some barbecue hot spots like Lexington, North Carolina, Lockhart, Texas, and St. Louis, Missouri were not even on the table for this particular vote.

But plenty of other hot-button BBQ cities were - and one dark horse (or perhaps pig) even took the top prize. Certainly, the prevailing styles and some gourmet-friendly trends vary from city to city, from the burnt ends in Kansas City, Missouri, to the mustard-sauced pork in Charleston, South Carolina, or the piles of brisket on butcher paper in Austin, Texas - so the definition of best may depend on what you’re used to.
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5@5 - What chefs stress out about
June 9th, 2014
05:00 AM ET
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5@5 is a food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Chefs have a lot on their plates, from food costs and health inspections to sourcing ethically produced ingredients and making sure to see their family every once in a while. They're an anxious bunch, but chances are that diners will never see anything beyond a perfectly arranged plate and a sweat-free forehead. Restaurants are as much in the business of theater as they are in dining.

Todd Wiss knows what it takes to keep the seams from showing to the customers. As the executive chef of Firefly in Washington, D.C., he has made a mission of serving seasonal, sustainable, local food (often harvested from just a few feet above the restaurant), often with diners' dietary restrictions in mind. But there's an awful lot of work that goes into making things at this neighborhood favorite - or any restaurant - seem cool as a cucumber, even when the heat is on.

5 things that make chefs anxious (that diners never see): Todd Wiss
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Filed under: 5@5 • Chefs • Dietary Restrictions • Gluten-free • Social Media • Think


Orange is the new green: produce from prisons
June 6th, 2014
12:00 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

The first season of the Netflix hit show Orange is the New Black featured a series of prison food posters, with recipes attached. Among the highlights: Prison Pad Thai (four ingredients: ramen noodles, peanut butter, peanuts and hot sauce) and Prison Tamales with a beef jerky filling.

For those of us who haven't binge-watched all of the second season yet, there's no word yet on what the prison food situation will be (beyond that the show’s cookbook comes out in October). I wonder if the star of the series, Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling), will start a garden. Because that’s what’s happening at a lot of prisons around the country.

Farm programs, like the ones below, teach inmates about nutrition, how to grow food and related life-skill lessons. The programs supply healthy food for prison cafeterias as well as for nearby restaurants and homeless shelters. Not only that: These gardening programs have been shown to reduce the rate of repeated incarceration. Bring on the #OITNB Cellblock Caesar Salad.
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June 4th, 2014
06:00 PM ET
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World-renowned chef, author and Emmy-winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Bahia, Brazil, in the season finale of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, June 8, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.

Residents of Bahia, Brazil, may be getting ready to play host to many of the 2014 FIFA World Cup matches, but their lively Afro-Brazilian culture is proudly on display in the streets and on the beaches year-round.

Amid the state's intoxicating samba rhythms, colorful art scene and vibrant lifestyle is an equally intoxicating cocktail of lime, sugar and cachaça - the caipirinha, which just happens to be Brazil's national drink.

"What’s magical about this cocktail is the first taste, it’s like, 'I don’t know man. It’s a little too something.' And then that second sip, it’s like, 'aw, that’s kinda good.' Then the third sip, it’s 'where are my pants?'" host Anthony Bourdain says as he guzzles one in the streets of the capital city of Salvador.

For the season finale of "Parts Unknown," muddle up this refreshing drink at home and let your cares slip away to the beat of the drums.

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June 2nd, 2014
01:30 PM ET
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America's Test Kitchen  is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full¬time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook's Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

The secret to great barbecue in your own backyard isn’t necessarily going out and buying all sorts of special equipment. You don’t require a smoker, and you don’t need the huge barbecue pits the pitmasters use in the South. All you need is a grill, some wood chips, and a disposable roasting pan filled with water to convert a charcoal kettle into a makeshift smoker.
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